Tony Thecka transforms disenchantment and frustration into poetry. He exorcises evilness through words and poetic rhymes. That is the literary exercise Tony Thecka performs, one of the main Guinean literary voices. Born in Bissau on December 21, 1951,he was named António Soares Lopes Júnior, he helped found the National Union of Artists and Writers of Guiné-Bissau and his work is known in Portugal, France, Brazil and Germany. He wrote “Noites de Insónia em Terra Adormecida” (1996), “Guiné: Sabura Que Dói” (2009) and “Desesperança no Chão de Medo e Dor” (2015), Tony described successive political and military crises that took place as the scenario for his narratives in Guinea Bissau. But he never forgets to speak about love in the midst of pain.
Tony is also a journalist and he was the writer and later on he was the director of “Rádio Nacional” (RDN) the Head Writer and the director of the newspaper “Nô Pintcha”. In addition, he created the cultural and literary supplement Bantabá.. He worked for BBC, Voice of America, and Voice of Germany, Tanjug as a correspondent and analyst, and in Portugal he worked with the “Público”, the historical new agency ANOP, RTP-África, and TSF. His skill as a journalist can be confirmed in his non-fiction book, “Os Media na Guiné-Bissau” (2015). This investigation starts at the beginning of the XIX century, and ends in 2013; he describes the entire history of social communication in the ancient Portuguese provincial time period in Guinea and then later on in 1973, in the post-independence period.
In a conversation with ATLANTICO during the “Bienal Internacional do Livro do Ceará” (International Biennial Book Fair of Ceará), Tony Tcheka spoke about his next book, a set of “stories” related to April 25th 1974, he had experienced in the Guinean capital city and that involved “people, families, and institutions”. The title of this book could be “Cravos em Lisboa Mudam Destinos em Bissau “These are fictitious stories that happened to people from my country after the so-called ‘Revolução dos Cravos’ in Portugal, which was the basis of the independence of the Portuguese-speaking African countries”, he adds. “Now I am making a complete inversion, by writing prose as fiction related to real and actually experienced historical stories”. Without interviewing anyone, Tony says he relied on the reality he himself lived at the time. And he decided to be deeply involved in the project because, according to him, there was nothing in Guinea-Bissau written on that subject.
Tony Tcheka speaks about the affection he feels for Brazil. “I feel right at home when I speak about Brazilian literature”, he tells. “My literary taste is very broad. Not to mention anything specific, many times I have sought Brazilian literature for my inspiration. For a long time now, since I was a teenager, I devoured a great number of Brazilian novelists and poets. I have studied all literary periods and currents”, he reveals. “I can say that my initiation into reading Brazilian authors began with Josué de Castro. His work helped me to open my horizons and pay more attention to the world and its realities”.
Times of hopelessness
In one of Tony’s latest books, “Desesperança no chão de medo e dor”, He combines 50 separate poems into five chapters, one of those is written completely in Creole, to poetically witness what happened after the Military Coup in 2012. He questioned the hopelessness; he said the world is troubled due to social policies, an uncertainty increasing daily, this situation has attributed to the leadership crisis in the western world. “It is not just related to being or not being charismatic. Leaders have demonstrated an absence of viable projects, proven by the lack of synergy to supply the yearnings of the people and, also by the increasing distance from achieving peace”, he states. “This leadership crisis brings about a great deal of indignation and anger. We can see what is taking place in Brazil, through discomfort, claims, and struggles and also in the United States, due to the election of the new president. We also see the issues in Syria, North Korea. Nobody knows what is going to happen tomorrow”.
The Ceará Biennial
The XII International Biennial Book Fair of Ceará, in the Northeast of Brazil, took place from April 14th to the 23rd 2017 and it featured Tony Tcheka, from Guinea, and other consecrated names from the African continent. Among them, the Portuguese-born Angolan Valter Hugo Mãe, the Mozambican Paulina Chiziane, the Angolan Ondjaki, the Guinean Manuel Casqueiro and the Mozambican Carlos Subuhana. At the event, writers participated in conversations and debates on various topics such as orality, African culture and the feminine universe.