Personality of the Week: Alberico Cardoso

Pioneer of Portuguese-speaking Community dies

Alberico da Silva Cardoso died on 8th March at 13.00 in Lisbon, an event perhaps largely unnoticed outside the Portuguese-speaking community (Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, S. Tome and Principe Islands). However, the fact that he made his life an example of bringing peoples together is worth revealing to others from outside this community.

Alberico Cardoso launched the monthly magazine Africa Hoje (Today, in English) twenty years ago, with the intention of forging closer ties between Portugal and the five Portuguese-speaking African countries (Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and S. Tome and Principe Islands). The magazine concentrated on these five countries, mentioning also the main news events in other parts of Africa.

Shortly before he died, Alberico Cardoso told me “As journalists we can do two things – concentrate on the stories which create impact such as diseases and disasters, or bring some dignity to people, telling them about the nice things, the positive things, helping people to feel good about themselves and their origins”.

This was the intention and the success of the magazine Africa Hoje, which for twenty years produced a monthly edition in Portuguese and which sponsored events such as conferences, seminars, speeches, bringing experts together to speak about Africa's needs, finding solutions to the continent's problems, helping individuals and communities wherever and whenever possible.

However, Alberico Cardoso did not limit himself to Africa. His other magazines Portugal-Brazil and Gente e Viagens (People and Travel) concentrated on bringing the South American giant into the heart of the Portuguese-speaking community and on stimulating travel among the members of this community, helping the developing members to progress and helping the business communities to interact.

Alberico Cardoso was in this way the pioneer of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries a decade before it was officially formed. Finally, the weekly newspaper “Semanario Africa”, a publication for Africans in Portugal, was launched to give these residents an organism they could call their own.

Around a year ago, he called me into his office to speak about starting a newspaper for the 200.000-strong Russian speaking community in Portugal. “To give them dignity, to make them feel at home among us, to give them the chance to contact each other, to tell them about what their community is doing here and to extend our Portuguese hospitality to them in this way”.

This was, and will always be, Alberico Cardoso. Working for the community without caring about making anything for himself. Working hard to make others feel happy, working for the common good, working to bring people together, working to make people feel better about themselves and about their origins.

If Alberico Cardoso was little known outside the Portuguese-speaking  community, it is a telling example of his humble, unassuming approach to life and the nobility of his character and actions.

Alberico Cardoso may not be with us to continue his work but he blazed a trial which will be continued by others determined never to let the candles he lit burn out.

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Author`s name Olga Savka