terça-feira, maio 22, 2007

The African dream – from slavery in the XVI to the final resistance in Colonial War... para Azzim

The bond between Portuguese and African history is very tight, not only in a political way but also in a cultural approach. This closeness is effective from the time when the first contacts took place in the North African coast, in merchant cities of Ceuta, and Fez.
The year of 1415, when Portugal captured Ceuta, is generally considered the foundation date in the Portuguese seaborne empire because of it’s evident conquest role, as well as the cities nearby, for the Portuguese and Infant D.Henrique strategy in controlling the market routes in this region.
In the years that followed the conquest, several ships went on exploratory missions in the Atlantic Ocean, its no surprise that Azores and Madeira were found in those days. The colonization of these islands was a prototype for other colonies in the future, like Cap Vert or S. Tomé, where there weren’t local people also.
In North Africa and the Atlantic coast, the system applied was called trading post (feitoria), and was much more a mark of Portuguese strength, with military powers and trade purpose, that an effective colonization on the ground. Elsewhere the political system of capitania-donataria was implemented in the larger African territories, but also in the islands, and it’s defined by the overwhelming powers of the capitão-donatário, which embody the Portuguese king and its judicial, administrative and military role. Angola due to its immense territory needed a different and more centralized administration and, by 1592, the Governo-Geral was created to solve it.
In the beginning of XVI century is clear that a change in colonial administration was in prospect by the Portuguese as new institutions were created (e.g.: Provedoria dos Defuntos; Juizado dos Órfãos) or the Corregedor role strength, in order to balance the influence of the Capitão-Donatário. By those times the military presence and colonies structure were reorganized, as well as were founded the first hospitals and fire departments. Although the Portuguese presence in Africa was real, it is more than evident that the major focus until the middle XIX century, specifically before the Brazilian independence in 1822, wasn’t the African colonies.
The grito de Ipiranga[1] has an unparalleled importance in the Portuguese imaginary for it may be seen as the genesis of the end of the empire. Moreover, its consequences extremely affected the global empire theory and colonial project, as mark of the Portuguese inclination to Africa.
By those times, and after the liberal faction win at the Portuguese civil war, Portugal approached the European ideals such as nationalisms and state-nation, liberalism, human rights. The emerging significance of nationality, and the cultural history of each people obliged Portugal to really study his own territory and culture, and the Portuguese presence in Africa was minimum attending that there were zones in Mozambique and Angola absolutely unidentified.
The European recognition of Africa value was clear at Berlin Conference, in 1885, where the major monarchies tried to divide the continent according with their own interests. The Victorian monarchy achieved an unprecedented power, and it arranged for Africa a railroad from Cairo to Cap, but this plan was obstructed by the Portuguese intention to join together Angola e Mozambique. The dispute on both plans, known as the Pink Map, lasted for three years (1887-1890) and ended up with the British Ultimatum to Portugal and the Portuguese quit.
The Portuguese identity was profoundly affected by this giant diplomatic loss, and the investment in the capture of tribal Africans leaders, as Gungunhana, in 1895, and the exploratory missions were the palpable reply to it.
The instability originated by the monarchy collapse in 1910 and the fragile 1st Republic was severely felt in the Portuguese empire, especially in Africa. Although some policies had been made for the ultramarine territories, as the creation of a colony ministry in 1911, or a new legal and organic framework six years later, it’s clear that Africa was feeling a lack of global strategy.
The military coup, in 1926, but essentially the Estado Novo dictatorship brought some kind of project for all the Portuguese empire: Firstly, the Organic Basis for Colonial Administration (1926); secondly the Colonial Act (1930); but essentially the Ultramarine Administrative Reform approved, in 1933, in which ideological principles as well as legal mechanisms and structural reorganization are planned.
The period after WW II, ending in the colonial war is marked by an effort of the Portuguese empire to modernize economy and society. As in other post-industrialized countries the primary sector tend to lose influence, however in Portugal its clear that either tertiary as supposed, but also secondary activity were growing at a 9% annual average.
After 1961, with the colonial war in Guinea, Cap Vert, Angola and Mozambique the Portuguese administration at Africa was more symbolic than effective. As proved by the difficulty in taxes collection, and running the local governments and institutions.

[1] Prince D.Pedro, son of the Portuguese king, made a speech near Ipiranga river in 1822 in which he gives credit to Brazilian autonomy. His communication is the symbol of the Brazilian independence.
[2] MATTOSO, José (dir.), História de Portugal – o Estado Novo, vol. 7, Lisboa, Estampa, 1994

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