Translated by Sabina Szymikowska
Aleksander Labuda was born on 9 August 1902 in Mirachowo, near Kartuzy. He started his education in a German school in Mirachowo . In 1918-1920 he took a Polish language course organized first in his home village and then in Miechucino. We went on to study in Państwowe Seminarium Nauczycielskie Męskie (State Teachers College for Men) in Kościerzyna. In 1923 Labuda passed his secondary school certificate exam and took on teaching, first in Linia and then in Zalew. With Jan Trepczyk, they were the founder members of the Regional Teachers Association (1929). In the early 1930s he started writing articles for Gryf and briefly for Gryf Kaszubski. In 1933, Labuda gave up teaching and devoted all his energy to the newly-started Zrzesz Kaszëbskô. He was its editor in 1933-1939.
In 1936 Labuda moved to Toruń, where he first worked for the Inland Revenue and then again as a teacher in the village of Skąpe near Toruń.
During World War II he worked as a teacher in Bącz and then, enlisted into the Wehrmacht, he landed up in Crete. He was taken captive by the English, transferred to Africa, where he finally joined the Polish army.
After returning from war in 1946, Labuda resumed his work for Kashubia and for the reborn Zrzesz Kaszëbskô (closed down in 1947). He was one of the founder members of Zrzeszenie Kaszubskie (the Kashubian Association) in 1956 (later renamed Zrzeszenie Kaszubsko-Pomorskie – the Kashubian-Pomeranian Association) from which he was expelled in 1961 under intense pressure from the authorities. He still hasn’t been rehabilitated.
Until the day of his retirement in 1964, he was a teacher in Bęgardów, Cząstkowo and Tłuczewo. He became a member of Związek Literatów Polskich (the Polish Writers Union) in 1976.
Aleksander Labuda died on 24 October 1981 and was buried in Strzepcz.
He made his literary debut in Chëcz Kaszëbskô with the poem Wałë in 1930. He published his poems in Bënë ë Buten, Gryf (and its supplement Gryf Kaszubski), Zrzesz Kaszëbskô (and the supplement Chëcz). Seven of his poems were featured in Kaszëbsczi piesniôk. No collection of Labuda’s poems was published during his lifetime. The collections Kaszëbsczim jesmë lëdã and Ewanielskô spiéwa were brought out in 1996 and 2002 respectively.
He published his poem Reknica in Zrzesz Kaszëbskô and also made himself known as the author of stories for children, amusing anecdotes (gôdczi – typical of Kashubia) and the spectacle of „scynanié kani“ (beheading of the kite) which was staged in Dobrzewino in 1931. His short story Na grańce was left unfinished.
Labuda was probably best known for his feature articles printed in Gryf, Zrzesz Kaszëbskô, Echo Ziemi Wejherowskiej, Litery, Biuletyn Zrzeszenia Kaszubsko-Pomorskiego (Newsletter of the Kashubian-Pomeranian Association, later Pomerania).
So far six Labuda’s collected feature articles have been published and they came under the titles Guczów Mack godo (1934), Guczow Mack godo. Kąsk do smjechu. Pjerszech pół kope godk (1971), Guczow Mack godo. Zupa z kreszków. Dregjich pół kope godk (1971), Guczow Mack godo. Kukuk (1974), Guczów Mack gôdô. Chochołk (1979), and all of them collected in one volume Guczów Mack gôdô (1992).
In 1977 Labuda started publishing in Pomerania a series of his texts on Kashubian beliefs and devils entitled Najé dëchë.
He is also the author of Zasady pisowni kaszubskiej ze słowniczkiem ortograficznym (1939), Słowniczek kaszubski (1960). His Słownik polsko-kaszubski. Słowôrz kaszëbsko-polsczi (1982) with about 20,000 entries was published after his death.
In 1977 Students’ Club Pomorania honoured Labuda’s work with the Stolem Award.
Aleksander Labuda used a variety of pseudonyms: Krëzbùlów Jadam, Grzemùłków Tóna, Gùczów Mack, A.L., Czajôszk L., Czajôszk Lëdomir, Lara, Lara S., Smãtk/Smętk/Smątk, Kôłp.