Elisio, the barefoot sociologist
Solidarité Socialiste

Contact presse : Ioanna Gimnopoulou
igimnopoulou@solsoc.be
02/505 40 83

Elisio, the barefoot sociologist

He was called the barefoot sociologist. No one knew the ‘interior’, as people say there, of the islands of Cape Verde archipelago better than Elisio. Santiago, of course, his island – Elisio was a ‘badio’-, but also the other great agricultural islands, Santo Antão and Fogo.

From surveys to meetings, from trainings to facilitation of seminars, Eliso strode across all ‘ribeiras’, hills and mountains, spending hours talking to anyone who would come across his path and was always ready to swallow the chalice of rum toddy that would be offered to him early in the morning. Elisio didn’t like the bourgeois way of life. He would only feel good in working-class circles. His Praia ramshackle house in Fazenda that he never left is a proof of it. It was located in the middle of what we used to call the “Bermuda Triangle”, of which each of the three angles was one of the least attractive bars where he used to disappear : Djonsa, Vila miséria, Asa branca.

Elio was a deep-rooted insubordinate intellectual. In the colonial era, he had to face the Portugues political police. However, once the independence was achieved, he opposed the liberating party, the PAICG, because it led to the establishment of a one-party system. Once again, at the moment of the democratic change in power, he joined the opposition to the party which had won a landslide victory in the first free elections and seized all levers of power. What could look like an about-face was actually a sign of a coherent political attitude, one of fierce independence and suspicion of anything related to power or abuse of power and deep contempt for careerists and opportunists.

Elisio was a well-known figure of Cape Verdean civil society, a pioneer of the non-profit sector, an architect of the NGO platform and one of the founding members of Citi Habitat, one the first NGOs in the country that he had led for the past 24 years.

Being slim, careful about his appearance and having always worn a beard that had earned him the nickname ‘Barabas’, this half-criminal half-resistant-fighter Bible character that narrowly avoided crucifixion, Elisio was stylish. With his unfailing composure, he had a fantastic dry wit that made him an unparalleled leader of Cape Verdean nights.

Elisio Rodrigues left us on 20 December 2013. He was president of the Cape Verdean NGO Citi Habitat, partner of Solidarité Socialiste since the beginning of the 90’s.

Jacques Bastin


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