Thank you, Margarida Tengarrinha

To the lucky children of freedom, like me, Tengarrinha is owed a gratitude no less than that we owe to our biological mothers

There are those who know me for being, among other things, a proud Algarvian and Portimo native. Yes, I really love the region and the city where I was born and I don't intend to leave. I often even say that the greatest gesture of love and parochialism I had towards this territory was [yet] not having migrated, aware that my going to Lisbon would multiply a series of circumstances that could give my career a different scale.

However, I am fully aware that this love — like so many other loves — is above all irrational, it is tied to memories that time erodes, to landscapes that man destroys and to people that death steals.

No one is to blame for the land where they are born. It's a cosmic lottery, often perfect, sometimes unfair. Despite everything, I was lucky. Lots of luck.

The reasons that make me proud to be from here have always been countless, but, when led by a person, it was always someone within my family or friends.

Of course, there are several illustrious people from the Algarve, whose work I respect and admire: João de Deus, António Aleixo, Teixeira Gomes, just to name a few. But the generations and social contexts that separate us were never enough for me to identify to the point of feeling genuine pride in being fellow countrymen.

Until I met Margarida Tengarrinha from Portimo. First, uncommitted, I read an interview with you. Then I saw a video. Then another and one more. Now a documentary. Then another interview. In less than no time she had already bought two of her books.

And while I avidly consumed her history and her legacy, I thought to myself that Tengarrinha was perhaps the first woman to fit so comfortably into this imaginary pantheon of illustrious Algarvians. It was a beautiful April obsession that only came full circle on the day I had the honor of meeting her in person, precisely a year ago.

A woman who denied the comfort and status that her social position offered her to place herself alongside the most fragile; that, in defense of these anti-fascist ideals, she lived in hiding for several decades, with painful personal consequences: first, the separation from her daughters; then, the murder of his partner and father of his daughters José Dias Coelho, at the hands of PIDE — a tragedy that inspired José Afonso to compose A Morte Saiu À Rua —; and also exile.

Tengarrinha, also because she was a woman, personified a courage that I had not yet seen in any countryman. She gave up a peaceful motherhood, but haunted by gags, to be a mother in a free country.

To the lucky children of freedom, like me, Tengarrinha is owed a gratitude no less than that we owe to our biological mothers. She left the Algarve, and the country, so that today I can stay. She was so many other people so that today I can be who I am.

After the 25th of April, Tengarrinha was also a member of the Assembly of the Republic, a writer, illustrator and teacher. Her story inspired me and humiliated me. It was a kind of orphanhood that no longer existed for me, an orphanhood of references and the values ​​that I defend. It legitimized and inadvertently reinforced the pride I have in being from Portimo. Like me, she also loved the Algarve and Portimão; She also didn't disguise her pronunciation (which she confessed was one of the biggest obstacles of being underground); and she also, as soon as she could, didn't want to leave here.

As the 50th anniversary of the 25th of April passes, always remember the city that saw its birth, and that today enjoys the freedom for which it fought so hard — such a volatile freedom —, honor its name, its struggle and its legacy.

Wherever you are, my biggest thanks, Margarida Tengarrinha.


Author Dário Guerreiro, better known by his stage name Môce dum Cabréste, is a comedian



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