Historian, writer and teacher, Joel Rufino dos Santos died this morning (Sep. 4), in Rio de Janeiro, at 74. He died following complications from heart surgery he underwent on September 1st. Author of more than 50 fiction and non-fiction books, Rufino used to write for adults, young adults and children, won a few awards and was nominated more than once to the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the Nobel Prize for children's literature.
However, Rufino was also well known as an activist in the black movement. For Lucia Xavier, the president of the NGO Criola—conducted by black women—and member of the
National Racial Equality Council, "the role he played, both intellectually and politically, in the last 30 years was very important. He developed new tools to foster Afro-Brazilian cultures. His political life was marked with his fight against racism, always presenting new studies, but also bringing up issues of our interest that changed the Brazilian society thinking," she said. "Above all, he was an activist for the human being causes, and will be deeply missed."
Xavier pointed out that last month Rufino saved the life of a thief who was being lynched in Copacabana, in Central Rio, incident that has been reported by the press.
Since February, Rufino worked at Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice (TJRJ) as Director-General for Communication and Knowledge Dissemination. Under his management, innovative initiatives were endorsed, as the dramatized retrial of Tiradentes, the hero of Brazilian independence hanged in 1792. The play was called Unhanging Tiradentes: justice delivered, albeit late.
The presiding judge, Luiz Fernando Ribeiro de Carvalho, reported that Rufino's death is a great loss for intellectuals and professors. "[He was] a generous soul. We'll keep the professor's best examples. To us, Joel Rufino will leave the seed of his example, of a man dedicated to humanism and to the public cause."
He was born in Rio and his parents were from Pernambuco, Rufino studied history at the former Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Brazil, where he began a teaching career. He was one of the co-authors of Brazil's New History, the book was a landmark for Brazilian history. During the military dictatorship, he went into exile in Bolivia and then in Chile. He came back clandestinely during dictatorship and was imprisoned three times. In 2000, the letters he wrote in prison were turned into the book When I came back, I had a surprise.
With the amnesty law, he was reinstated to the Ministry of Education and invited to teach at the Faculty of Arts and he was further invited to teach in graduate school at the School of Communication at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). The university bestowed upon him the titles of recognized expertise and highly qualified professional in History. He had a PhD in Communication and Culture, and also received, from the Ministry of Culture, the commendation of Order of Rio Branco for his work with Brazilian culture.
All translations provided for his works were approximation and are not official.
Translated by Amarílis Anchieta
Fonte: Joel Rufino dos Santos, writer, teacher and historian, died in Rio