And speaking of songs of intervention…

There’s is something happening in Portugal right now and I wanted to make a note of when I realized this by making a post.

Things are bad everywhere. Most of us know that. Portugal, England, USA, it doesn’t matter. For the majority of people things aren’t looking good. The crisis you’ll tell me. It’s the financial crisis. Indeed it is.

North Africa has been boiling with revolutions, and as May approaches, workers all over Europe prepare for the usual demonstrations. Some strikes have been happening here and there. Everyone is trying to find a way out. Except our Governments who are part of that group of people who don’t really have any reason to do anything besides the necessary to keep the rest of us calm and down, like an overly excited dog.

I am happy to realize people in Portugal are starting to get out of the torpor they’ve been in since, well since we last got rid of a dictatorship almost 40 years ago!

I am also happy to realize it is not the usual suspects who initiated the discussion. No journalist-turned-critic-turned-writer, no highly respected academics, no medical doctors-turned-writers. No. This time round (much like before if we think about it), it was a song that is getting everyone off their (un)comfortable seats.

It’s my generation! And it was about time!! How can so many be so comfortable in such a crumbling situation for so long baffles me!

This song’s lyrics made me cry. It was not because I can identify with it. After all, I have no need for my car – which is already paid for in any case – and have no wish to buy a house right now. I am also not living in Portugal and am not at the mercy of the same work rules everyone else is.

No, it made me cry because for the first time someone else verbalized the issues, outlined the problem, the same way I have been reasoning for a long time now. Having the same ideas voiced in such way, through a song, shared with everyone else in the country, in such a way that provokes a movement to be formed and a demonstration to be planned, makes it suddenly real.

While those were just reasonings of my own, voiced only to those close enough for me to discuss such issues with them – J., my sisters and my dad – it was still possible for me to be getting it all wrong. There was still hope for a much better picture than the one I was seeing. But now all that hope for that is gone and all the others have finally woken up to this bleak reality.

Why it took them so long I do not know. They are the ones living those situations. Maybe they were still hoping for things to change on their own without us having to do anything about it. After all we are the calm, free generation who grew up with all the freedom, all the democracy, all the opportunities and our brave parents to support us.

We are still leaning on them today, some of us already in their 30’s, others, like myself, not far behind…In a way thank God we have our parents! But I suspect that is why it is taking us so long to do something.

So it had to be a song, the words spoken making it all real and highlighting it as “wrong”, to make everyone uneasy.

«Que Parva Que Eu Sou»

Sou da geração sem-remuneração
E nem me incomoda esta condição
Que parva que eu sou

Porque isto está mau e vai continuar
Já é uma sorte eu poder estagiar
Que parva que eu sou

E fico a pensar
Que mundo tão parvo
Onde para ser escravo
É preciso estudar

Sou da geração casinha-dos-pais
Se já tenho tudo, p’ra quê querer mais?
Que parva que eu sou

Filhos, marido, estou sempre a adiar
E ainda me falta o carro pagar
Que parva que eu sou

E fico a pensar
Que mundo tão parvo
Onde para ser escravo
É preciso estudar

Sou da geração vou-queixar-me-pra-quê?
Há alguém bem pior do que eu na TV
Que parva que eu sou

Sou da geração eu-já-não-posso-mais
Que-esta-situação-dura-há-tempo-de-mais!
E parva eu não sou

E fico a pensar
Que mundo tão parvo
Onde para ser escravo
É preciso estudar

For those of you who can’t speak Portuguese it will probably mean nothing. But for the Portuguese generation “à rasca”, the struggling graduate generation, with so much more education than our parents and grandparents, it describes to painful perfection the way most are living. It pierced me the part that goes “What a stupid world where you have to study to be a slave.”

The song has only been performed by the band Deolinda, and hasn’t been studio edited. In some of the videos of the couple of performances you’ll find on youtube, you can hear the surprise in the audience when they hear for the first time. It’s like a wake up call.

This call has led to a group of people decide to organize a demonstration in both Porto and Lisboa for the graduate generation and everyone else who wants to show how appalled they are with the working conditions young people are not-so-young people are facing. You can find more information on facebook. I wish I was there on the 12th!!

I hope the energy people are showing, the motivation doesn’t die out before it renders itself fruitful.

To also mark this moment, a satirical group who sings only intervention songs has just won the Portuguese Song Festival which entitles them to represent Portugal in the Eurovision Festival.

In previous years, no one would care to vote but now everyone seems to be awake, saying “we’re here, we’re awake, we’ll fight too!, but in a civilized manner of course!”. No young Portuguese graduate wants to be accused of being 1) too young and, therefore, not worthy of having an opinion worth listening; and 2) uncivilized. After all, this is the graduate generation. Going to University for 5 years must entitle us to more than slavery! So you’ll find all ready to demonstrate but always peacefully (save the odd angry communist or anarchist…).

And here I must say it may not be because everyone’s a graduate. It’s just the Portuguese way.

It is this same Portuguese way that may destroy the opportunity. This is where I see things can go wrong. Many still don’t see any reason why to try and change things. And the worst things it’s not because they feel they are well enough! It’s more because they see no hope for anything to change!

So, as a History enthusiast, and as a Portuguese of this same generation, I will keep an eye out for how things develop. But I am not sure my people will come through…I hope they do!

Good luck to us all!

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About Rita BA

I read, I write, I think, I dream, I write a bit more...
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