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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

In 1982, musician Waldemar Bastos defected from his native Angola during a visit to Portugal. A brutal civil war was under way in his homeland in southwestern Africa, a war that would last for decades until 2002. And Bastos says he felt smothered beneath the weight of the Marxist regime. Waldemar Bastos has lived away from Angola ever since. With his country now at peace, he's able to sing about a hopeful future.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. WALDEMAR BASTOS: (Singing in Portuguese)

BLOCK: Bastos sings, `How long till we have peace? Let's now join hands, leave behind what made us suffer. Let's lift up our beautiful Angola.' Of course, it's so much more beautiful in Portuguese.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. WALDEMAR BASTOS: (Singing in Portuguese)

BLOCK: Waldemar Bastos came by our studios with his manager, Alpay Taskin, to interpret. We talked about a concert he gave in the Angolan capital in 2003. It was his first visit back since the end of the war.

Mr. BASTOS: (Through Alpay Taskin) Well, it was a very important moment in my life, going back to my country in peace and giving a concert to all the humble people. To see the people hold their--receive me when I came back, it was definitely one of the most exciting and emotional moments in my life. But I knew it would come one day.

BLOCK: You knew it would come?

Mr. BASTOS: Yeah.

BLOCK: How did you know?

Mr. BASTOS: (Through Alpay Taskin) Well, because I'm a person of great hope, and I knew that it can't be at war forever and it had to end one day.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: You get the sense of your optimism in a number of songs on this new CD, and I'm thinking of one in particular, "Pitanga Madurinha"?

Mr. BASTOS: (Through Alpay Taskin) The name of a fruit, pitanga.

BLOCK: Name of a fruit. This is a song you had released on an earlier CD.

(Soundbite of "Pitanga Madurinha")

Mr. BASTOS: (Singing in Portuguese)

(Through Alpay Taskin) The pitanga fruit is an expression which lots of poets in Angola are using for something romantic. I took this example of the fruit because everybody knows in Angola what's meant by mentioning this fruit. And I wanted to tell about beautiful things because everybody's talking about saw and about suffering and everything. And in this song I wanted to give the people more about the beauty of simple things and that there is a future to come and there is--yeah, there is peace.

(Soundbite of "Pitanga Madurinha")

Mr. BASTOS: (Singing in Portuguese)

BLOCK: The pitanga in this song, the fruit, is very, very ripe, if I'm reading your translation right. In other words, if this is a metaphor, I can imagine that you might feel the same way about your own country and how long you've waited for peace.

Mr. BASTOS: (Through Alpay Taskin) The people in Angola, they understand exactly like you do because--the first song was released in '92 was called "Pitanga Madura," ripe. So this is a really, really ripe one.

(Soundbite of "Pitanga Madura")

Mr. BASTOS: (Singing in Portuguese)

BLOCK: When you were a child, your parents were nurses, and you traveled around the country a lot. How did that influence ultimately influence your music?

Mr. BASTOS: (Through Alpay Taskin) My parents were known as nurses, and they were traveling through all Angola. It was my privilege to see the provinces, the small villages and listen to their music and, in the same time, being off in cities and seeing the urban life and having also the opportunity to listen to Western music. I'm also very grateful that I could see the suffer of the people and their hopes, see the people looking forward even in those difficult times. And, of course, the spiritual power of seeing death and life.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: There are places on the album's songs that seem particularly Angolan, and there's one called "Dongo," which is about a boat...

Mr. ALPAY TASKIN: Yes. Yes, yes.

BLOCK: ...dongo is a word for an Angolan boat...

Mr. TASKIN: Yes.

BLOCK: ...where she was so rooted in your homeland. It seems like you must have been right back there emotionally when you wrote that song.

(Soundbite of "Dongo")

Mr. BASTOS: (Singing in Portuguese)

(Through Alpay Taskin) I was writing songs about the simple things in life. And the same time "Dongo's" a very--full of emotion, of course, and it's about the hard life and the simple life of these fishermen, who are facing the dangers of the open sea and, of course, the fear of the family waiting for the fisherman to come back.

BLOCK: There's a part in the middle of the song where you're chanting in a way; you're thanking them.

(Soundbite of "Dongo")

Mr. BASTOS: (Singing in Portuguese)

BLOCK: You say, `Thank you, thank you, thank you for what you've done for our land.'

Mr. BASTOS: (Through Alpay Taskin) Yeah. Maybe in this new world we are living with this high speed and commercialized, and most of the time we have forgot to thank these people who are serving us, who are helping us to live. I like to remember these forgotten people. I like to mention them again; they are not forgotten.

BLOCK: When you go back now to perform or to visit, are there people in Angola who would say, `You can't speak for us. You weren't here for the very hard years of civil war and all the horrible things that happened here. You were away'?

Mr. BASTOS: (Through Alpay Taskin) The people don't see me like this. Brother--it's the contrary. Give you an example: The African mothers--they tried when they could to send their sons away because they said one life is better than one death. Everybody knows in Angola that it was more important for me to sing and pay attention outside of Angola to this horrible war than being inside and risking my life.

BLOCK: You've lived away from your homeland now for almost half your life. Do you think about going back permanently? Could you ever go back to live in Angola?

Mr. BASTOS: (Through Alpay Taskin) I said once a long time ago I never left Angola. Spiritually I'm still there. And I feel like a citizen of the world. Through all the long years, my life was based in the world and not only in one country. One day when I think it's time to retire, I will have my house definitely in Angola nearby a river, and I will join a fisherman and we will go fishing.

BLOCK: Waldemar Bastos, thanks so much for coming in.

Mr. BASTOS: (Foreign language spoken)

BLOCK: The new CD from Waldemar Bastos is titled "Renascence." You can hear more music at our Web site, npr.org.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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