Artur Carlos Maurício Pestana dos Santos, more known as Pepetela, was born on October 29, 1941 in Angola, in the coastal region of Benguela. His family has roots among the settlers of this African country, but his country was already Angolan at birth.
Pepetela did his first studies, the Primary and part of the Secondary, in his native land, where he stayed until 1956. Afterwards, he left for Lubango, where he was only able to complete his studies at the Liceu Diogo Cão, followed by Lisbon, with the aim of studying at the Instituto Superior Técnico.
In the Portuguese capital he also integrated the Casa dos Estudantes do Império, thus beginning his political and literary career. Among other activities, he becomes one of the breeders of the Centro de Estudos Angolanos, which he integrates as representative of the MPLA.
In 1960, the future writer entered the Faculty of Engineering, but then opted for Letters, after a year of deciding on the political career, entering, in 1963, the MPLA – Movimento Popular para a Libertação de Angola (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola). This choice would subvert completely his future, because the experiences gained in the direct testimony of Angolan history would inspire his work and his own existential trajectory.
For some time Pepetela is forced to seek shelter in France and Algeria. But after the liberation of Angola, the romanticist returns, in 1975, to his country, assuming the position of Vice-Minister of Education, under the leadership of President Agostinho Neto.
He graduated in Sociology at the University of Algiers, which allows him, after deserting the political path, to opt for teaching at the Faculty of Architecture of Luanda. From then on, he began to minister classrooms and, at the same time, to develop his literary career, which he only gained momentum after Independence.
A good part of his work was only launched after his return from exilium. Among his most important books are Muana puó (1978), As aventuras de Ngunga (1979), Mayombe (1980), A geração da utopia (1992), Parábola do cágado velho (1996), A gloriosa família (1997). Their content revolves especially around the history of their country, both the most distant and the most recent social and political trajetória.
Pepetela reached the height of her literary career in 1997, when she won the Camões Prize, one of the most renowned and desired by the writers who profess the Portuguese language, for the entirety of her production. Before that, however, he already received the National Prize of Literature of Angola for the work Mayombe. This recognition consecrates it as a significant name of contemporary Portuguese language literature.
The African author remains until today in Lisbon. In their curriculum they are also important leaders in the cultural sphere, mainly in the Union of Angolan Writers and in the Cultural and Recreational Association Chá de Caxinde. To learn more about him, read more at Baantjer – Books For You.