Camões: Made in Goa

translated by Landeg White
Under The Peepal Tree 2017

Under The Peepal Tree website

Luís de Camões (1524-1580) was the first great European artist to cross into the Southern Hemisphere, and his poetry bears the mark of nearly two decades spent in India, north and east Africa, the Persian Gulf and Macau. His The Lusíads is world famous, but his large and equally great body of lyric poetry is almost unknown outside Portugal. From an elegy set in Morocco, to a hymn written at Cape Guardafui on the northern tip of Somalia, to the first modern European love poems addressed to a non-European woman, these lyrics reflect Camões’s encounter with radically unfamiliar places and peoples. The bulk of those years – from 1554 to 1568 – were spent in Goa where at least half of his poetry, including The Lusíads, seems to have been composed. He arrived not as a Viceroy, Governor or Admiral, not an authority figure of any kind, but as a convict soldier, sentenced for an assault in Lisbon to military service overseas. He was jailed on three occasions (see the cover picture) and when he left he was almost certainly fleeing the Inquisition. This book collects, with degrees of certainty from the absolute to the tentative, the lyric poems Camões wrote in Goa. They are translated from Portuguese, but they are very far from representing Portuguese colonial culture, which he at times wrote of with great scorn. Above all, they should be enjoyed as poetry, transcending place and time but of added interest given the place and time they were written.

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A Remembrance to Celebrate the life of Landeg White

A remembrance to celebrate his life and work, to be held at SOAS, London, on the 8th October.

Professor William Gervase Clarence-Smith will be chairing and Professors Jack Mapanje, Hugh Macmillan, Jeanne Penvenne and Jankees Vandonge will also be speaking.

8 October 2018 | Time: 5:15 -7:00 PM | Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4429

This event is open to the public, please register here

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Meditation in Memory of Landeg White

By Jeanne Marie Penvenne for the LASO (Lusophone Africa Studies Organization) Newsletter

Landeg White produced a strikingly diverse and impressive body of work over a lifetime that took him to Trinidad, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Britain, Goa and Portugal. His experiences in all these places cumulatively shaped his capacity to see, listen, understand and interpret. Where does one begin with this complex man and his diverse and impressive legacy? His personal site, opens with a sketch that captures him beautifully. Martin White, Landeg and Alice Costley White’s older son, built the site and maintains it to the present. It includes Landeg’s many books and essays, tributes to his passing, and news of recent and future book launches.

There you will find Hugh Macmillan’s insightful, scholarly reflection on Landeg and his life’s work first published in the Guardian. A greatly enhanced version, to be published in Social Dynamics, deftly captures autobiographical cameos, hidden in plain sight, throughout Landeg’s volumes of poetry. It ends with the closing lines of Landeg’s poem Self-Praises (for my African age-mates) from Living in the Delta: New and collected poems (Parthian, 2015). They should feature in every consideration of Landeg’s legacy:

As a scholar, I set the paradigm: as a poet I found my niche,
Let these praises float from my window, setting fires where
they will.

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Remembering Landeg White, 1940-2017

by Hugh Macmillan for the The Society of Malawi Journal, 71, 1, 2018, pp.46-53

Landeg Ernest White, who died after a short illness at his home at Mafra, near Sintra, Portugal, on 3 December 2017, spent less than three years in Malawi between his arrival in August 1969 to teach at the new university and his deportation from the country in May 1972. It is safe to say, however, that this period was decisive for him, both personally and intellectually, and that he had an infinitely greater impact on the country than most short-term expatriates.

Landeg White was born at Taff’s Well, near Cardiff, Wales, on 20 June 1940, the day of the fall of France. He was the son of the Reverend Reginald White (1914-2003), known professionally as R.E.O. White, a Baptist minister who eventually became principal of the Scottish Baptist College. His father was a prolific author who is well known in the USA for his popular religious texts. Landeg’s mother, Gwyneth Landeg (1914-2016), was a Welsh-speaker from a coal-mining and trade union background whose father had won a gold medal for singing at the Eisteddfod. She had worked in a Dr Barnardo’s Home in London, helping to receive Jewish child refugees before the outbreak of the Second World War. Landeg’s unusual first name was his mother’s maiden name and his younger sister’s name, Glenda, was an anagram of it. The family moved around with his father’s work and Landeg attended schools on the Wirral in Cheshire, Rutherglen Academy in Scotland, and the Birkenhead Institute. He went on to do two degrees in English Literature at Liverpool University – writing a book-length MA dissertation on the hymns of Isaac Watts. He went on to take a post as a lecturer in English literature at the Trinidad campus of the University of the West Indies in 1964.

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by Landeg White
Cinnamon Press 2017

January, 1890 — Britain threatens Portugal with an Ultimatum: Abandon south-east Africa or face a naval bombardment of Lisbon.

Three centuries earlier, the poet, Luís Vaz de Camões, described the region at issue —

Behold the lake which is the Nile’s source.
And the green Zambezi, too, begins its course.

Further upstream, the river becomes serpentine, twisting itself into a vast swamp, known to Europeans as Elephant Marsh, choked with papyrus, monstrous baobabs, and marabou storks like coffins. Every mud bank has a gang of crocodiles, the air thick with mosquitoes and the nearest horizon a tousled fringe of swamp palms…

Could the European Powers go to War over such a Wilderness?

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