b. 1924, Kimbundu, Angola
novelist and short story writer
Like most other Angolan writers of his generation, Xuanhenga Xitu's career as a writer is interwoven with his involvement in his country's struggle for independence against Portuguese colonialism (see colonialism, neocolonialism, and postcolonialism). Born in a Kimbundu rural family, Xitu was one of the founders of the MPLA, the leading nationalist movement in Angola, and for his political activities he was arrested by the Portuguese colonial authorities and imprisoned in the infamous Tarrafal camp for political prisoners in Cape Verde from 1959 to 1970. It was while in prison that Xitu started writing fiction, but his works were not published until after Angola's independence in 1975. Xitu has served the Angolan postcolonial government in various capacities, as a minister and ambassador. Within the tradition of Angolan fiction, Xitu's work stands out for its use of farce, parody, and mimicry to subvert colonial culture and its conventions. This is evident in two works, "Mestre" Tamoda e Outros Contos ("Master" Tamoda and Other Stories) (1977) and Os Discursos do "Mestre" Tamoda (The Discourse of "Master" Tamoda) (1984), both published in English translation as The World of "Mestre" Tamoda (1988). Xitu is the master of satire and his ironic sense of life in the postcolonial landscape is reflected in his later works such as O Ministro (The Minister) (1990).