Rafael Marques de Morais is an Angolan journalist and civil rights activist known for his reporting on government corruption. In 1999, Marques wrote an article titled “The Lipstick of Dictatorship," in which he called Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos a dictator. Marques was subsequently arrested and charged with defamation. After a trial presided over by a former member of Angola’s secret police with no legal training, Marques was sentenced to six months imprisonment, but the Supreme Court suspended the sentence on the condition that he abstain from publishing anything deemed “defamatory" by the Angolan government for five years. He is currently the director of Maka Angola, an organization and blog dedicated to fighting corruption in Angola’s government.
Born in Luanda, Marques received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and media at the University of London and a master’s degree in African studies from the University of Oxford. He began working as a journalist in Angola at the Jornal de Angola, the only newspaper in the country at the time. After participating in a labor dispute at the paper, Marques left the country for a year. After he returned, he worked as a freelance journalist for Reuters and other news outlets. In 1998 he worked for the independent newspaper Folha 8 and became a contributor for the Open Society Institute.
After Marques’ trial for defamation, he dedicated his efforts to organizing a group of civic and religious leaders to call for a peaceful end to the Angolan Civil War. He has also written extensively about the trade in conflict diamonds in Luanda Province and corruption in oil-producing Cabinda Province.
In 2006, Marques received the Civil Courage Prize from the Northcote Parkinson Fund, which recognized that “his unvarnished criticisms of the Angolan army’s brutality and the malfeasance of the government and foreign oil interests put him at extreme personal risk." The U.S. National Association of Black Journalists awarded Marques the Percy Qoboza Award in 2000.