My mother has always been my greatest idol for the testimony of life that impressed me from an early age. This superhero had the ability – together with my father – to give my six siblings and myself a rigid education that stretched from the tasks we had to do at home to our own studies. Unfortunately, my brothers decided to end their academic careers early; as a result of that decision, my mother forced them to go to work and make a monetary contribution at home. “They had to go to work, to look at my face, they would not stay!” – remembers, between laughs, the matriarch in our afternoons of warm, conforting and inspirational conversation. When I hear these testimonies from my mother, I hope that the children I am going to adopt will have the opportunity to listen to these ancestral teachings, taught by an education of a nun’s school in Angola when she was nine years old: “There we learned everything except to be whores!” – mark it repeatedly in her motivational speech (the swearing in my mother’s mouth points to her African eloquence!). In the hands of this lady “mother of all” – as my Philosophy teacher Joana Rigato called her in an article she wrote – my academic career was taken with a firm finger!
THE FATAL DIVISION
When I entered the first cycle I studied at the White School of Monte da Caparica. (My life is made up of these contradictions between my black petroleum tone and the places where I go, my ghetto’s quarter is named the White Quarter of Monte da Caparica.) Is not it ironic? At least: curious!) From my first day of classes I remember the panic I felt when my father left me at school and left; my classroom was on the first floor and I remember being afraid that the stairs would take me somewhere else: any spooky version of the Hotel Transylvania (a Disney television series). With all the adrenaline rushing through my veins, I climbed the stairs and stepped into the classroom. In the early days of learning I was a banal and distracted student: I did the tasks that were required of me but without great effort or particular dedication. This was so until something happened. As the classes were going on, a transformation occurred in the disposition of the class: the teacher separated the class between blacks and whites. Yes; that’s what you heard; as such a situation occurs in the XXI century I do not know! As if that were not enough, she exercised violence against black students. I remember a colleague of mine who during one of the afternoons the teacher called her to the board to solve basic arithmetic calculations. Her nerves frozzed her wisdom; her legs looked like two bamboo reeds swaying in the wind. The answer did not leave the hysterical cries of my teacher; in this, in a single movement, the teacher preaches a crack with so much kinetic energy that the student hits with the head on the board and urine in the pants. The crowd was shocked: all that grew inside me was a revolt! Something had to change and what changed was my attitude. Faced with my inability to protest, I decided that at that moment I would study to be the best student in the class. I never let them compartmentalize me in pre-defined labels and ideas. The truth is that after a few months of serious work, I became the best student in the class and the ethnic groups were dissolved.
AN OPORTUNITY FROM HEAVEN
I continue my studies at the Basic School 2/3 of Monte de Caparica. Between rebellion and good grades I continued until the 9th grade. And here something magical happened that changed my life forever; at the end of this year of transition to the high school I had the board of grades full of fives minus the English I had a four. I was all happy with the possibility of studying and continuing my studies to become a doctor; however, on a very sad night my mother said that she had no chance for me to pursue my studies – we both cried and I was devastated. We all have a guide star, do not we? Mine would turn out the next morning when my priest Abel Bandeira brought me news: “You are going to study at São João de Brito College!” I must admit that my first reaction was to go to study among spoiled and bored boys ! What happened next? You’ll have to visit me tomorrow to find out what the story is about. Do not forget – It’s all in you!