"And you? What are you reading now?" The journalist Nicolás Castellano and I looked at each other for a moment. It was last December 25, Christmas Day. We were in the living room of the house of Antonio Lozano in Agüimes, he harassed by the disease but always he, willing to smile, to a good talk, to the art of listening. We are happy to see you at last after receiving bad news about your condition, aware of its seriousness. In a few days I was returning to Senegal and it was floating in the air like a farewell feeling that we tried to take away from stories and anecdotes we laughed at.
"What are you reading?"
Antonio Lozano loved literature, good stories well told. The first time I saw him, he went in cholas and bermuda shorts. It was in the shelter of the Cabrón beach where the theatrers that this charming storyteller would come from all corners of the world were staying. I do not know how many years of that. Many. I was a young journalist who began to fascinate me with that Africa that throbs in our side inadvertently and Antonio was already a reference for me, a kind of guide that illuminated the path, a genius of the lamp. His Agüimes theater festival was like a light to which we would flutter fireflies.
Our roads were crossed knotted by this continent. We shared three editions of the Periplo Festival, in Puerto de la Cruz, and we met again in Bamako during the premiere of his work called Suleimán, directed by Mario Vega and performed by Marta Viera. Serene, patient, carrying each word with the precise sense, Antonio Lozano opened us shutters to peek at another reality, the literary Africa of Ken Bugul, Thierno Monenembo, Sami Tchak, but also the one that resists, that of Thomas Sankara or Aminata Traoré.
Caught in his romantic hand I traveled to Ouagadougou, Timbuktu and Baghdad, no less, I went into the paths of young people who travel through the desert with the dream of Europe in the eye, I climbed in a time machine and moved to the Mandinga empire and the Guinean forest where the Kurukan Fuga was written. Antonio satiated that thirst for centuries. He understood before that almost all of us in need of bridges, of trees of the word under whose shade we listen to ourselves, of the importance of returning to Africa not as settlers but with the humility of those who need to understand.
That afternoon of Christmas day he told us that it was hard for him to pick up a book, that he was tired of the effort. But even at that moment, unrepentant reader, I wanted to hear those stories that fascinated him so much in the mouths of others.
His extensive work, both as a translator and a writer or as a theater author, will always be there, accompanying us. But their friendship, the gift of their conversation, their respect for others, their eternal effort of understanding, their curiosity and their vigorous and creative energy, so contagious, are even a better legacy. May the earth be light to you, brother.