Musician and composer Tonito Fortunato died on Monday August 1, 2022 in Lisbon. With his death, Angolan culture is much poorer.
He leaves to posterity themes such as “Monangambé”, “Undengue Uami”, “Canto Evocativo”, “Mariquinha” and “Engraxador” which have become classics of Angolan popular music.
With more than 40 years devoted to music, he became a member of the famous “N’gola Rhythms”, as a singer and was one of the leading figures of the Conjunto Kimbambas do Ritmo.
Over time, he has established himself as one of the best lyricists, performers and composers in Angola. Tonito was an icon of Angolan music and his contribution to the national culture is unmistakable.
Filipe Silvino de Pina Zau, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Environment, when he learned of his death, said:
“It is with deep pain and dismay that I heard the news.”
The musician was one of the defenders of Angolan music and culture and transmitted these values to his brother, journalist and music critic, Jomo Fortunato, while being concerned with the documentation of singers and composers to better understand the Angolan history. music, of which he was involved in the main phases.
In 2011, he received a tribute at the Luanda Song Festival with competitors performing his own compositions. A senior civil servant at the Ministry of Culture, Tonito Fortunato was Angola’s cultural attaché in São Tomé and Príncipe.
In recent years he has done few performances, one of the most mediatic being his participation in the Show of the Month, as a guest of Carlitos Vieira Dias. The partnership with Duo Canhoto has also been remarkable in recent years. Even absent from the stage, her compositions continue to be present in several shows.
life and career
António Pascoal Fortunato “Tonito” was born on June 6, 1940 in Icolo Bengo, Bairro de São João. His work as a composer, notably “Morimbondo”, “Undengue Uami”, “Monangambé” and “Engraxador” is permanently marked by modernity and goes through stages that others have not practiced.
Tonito was born into a modest country family. From an early age, he listened to his mother sing while doing household chores and was influenced by the choirs of The United Methodist Church.
Under the strong influence of the Protestant pastor, his father, who from the beginning opened his eyes to the injustices of the system then in force, his moral attitude of resistance manifested itself in the way of composing and performing the songs which, dissatisfaction with the way Angolan culture was viewed during the colonial period marked him.
He was one of the leading figures of the Kimbambas do Ritmo group. She began her artistic career by devoting herself to revolutionary musical activism, collecting melodies and rhythms from both rural and urban areas.
The song “Damba Maria” stands out, taken from a short story by Óscar Ribas and “Ti Xico Zá”, a song of social denunciation about the women who were raped because of bags of fuba by the taverneiro settlers.
However, the song “Monangambé” was the anthem that went around the world, which aroused the deepest feelings of revolt against the colonial “status” and which appeared in almost all the repertoires of artists who claimed of deep angolanity.
He is the author of the songs of the soundtrack of the first major post-independence play entitled “History of Angola», 1976. He participated with Amadeu Amorim and Carlitos Vieira Dias in the Angolan cultural trip exclusively for the North American television channel CNN.
He has represented Angola in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Belgium, Mexico, Cape Verde, Cuba, Tanzania, São Tomé and Príncipe, among other countries.
In Switzerland, he has worked with various organizations promoting festivals and cinema and folklore with personalities related to ethno-musicalities and cultural development.
Considered a composer of anthology, Tonito Fortunato is part of the galaxy of Angolan musicians who have conceptually constructed the vision of modern Angolan music.
He is quoted many times by those who have shared moments from his musical career, as “one of the most inspired Angolan composers of all timefor the metaphorical reach and melodic grandeur of the songs he created, some of which are classics of the Angolan songbook.
He was the lead singer of the famous Angolan musical group “N’gola Ritmos” and wrote songs in partnership with Liceu Vieira Dias, Euclides de Fontes Pereira (Fontinhas) and Catarino Bárber. She set to music poems by Agostinho Neto, Jofre Rocha and Manuel Alegre, respectively, “bush path“,”the shoe shiner“,”sad boy“and “Passing Windstorm“.
His own songs were performed by Eleuterio Sanches (“Monangambe”), Melody Trio (“Maria Sessa”) Sarah Chaves (“kurikute”) Rui Mingas (“Wasp” and “An Undengue Uami“), Belita Palma (“Monami Xico“and “bush path”), Carlitos Vieira Dias (“Nzala), Dionisio Rocha (“palace“), and also by Bonga, Martinho da Vila, Dódó Miranda, MB Genius, Té Macedo, Carlos Lopes, J. Lourenzo, among others.
Tonito said in an interview that he never recorded an album during the colonial era, as he disagreed with the revenue, rights and sales policies of the time.
His only recorded work refers to two non-marketable singles with lyrics and music related to plays in Angola, as part of the Angolan government’s cultural project.
He ended up leaving, for the Angolan songbook, a single recorded breath. The 11-composition album, entitled “Mafumeira” recorded in Luanda, Paris and Faro, was released in 2015, with themes in Kimbundu and Portuguese.
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Image: © 2022 Francisco Lopes-Santos