Musician, singer/songwriter and environmental troubadour Ego Lemos is a remarkable man, with a remarkable voice in more ways than one.
Regarded as a significant East Timorese community member, Ego has lived through three tumultuous periods of his nation’s history – from the end of Portuguese colonial rule that lasted almost 500 years, through the Indonesian occupation, and into UN transition and independence early this century.
He was born in 1972, in the dying days of the Portuguese colonial administration. While he was a baby, his family was forced to flee the civil unrest following Portugal’s withdrawal, Fretilin’s declaration of independence, and Indonesia’s invasion. Ego was taken with his mother and relatives to the rural forests of East Timor, where he survived with other families for three years without basic infrastructure. During this time, and the period immediately thereafter when they were able to move back to the capital, Dili, Ego lost his three siblings to disease and malnutrition, and his father and grandfather to the confusion of war.
Unlike so many young men his age, when East Timor gained its independence after a bloody referendum in 1999, he was lucky to be alive. His activities had brought him close to death many times. Foreign helpers flooded into the country, and one of these, a permaculture trainer from Australia, would become Ego’s close friend and mentor.
Having taught himself English from dictionaries, Ego became his mentor’s translator, travelling the country with him to give workshops, train farmers and instigate projects all over the country in home gardening, nurseries and the concepts of sustainable agriculture. Soon he outgrew his position as a simple translator, and Ego Lemos founded the country’s first permaculture centre, Permatil, which he coordinated for five years; he also founded a highly successful sustainable-agriculture network, HASATIL, and both still flourish today.
It has been more than ten years that his voice as a songwriter, permaculturalist, and community-development worker has been charming audiences around the world with his inspiring enthusiasm for environmental and social revitalisation in his home country, East Timor, and abroad. Due to his diplomatic manner, fairness, and political eloquence Ego’s voice travels far to many sectors and people.
World Stages at NORPA, City Hall, Saturday 6 October from 1pm.