if he marries off or at least has his sons procreate with local women, that the children of these couplings will become part of his clan. And as Mozambican citizens, they will be able to own the land legally in perpetuity.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-12-12 21:46Z by Steven

And so he [a Chinese businessman] develops this scheme to bring his sons to Mozambique – teenage sons, one of them about 17, one of them a few years younger. And his idea that he comes up with is that if he marries off or at least has his sons procreate with local women, that the children of these couplings will become part of his clan. And as Mozambican citizens, they will be able to own the land legally in perpetuity. And his hold on this rich valley then can’t be challenged. —Howard French

Terry Gross, “China Turns To Africa For Resources, Jobs And Future Customers,” Fresh Air, WHYY-FM Philadelphia, National Public Radio, May 27, 2014. http://www.npr.org/2014/05/27/316299135/china-turns-to-africa-for-resources-jobs-and-future-customers.

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Donas, Signares, and Free Women of Color: African and Eurafrican Women of the Atlantic World in an Age of Racial Slavery

Posted in Africa, History, Live Events, Papers/Presentations, Slavery, Women on 2012-11-25 05:39Z by Steven

Donas, Signares, and Free Women of Color: African and Eurafrican Women of the Atlantic World in an Age of Racial Slavery

127th Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association
New Orleans, Louisiana
2013-01-03 through 2013-01-06

AHA Session 153
Saturday, 2013-01-05: 09:00-11:00 CST (Local Time)
Chamber Ballroom II (Roosevelt New Orleans)

Chair: Hilary Jones, University of Maryland, College Park


Comment: Lorelle D. Semley, College of the Holy Cross

In the age of the Atlantic Slave Trade, African and Eurafrican women emerged as intermediaries between foreign traders and local populations. Europeans’ lack of knowledge in African languages, trade networks, local culture, social structures and political institutions provided African and Eurafrican women a unique opportunity to become cultural and economic brokers.  Portuguese adventurers on the coast of West Africa first named these women “senhoras” in the 16th century. Although Portuguese men coined the term, they were not the only Europeans to name and have socio-economic relationships with African and Eurafrican women. Over time each European group made the original Portuguese term their own: in Crioulo it became “nhara”, in French “signare”, in English “senora”, and “dona” among the Portuguese of Central Africa.  These ‘middle-women” surfaced all along the coast of Africa from the Senegambia to Mozambique between the 15th and the 20th centuries, although the most famous of these women were found in the port cities of Bathurst, Benguela, Bissao, Cacheu, Goree, Joal, Luanda, Osu, Portudal, Rufisque and Saint Louis. These women formed a distinct group within African and Afro-Atlantic society during an age of racial slavery, but the duration and trajectory of their lives varied across time and place.

“Donas, Signares & Free Women of Color” gathers scholars working on female African and Eurafrican entrepreneurs, brokers, and partners who allied with Portuguese, Spanish, French and Danish men in one specific enclave of Africa or the Americas. Together these four papers will question what made these women unique, how different European powers perceived them, if and how partnering with one particular European power over another influenced these women, and how their actions were shaped by their local environments. Panelists’ papers will also explore the trans-regional and trans-Atlantic connections between women in each society, drawing on comparative frameworks to interrogate the similarities and differences between each group. By exploring the individual stories of African and Eurafrican “middle-women” across the Atlantic world, this panel will move the scholarship beyond exoticism and generalizations. The panel’s ultimate goal is to determine if these women can and should be discussed as a coherent collective group throughout the Atlantic World or if scholars should continue to examine each group separately.

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Interracial Marriage in the Last Portuguese Colonial Empire

Posted in Africa, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2011-10-16 02:20Z by Steven

Interracial Marriage in the Last Portuguese Colonial Empire

Journal of Portuguese History
Volume 5, Number 1, Summer 2007
23 pages
ISSN: 1645-6432

Maria Eugénia Mata, Associate Professor of Economic History and History of Economics
University of Lisbon

The paper presents both the institutional background and the government philosophy regarding equality and non-prejudice within all of the territories under Portuguese sovereignty in the 1940s and 1950s, as well as tests carried out to discover if the decision to marry and racial homogamy could be considered independent variables, using annual data from statistical yearbooks relating to the colonies.

The conclusions demonstrate the existence of a social prejudice towards inter-racial marriage. The paper supports the belief that social divisions based on ethnicity must be included as part of the explanation for decolonization and independence.

The Government’s philosophy on cohesion during the last Portuguese Empire

In the last phase of the Portuguese empire (1930s-1974/5), the government’s political philosophy in relation to the colonial territories was based on considerable propaganda about the respectful relationship between the Portuguese and other peoples in their colonies. It is the aim of this study to describe the official Portuguese literature on these issues and check its accuracy for interpreting social interaction through marriage in the Portuguese colonial territories of the period.

In political speeches, Portugal was presented as a vast and great nation. Its domains and sovereignty spread over a vast range of territory and were distributed across all the continents of the planet. This was a supreme achievement, according to J. M. da Silva Cunha, one of Salazar’s Secretaries of State, later appointed Overseas Minister: “Providence led Portugal to the mission of bringing all the peoples of Europe and other continents together, taking to them the Christian message, along with European civilization”. Official speeches usually presented Portugal as an honorable nation that had set sail from Portuguese coasts to discover the whole world. This heritage was still present in the Portuguese empire, made up of a mainland territory in Western Europe, four archipelagoes in the Atlantic (the Madeira Islands, Azores, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe), Angola and Mozambique on the African continent, several territories in India, a special pearl close to China, namely Macau, and the territory of East Timor in the Pacific Ocean. So, Portuguese territory was comprised of several provinces, beginning in the northern mainland province of Minho (near Spanish Galicia) and reaching all the way to the antipodes, in Timor.

Also, according to the language of its government, the Portuguese people were a cohesive nation, speaking the same language (Portuguese), sharing the same faith (Christianity), working under the same political rule (the Portuguese administration), and taking pride in the same flag (the Portuguese flag), which was flown in all of the national territory on every continent. There were no ethnic conflicts: “We arrived where we are now, more than five centuries ago, to spread Christianity and to remain”. School children were taught that all Portuguese were equal. Whatever might be their birth, their geographical origin, or the color of their skin, they were all equal. As Cunha (1964) puts it: “So, from the beginning we considered Africans as our equals, in this way eliminating all racial discrimination”.

The Portuguese culture was a single culture, it was said. Even considering that local conditions might be different, the official ideology always stressed that, although they might differ, there were no superior or inferior cultures. Miscegenation was to be the rule, as nineteenth-century literature accused Portugal of a weakness in terms of colonization, which stemmed from miscegenation: “(…) specialist literature of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth (…) accused us of a colonizing disability (as was said at the time), because we could not preserve the purity of our race”.

So, the Portuguese nation, according to the government, was a multi-continental, multi-racial unit based on a Portuguese identity of high moral and political standards: “Portugal will continue to remain integral, with her own features of a State and multi-continental Nation, made up of the most varied ethnicities”.8 Even scholars and academics shared a good deal of this vision. According to Boxer (1961), “It is to the credit of Portugal (…) that she made no distinction of race and color and that all her subjects, once they had become Catholics, were eligible for official posts.” Despite abandoning the thesis of  a shared religious faith, a Portuguese professor of economics at the Technical University of Lisbon was to write in an academic work: “We have created throughout five centuries the most extraordinary multi-racial, national community of all times, in which merit comes from the value of the human being and not from the color of the skin. (…) Historically and currently, the Portuguese nation is, as a consequence, a mosaic of multi-continental, multi-racial populations with religious diversity”.

Sometimes a “civilization-bas” argument was added, and contradictions about the “non-superior character” of some cultures appeared: “While the Portuguese policy for human relationships in the overseas territories is impressive because of the vastness of the territories in which it applies, it is even more impressive because of its purpose of transforming aborigines into Portuguese, as Portuguese as anyone born in mainland Portugal, as it is high moral and social standards that lead them to Lusitanity, and to complete integration in the Nation”.

Did such honorable official aims result in a social cohesion that could be expressed in terms of statistical categories or indicators? Did territorial discontinuities encapsulate different societies, with different literacy levels and prejudice? Was this philosophy confirmed in terms of race relationships, inter-racial marriage and miscegenation? Is it possible to find such a Lusitanity expressed in attitudes towards marriage that lie hidden in the data of registered marriages recording different colored skins throughout the empire? It is a fact that Portugal had one of the most far-reaching colonial empires in world history and that the Portuguese had a reputation for particularly integrative and intimate relations with the indigenous groups that were colonized. In order to unify all of the territories under the same legal rules, to endow them with the same status, and to prove that they were considered as a homogeneous territory, each of the colonies was designated a province, an institutional status that was introduced in the constitutional reform of 1951. In this new institutional framework, overseas provinces and mainland provinces were partners in the same empire. However, did this predominant official discourse reflect the truth? Can we believe in this perspective for the Portuguese colonial empire in the period after the Second World War?

The aim of this paper is to test the accuracy of the language used in official political speeches during these decades, by observing how different kinds of local cultural cleavages led to different social experiences of marriage in the various territories. As far as culture, education and ethnicity are concerned, interracial marriage and miscegenation were two important aspects to be observed in Portuguese colonial territories. This paper observes that social and color differences can help to explain how there was a racial prejudice in the Portuguese Empire that must be recognized as yet one more factor helping to explain the success of the colonial wars for independence.

There is a long bibliography on the period, dating from the creation of the Estado Novo to the independence of the territories that were previously under Portuguese sovereignty (1920s-30s to 1974-75). However, most of the contributions are devoted to imperial, political or economic aspects, and even those studies devoted to analyzing the colonial philosophy, social prejudice and social cleavages do not approach the aspects of inter-racial marriage in a quantitative way.15 A recent work (Matos, 2006) is quite exhaustive in dealing with questions of racial representations and color from the 16th century to the 1970s, although it follows an anthropological approach and does not use any consistency checks.

The independence achieved by the different colonies also makes the study of ethnic and social cleavages much more interesting in so many countries, since they have such different features and geographical locations, while nonetheless sharing a common Portuguese colonial past. This paper seeks to shed some light on the study of all of these colonies today…

Read the entire article here.

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Africa’s Latin Quarter

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive on 2011-06-16 02:38Z by Steven

Africa’s Latin Quarter

The Walrus
July 2008 (Escape: Summer 2008)

Stephen Henighan

Despite bleak poverty, Mozambique’s multi-ethnic literary culture thrives

In downtown Maputo, the monument to the origins of apartheid is just off Karl Marx Street. Maputo, with its manageable proportions, dreamy views over Delagoa Bay, and cosmopolitan restaurant scene, is one of Africa’s most pleasant capital cities. I walked to the apartheid monument through windblown red dust and young people lugging buckets of water into high-rise buildings. Most modern conveniences—such as traffic lights, credit cards, and cellphones—work in Maputo, but a few, such as the water supply in apartments, are unreliable.

Mozambican literary culture, which I’d come to Maputo to explore, is rooted in the country’s history as a Portuguese colony that gained its independence through a Marxist-Leninist revolution in 1975, and in its proximity to neighbouring South Africa. Nowhere are this history’s contradictions more evident than in the Louis Trichardt Memorial Garden. On the back wall of a patio sunk below the street, a plaster frieze depicts Trichardt, a stout Afrikaner, leading oxen through the wilderness in the late 1830s. A trilingual inscription in Afrikaans, Portuguese, and English, under the heading “They Harnessed the Wilds,” lauds the Portuguese colonialists for their hospitality to the South African Voortrekkers, and their solidarity in fighting off “native tribesmen.” Most self-respecting Marxist revolutions would have demolished this racist kitsch, but Mozambique, a coastal nation with a tolerance for strangers, prefers to allow all the dissonant chords of its past to resonate at once.

“Mozambique is a crossroads,” Mia Couto, the country’s best-known writer, tells me. “Things happened here that are unique in the history of Africa. There’s an acceptance of others, a way of receiving others, that I haven’t found in other African countries. This doesn’t mean that we’re better than others, but rather that there’s a very long history of relating to outsiders.”…

Mozambique’s racial mixing dates back to between AD 300 and 800, when a vast wave of people of Indonesian descent invaded the East African coastline. Travelling in coastal Mozambique, I passed through areas inhabited by tiny, fine-boned people with remotely Asian physiques. The African languages spoken by these people contain vestiges of Malay vocabulary. There was even significant trade with China, and the spread of Islam brought a tradition of marriage alliances with the Arab traders who dominated Mozambique’s economy in the early Middle Ages. The residue of this period is evident not only in the high-cheekboned racial inheritance of people in northern Mozambique, but in the country’s many mosques, ranging from the Aga Khan’s shimmering Ismaili mosque in downtown Maputo to the tiny, green-painted huts used for worship in villages. Too poor to build minarets, the villages designate their mosques with crescents raised on poles.

Portuguese colonialism, which began with the arrival of Vasco da Gama in 1498, intensified Mozambique’s racial mixing. From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, unable to manage the sprawling, distant colony, Lisbon assigned Mozambique’s governance to the Viceroyalty of Goa, the Indian jewel in the crown of the Portuguese empire. In defiance of every stereotype of colonialism, Africans in Mozambique had a European language imposed on them by administrators who were ethnically Indian. Many of these Portuguese-speaking Indian civil servants or adventurers intermarried with local leaders. In the Zambezi Valley, in central Mozambique, mixed Indo-Portuguese-African elites broke away from government structures to form autonomous settlements known as prazos.

In the nineteenth century, these palisaded outposts fought a sixty-year war of resistance against Portuguese colonial authority, only succumbing to the central government in 1902. Miscegenation between Europeans and Africans was less common in Mozambique than in other Portuguese colonies, such as Angola or the Cape Verde islands, but the roots of Mozambican identity spring from a tradition that assumes everyone descends in part from an outsider.

The frelimo guerrilla movement, which led Mozambique to independence from Portugal in 1975, promoted interracialism and the Portuguese language—at the time spoken by just a sliver of the country’s population—as the keys to building a nation from the more than twenty distinct ethnic and linguistic groups inhabiting the country’s long Indian Ocean coastline. Photographs of early meetings of the new government, in the Museum of the Revolution in downtown Maputo, reveal a sprinkling of white, mixed-race, and South Asian faces among the black majority…

Read the entire article here.

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