Explorer of the Week: Feliciano dos Santos

Emerging Explorer Feliciano Dos Santos uses a guitar and a strong sense of rhythm to fight against against diseases and speak up for clean water and sanitation in Mozambique. Dos Santos contracted polio due to poor drinking water when he was a little boy growing up in Niassa Province and doesn’t want other children to endure this hardship. He stresses that the focus should be on peoples’ vital needs, “The many challenges they have to face, is not only access to drugs….We have to think about basic things, people can have access to vitamins every day, but with what kind of water will we drink these drugs?”

What projects are you working on now?
Access to land and community resources, health marketing social, home base care, water and sanitation.

What did the support from National Geographic help you accomplish?
The support gave me more access to funds, more visibility, and all the work I do also benefited from this support.

What is one of your favorite songs that you wrote?
“Kumalembe” (Cemetery). The idea of this song is to tell people not to be materialistic. When we die we don’t take anything with us.

Hear an interview with dos Santos on National Geographic Weekend:

Can you tell us about a child or person whose life was changed by your music or one of your songs?
Once I was in a church and heard the priest saying something about one of my songs: “Have you heard what Santos says in his song? It’s important to share things with others.” He was talking about the “Kumalembe” song. I felt so proud. It was nice to hear that my work can be used to motivate people.

If you had an endless supply of funds, what would your next project be?
It would be an art school. I’d love to teach children about painting, traditional dances, music, theater, and video. For me, it’s very important to use art to help people. I think the actual music is so empty and for me it’s important to pass a message through the music. I believe we have talented children, but they cannot show it because there aren’t music schools to help them to explore their talents.

What’s the biggest surprise you’ve discovered in your work or in the field?
I think that the biggest surprise I had is that the solution for a problem in a community is already there, with the community. And it always has been there. For example, there are lots of artificial products to treat water. But you see the community here use moringa, a natural plant, to purify their water. So, they already have the solution.
This is something that always has inspired us. Our rhythms and melodies come from the community. We don’t go far to get this inspiration. We base our work on traditions within the community.

Dos Santos and his band, Massoukos, were featured on the series “Music of Resistance.”

If you could trade places with one explorer at National Geographic, who would it be and why?

If I could I’d like to change places with Ken Banks. For me, his project is very interesting. I think we could use this mobile technology here in Mozambique. It would be very useful to spread news and urgent facts in a quick way.

If you could have any backup band in the world, what band would you choose?
The Wailers

Human Journey


Meet the Author
Amy Bucci is a web producer for National Geographic. Her projects mainly cover National Geographic explorers, grantees and initiatives.