Paulina Chiziane, 2008
Paulina Chiziane at the 2008 International Literature Festival, Brazil (Photo: Otavio de Souza via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

Paulina Chiziane is one of Mozambique’s most established and prolific writers. Born in Manjacaze (Gaza province) in 1955, she grew up speaking Chope, the language of her ethnic group, and Ronga, a language spoken in Maputo where she grew up. Proficiency in Portuguese was acquired later, when she attended a Portuguese Catholic mission school in Maputo. Chiziane was 18 years old when Mozambique became independent. A one-time militant member of Frelimo (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique), she grew disenchanted by the revolution. She studied linguistics at the University Eduardo Mondlane, but abandoned her studies in order to dedicate herself to writing. Chiziane worked for the Mozambican Red Cross during the years of the conflict between Frelimo and Renamo (Mozambican National Resistance). Today, she continues to travel around the country, working with women’s groups and associations in several provinces of Mozambique.

Chiziane’s career as a writer began in 1984, when she started publishing short-stories in the Mozambican press (Tempo magazine and Domingo magazine). Known as the first woman to publish a novel in her country, Chiziane has published 6 novels and a collection of short stories to date: Balada de Amor ao Vento (1990), Ventos do Apocalipse (1993), O Sétimo Juramento (2000), Niketche: Uma História de Poligamia (2002), O Alegre Canto da Perdiz (2008), and As Andorinhas (2009, short-stories). Furthermore, Chiziane’s testimony ‘Eu, Mulher… por uma nova visão do mundo’, given in the context of a UNESCO initiative (preparation for the International Conference on Woman, Peace and Development), was published in 1994 and republished in 2014 by Nandyala publisher in Belo Horizonte. In 2013, Chiziane co-authored the novel Nas Mãos de Deus with Maria do Carmo da Silva. She also edited, with Angolan writer Dya Kasembe, a collection of stories entitled O Livro da Paz da Mulher Angolana: As Heroínas sem Nome, a book that brings together 80 narratives of Angolan women who survived the war to tell their stories. In Portugal, her work is published by the prestigious mainstream press Caminho (part of the Leya group since 2008). Chiziane’s work has been translated into German, American, French and Italian.

In 2003, Chiziane shared the José Craveirinha literary prize with Mozambican writer Mia Couto, for her 4th novel, Niketche: Uma História de Poligamia, which secured her official international recognition for her work. In 2014, this international recognition was reinforced with the award of the title of Grande Oficial da Ordem Infante D. Henrique, awarded also to fellow Mozambican writer Ungulali Ba Ka Khosa, by Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva.

Chiziane’s work is decidedly woman-focused. Although she has never hesitated to defend this focus in interviews, Chiziane continues to reject the term ‘feminist.’ Her novels engage with the transitions between political systems from the colonial period to democracy, and her focus ‘is almost exclusively the patriarchal structuring of sexual relations in the Tsonga cultures of Southern Mozambique’ (Owen, 2007). Chiziane takes ‘this very specific, localized example of patriarchal culture [in order to] trace the ways in which it has interacted with different but overlapping historical discourses of modernity’. Chiziane’s writing also shows a concern for issues such as emigration and women’s economic (in)dependence from their husbands, families and communities, denouncing the extent to which gender power relations are implicated in the production, regulation and consumption of difference and resistance in the postcolonial world (Martins, 2012). Chiziane has stated in interviews that she was influenced by the paradigmatic Portuguese poet Florbela Espanca (Laban, 1998; Martins and Tavares, 2008 [unpublished]).

The Mozambican author has marketed her career as a writer around a double refusal that affects her image within Mozambique and outside: she has refused to follow both the genre with which militants and writers have designed Mozambique’s nationalist and revolutionary consciousness, and the terminology generally used to describe the producers of novels – the fiction format most privileged in the West and most often picked up for global distribution (Brouillette, 2007). As an author searching for new ways of writing about gender difference within the context of a primarily oral culture tradition, her turn to the novel, instead of the short-story or poetry, reveals a desire to question sexualised perceptions of male and female agency through writing, followed by a strategic re-translation of what is meant by ‘novelist’ and ‘novel’. This re-translation is well-advertised by the publishing house Caminho in the paratextual information found on the back covers of Chiziane’s books, designed to construct the ‘market reader’ in the light of the author’s preference to be read as a storyteller rather than a novelist. More recently, Chiziane has actively criticised the arrival and influence of foreign churches (i.e., the Igreja Universal, Assembleia de Deus) and Brazilian soap operas in Mozambique. A documentary about Chiziane’s life and work, based on the experience of medium that is at the heart of the novel Na Mão de Deus  is being planned by Mozambican director Aldino Languana.

Compiled by Ana Margarida Dias Martins (Exeter)


Ventos do Apocalipse (Lisbon: Caminho, 1999)

O Sétimo Juramento (Lisbon: Caminho, 2000)

Niketche: Uma História de Poligamia (Lisbon: Caminho, 2002)

Balada de Amor ao Vento (Lisbon: Caminho, 2003)

O Alegre Canto da Perdiz (Lisbon: Caminho, 2008)

As Andorinhas (Maputo: Índico, 2009)

O Livro da Paz da Mulher Angolana: As Heroínas sem Nome (co-edited with Dya Kasembr) ( Luanda: Editora Nzila, 2010)

Eu Mulher: Por Uma Nova Visão do Mundo (Belo Horizonte: Nandyala, 2013)

Na Mão de Deus (co-authored with Maria do Carmo da Silva) (Maputo: n.p., 2013)

Por Quem Vibram os Tambores do Além (Maputo: n.p., 2013)


Campos, Sandra: ‘Corporeal Identity: Representations of Female Sexuality and the Body in the Novels of Paulina Chiziane’ in Sexual/Textual Empires: Gender and Marginality in Lusophone African Literature, ed. by Hilary Owen and Phillip Rothwell (Bristol: University of Bristol Press, 2004, pp. 137-154)

Cesário, Irineia Lina: ‘Niketche: a dança da recriação do amor poligâmico’ ([Masters dissertation] São Paulo: PUC, 2008)

Chaves, Leocádia Aparecida: ‘As margens da nação moderna em Ventos do Apocalipse, de Paulina Chiziane’ ([Masters dissertation] Belo Horizonte: Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais, 2010)

Costa, Renata Jesus da: ‘Subjectividades femininas: mulheres negras sob o olhar de Carolina Maria de Jesus, Maria Conceção Evaristo e Paulina Chiziane’ ([Masters dissertation] São Paulo: PUC, 2007)

Costa, Rosilene Silva da: ‘Ventos do Apocalipse: ventos de mudança em tempos de pós’ ([Masters dissertation] Rio Grande do Sul: Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, 2009)

Cunha, Teresa: ‘Para além de um Índico de desesperos e revoltas. Uma análise feminista pós-colonial do poder e de autoridade de mulheres de Moçambique e Timor-Leste’ ([PhD dissertation] Coimbra: Universidade de Coimbra, 2011)

David, D.L.: ‘O desencanto utópico ou o juízo final: um estudo comparado entre A Costa dos Murmúrios de Lídia Jorge e Ventos do Apocalipse, de Paulina Chiziane’ ([PhD dissertation] São Paulo: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas, 2011)

Freitas, S.R.F. de: ‘A condição feminina em Balada de Amor ao Vento de Paulina Chiziane’ ([PhD dissertation] João Pessoa: CCHLA, 2012)

Gamito, Eduardina Menezes dos Santos: A mulher e o imaginário tradicional em Paulina Chiziane (Maputo: Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, 2004)

Gonçalves, Anamélia Fernandes: ‘Corpos transfigurados: representações do corpo na ficção de Paulina Chiziane’ ([Masters dissertation] São João del Rei: Universidade Federal de São João Del-Rei, 2010)

Hamilton, Russell: ‘Niketche – dança de amor, erotismo e vida: uma recriação novelística de tradições e linguagem por Paulina Chiziane’ in A Mulher em África: Vozes de uma Margem Sempre Presente ed. by Inocência Mata and Laura Cavalcante Padilha (Lisbon: Edições Colibri, 2007, pp. 317-330)

Jones, Eleanor K.: ‘Diminished Returns: Mozambican Masculinities in José Craveirinha’s Xigubo and Paulina Chiziane’s O Sétimo Juramento’ (Forum for Modern Language Studies 52.1, 2016, 81-99 (doi:10.1093/fmls/cqv096)

Kutter, Cíntia Acosta: ‘Balada de Amor ao Vento, de Paulina Chiziane, um romance de formação refletido em corpo feminino’ ([Masters dissertation] Niterói, Universidade Federal Fluminense, 2013)

Laranjeira, Pires: ‘O feminino da escrita: espinhoso marfim’ in A Mulher em África: Vozes de uma Margem Sempre Presente ed. by Inocência Mata and Laura Cavalcante Padilha (Lisbon: Edições Colibri, 2007, pp. 527-534)

Martins, Ana Margarida Dias: ’Prisoners of Anamnesis: Exorcising History through Storytelling in the Work of Lídia Jorge and Paulina Chiziane’ ([Masters dissertation] Manchester: MUP, 2005)

—: ‘The Whip of Love: Decolonising the Imposition of Authority in Paulina Chiziane’s Niketche: Uma História de Poligamia’ (The Journal of Pan-African Studies 1.3, March 2006, pp. 69-85)

—: ‘At the Heart of Violence: Gender, Exoticism and War in Paulina Chiziane’s Ventos do Apocalipse and Lídia Jorge’s A Costa dos Murmúrios’ in Making Waves Anniversary Volume: Women in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin-American Studies ed. by Ann Davies, Parvathi Kumaraswami and Claire Williams (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008, pp. 203-220)

—: ‘Niketche: A Story of Success’ (ellipsis 7, December 2009, pp. 109-137)

—: Magic Stones and Flying Snakes: Gender and the Postcolonial Exotic in the Work of Paulina Chiziane and Lídia Jorge (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2012)

—: ‘Estar aqui: a força antropológica de Balada de Amor ao Vento’ in Paulina Chiziane: Vozes e Rostos Femininos de Moçambique ed. by Maria Miranda and Carmen Secco (Curitiba: Appris, 2013, pp. 47-72)

Mata, Inocência: ‘O Sétimo Juramento de Paulina Chiziane: uma alegoria sobre o preço do poder’ (Scripta 4, 8, 2001, pp. 187-191)

Mendes, Marli Maria: ‘Abraço utópico entre Logos e Sofia em romances de Paulina Chiziane’ ([PhD dissertation] Belo Horizonte: Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais, 2009)

Miranda, Maria Geralda, and Tindó Secco, Carmen Lucia [eds.]: Paulina Chiziane: Vozes e Rostos Femininos de Moçambique (Curitiba: Editora Appris, 2013)

Nascimento, H. do: ‘Com quantos retalhos se faz um quilt? Costurando a narrativa de três escritoras negras contemporâneas’ ([PhD dissertation] Rio de Janeiro: Instituto de Letras, 2008) 

Nascimento, Luciana Alberto: ‘A dança das contradições em Niketche: Uma História de Poligamia, de Paulina Chiziane’ ([Masters dissertation] Mato Grosso: Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso, 2011)

Owen, Hilary: Mother Africa, Father Marx: Women’s Writing of Mozambique, 1948-2002 (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2007)

—: ‘Third World/Third Sex: Gender, Orality and a Tale of Two Marias in Mia Couto and Paulina Chiziane’ (Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 84.4, 2007, pp. 475-488)

Peruzzo, L.D.: ‘De armas e de palavras: um estudo comparado da temática da Guerra em Terra Sonâmbula, de Mia Couto, e Ventos do Apocalipse, de Paulina Chiziane’ ([PhD dissertation] São Paulo: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas, 2011)

Rainho, Patrícia and Silva, Solange: ‘A escrita no feminino e a escrita feminista em Balada de Amor ao Vento e Niketche: Uma História de Poligamia’ in A Mulher em África: Vozes de uma Margem Sempre Presente ed. by Inocência Mata and Laura Cavalcante Padilha (Lisbon: Edições Colibri, 2007, pp. 519-525)

Robert, B.K.: ‘A consciência da subalternidade: trajetória da personagem Rami, em Niketche: Uma História de Poligamia, de Paulina Chiziane’ ([Masters dissertation] São Paulo: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas, 2010)

Rosário, Lourenço: ‘Niketche: o existêncialismo no feminino’ in Singularidades II (Lisbon: Texto Editores, 2007, pp. 115-118)

Santos, T.C.: ‘Entre a tradição e a modernidade: O Sétimo Juramento de Paulina Chiziane’ ([Masters dissertation] Rio de Janeiro: UFRJ, 2010)

Santos, Waltercy Alves dos: ‘A voz feminina na literatura de ascendência Africana: hibridismo de mitos e ritos nos romances Niketche de Paulina Chiziane e A Cor Púrpura de Alice Walker’ ([Masters dissertation] São Paulo: PUC, 2008)

Silva, C.R.M. da: ‘Xiboniboni: a metáfora dos espelhos em Niketche, de Paulina Chiziane’ ([Masters dissertation] Rio de Janeiro: UFRJ, 2009)

Tedesco, Maria do Carmo Ferraz: ‘Narrativas da moçambicanidade: os romances de Paulina Chiziane e Mia Couto e a reconfiguração da identidade nacional’ ([PhD dissertation] Brasília: Department of History, 2008)

Vitorino, Shirlei Campos: ‘Paulina Chiziane e Gioconda Belli: Vozes confluentes na geografia da guerra?’ ([PhD dissertation] Rio de Janeiro: Universidade Federal Fluminense, 2010)

Compiled by Ana Margarida Dias Martins (Exeter)

Interviews/in the Media

Borrego, Lúcia Maria Marques: ‘Paulina Chiziane’ (Faces de Eva: Estudos sobre a Mulher 10, 2003: 55-163)

Diogo, Rosália: ‘Paulina Chiziane: As diversas possibilidades de falar sobre o feminino’ in Paulina Chiziane: Vozes e Rostos Femininos de Moçambique, ed. by Maria Geralda de Miranda and Carmen Lucia Tindó Secco (Curitiba: Editora Appris, 2013: 361-370)

Freitas, Douglas, and Hailer, Marcelo: ‘A Freedom Fighter at rest, and at Ease with her Own Contradictions’ (International Boulevard, 2014), available online at

Guerreiro, Manuela Sousa: ‘A escrita no feminino’ (Revista Moçambique 23, December 1999)

Laban, Michel: Moçambique: Encontros com Escritores, vol 3 (Porto: Fundação Eng. António de Almeida, 1998)

Leite, Ana Mafalda et al.: ‘Interview with Paulina Chiziane’ in Speaking the Postcolonial Nation: Interviews with Writers from Angola and Mozambique, ed. by Ana Mafalda Leiter et al. (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2014, pp. 199-220)

Manjate, Rogério: ‘Ser escritora é uma ousadia!!!’ (Madeirazinco, 2002), available online at

Martins, Ana Margarida Dias: Unpublished Interview with Paulina Chiziane’ (Minneapolis, 2006), available online at!interview-to-paulina-chiziane/ct6g

Miranda, Maria Geralda de, and Langa, Fátima: ‘Entrevista à Paulina Chiziane’ in Paulina Chiziane: Vozes e Rostos Femininos de Moçambique, ed. by Maria Geralda de Miranda and Carmen Lucia Tindó Secco (Curitiba: Editora Appris, 2013: pp. 349-356)

Moreira, José da Silva: ‘Escrevo estas coisas e fico arrepiada’ (Expresso [Cartaz], 4 December 1999, pp. 38-39)

Wieser, Doris: ‘Os anjos de Deus são brancos até hoje, entrevista a Paulina Chiziane’ (Buala, 26 November 2014), available online at