The Latymer School History Magazine - page 1

Zeca Afonso
‘Grândola, vila
morena
Terra da
fraternidade
O povo é
quem mais
ordena
Dentro de ti, ó
cidade’
‘Grândola,
swarthy town
Land of
fraternity
It is the people
who lead
Inside of you,
oh city’
This is the first
verse of Zeca Afonso’s
‘Grândola Vila Morena’,
which was broadcast in the
early hours of the morning of
the 25
th
April 1974 by the
Portuguese radio station
Rádio Renanscença. This was
sure to turn a few heads –
Afonso was all but banned
from the airwaves, the
majority of his works littered
with political and social
messages directly at odds
with the ‘Estado Novo’ (New
State) regime that ruled
Portugal at the time. This
piece of his was no different;
comprised solely of male
voices backed by a steady
beat of boots crunching on
gravel and carrying themes
of brotherhood and equality,
it seemed the station was
playing a dangerous game.
In fact, its significance ran a
whole lot deeper, a
significance only fully
understood by a small
minority of those who had
tuned in.
The song acted as a signal
given by the
Movimento das
Forças Armadas (MFA)
, a
group of left wing military
officers who had conspired
overthrow Prime Minister
Marcello Caetano and his
oppressive regime. It
announced the official
beginning of the revolution,
though the soldiers had
been put on standby by a
previous, rather more
unlikely signal.
Two hours before the radio
broadcast, there was an
airing of Portugal’s entry to
the 1974 Eurovision song
contest - Paulo de Carvalho
singing the love ballad ‘E
Depois do Adeus’ (‘and after
the farewell’). It hadn’t
impressed the judges in
Brighton three weeks
previously, scoring a paltry 3
points and coming joint last,
and yet to this day alongside
Afonso’s stirring piece holds
great cultural importance in
the hearts and minds of the
Portuguese.
The resulting
‘revolution’
was one of
the most
peaceful in
history – not a
single shot
was fired in
the 15 or so
hours that it
lasted. The
MFA issued
broadcasts
warning for
the public of
Lisbon to stay
safe inside
their homes
as the coup
was carried
out, but in a release of
emotion that had been
cooped up for so long, the
citizens ignored the warnings
and poured out onto the
streets, turning the coup into
an inadvertent popular
revolution.
As the swathes of people
marched on the central
square, the coup – now with
military and civilian shoulder
to shoulder – passed through
the Lisbon flower market.
Here brilliant red carnations
were placed in gun barrels,
giving the revolution its
name and providing a fitting
symbol for the way the force
of human nature was almost
effortlessly managing to
topple a fascist government.
From then the coup marched
on to Largo do Como, the
national guard headquarters
where Caetano had resolved
to hide after seeing the mass
demonstration against him. A
journalist at the time, Adelino
FOLK MUSIC, EUROVISION & UPRISING:
THE CARNATION REVOLUTION
By Robert Johnson
1
I,II,III 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,...49
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