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Noémia de Sousa’s Work as a Translator: Reflections on Discurso sobre o Colonialismo

Satty Flaherty-Echeverria


Abstract. The writer Noémia de Sousa (1926–2003) is considered the “mother of Mozambican poetry.” Her unusual career as a poet (she was exiled from Mozambique in 1951) has rendered some of the most lauded poetry within and outside of Mozambique. Her poetry, written between 1948 and 1951, remains at the center of most criticism on her literary work (Saúte 126). Although de Sousa could not stay in Mozambique, her lengthy career as a writer did not stop there. She was an avid journalist for O Brado Africano in Mozambique and later for news agencies in Portugal and France such as LUSA. In addition to journalistic endeavors, she worked as a translator in Lisbon and helped to publish the Portuguese version of Aimé Césaire’s Discours sur le Colonialisme (1978) prefaced by Mario Pinto de Andrade, first published in Présence Africaine, a magazine also edited by Mario Pinto de Andrade. The work of translation functioned for de Sousa as a means of survival, nonetheless, an outlet for her own creative expression. In this article, I examine the ways in which de Sousa’s poetic elements are evident through her translation of Aimé Césaire’s Discours sur le Colonialisme. I begin with a brief description of her correspondence with Mario Pinto de Andrade that provides insight into her work as a translator. Then I highlight elements of her poetry as echoed in Césaire’s text. Finally, I conclude with an analysis of her translated text to demonstrate her poetic influence as it is manifested within the translation of Discours sur le Colonialisme.


Translation, Intertextuality, Exile, Noémia de Sousa, Aimé Césaire

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