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Um trabalho DIVERGENTE

A work by DIVERGENTE

“No one will
understand
that name”

João Séco Mané only found out he was called João on his first day of school. His mother was still pregnant when she received the message from the colonial administration: “As soon as the child is born, your husband must come here to register them.”

Source:

 

“Sarmento Rodrigues, a Guiné e o luso-tropicalismo”, António E. Duarte Silva

 

 

 

He was born on a Wednesday, on 29 January 1948 in Nova Lamego (now the city of Gabu), in eastern Guinea-Bissau. At the time, the first winds of Portuguese development had started to blow across the then colony: roads were being built, bridges erected, and conversations about health, education and sanitation had begun.

As ordered, Bolom Mané went down to the civil registry to announce the birth of his son. He was received by a Portuguese official who, now well-versed in the process, started to complain—“this name won’t do, no one will understand it”—and quickly chose an alternative. João was the name luck bestowed on him; at home he was always just Séco Mané. This was the first of many rules that he would have to follow to be Portuguese.

João Séco Mané

Lance-corporal

 

Portuguese Guinean section

of the African Commandos,
1st Company

“My father told me this story. He told me that the registry stuff started practically at the same time as I was born. Nearly everyone in my generation has a Portuguese name. They got it into our heads that we had to change our name; they chose them, it was forced on us.”

Séco Mané was 15 when the Party for the Independence of Portuguese Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) attacked the Tite barracks in January 1963. This event would go down in history as marking the beginning of the war in Portuguese Guinea. The conflict, which one side called the “War of Independence” and the other called the “Colonial War”, split his life in two. His father was detained in September 1965 by the International Police for State Defence (PIDE) – accused of conniving with the “terrorists”, allowing them to take food from the family vegetable plot; they took him to the island of Galinhas, an open-air prison, where they tortured and beat him. His mother, with four children in tow and another still in the womb, was taken to the bush by the PAIGC guerilla. Some on one side, others on the other, all hostages against their will. Séco Mané and his brother Boquindi Mané were stuck in the middle, forced to join the army. Now military, Boquindi had to be Joaquim. At the time, neither brother imagined that ten years would pass before they saw their mother or siblings again.

João Séco Mané

Lance-corporal

 

Portuguese Guinean section

of the African Commandos,
1st Company

“I should have joined the army in 1967, but so many things made me angry, I didn’t want to… They sent urgent calls for me to speak with them and published my name in that military census book. On 26 August 1970, they called me up for the military inspection: the doctors checked us over, naked as the day we were born and told us to pick some balls which would decide our future troop number. I picked number 590, which is still my number today.”

The indignation that João Séco Mané had not felt when he had his name forced on him was now sown and, as he entered adult life, became impossible to hide.

For the first half of the 20th century, the recruitment of Africans into the Portuguese Armed Forces was an ad hoc affair. However, as many territories began to break free from the European empires, Portugal knew that the same fate could come knocking on their door. It knew that, sooner or later, they would need more men in the army, and so imposed military conscription on the “indigenous”.

In order for Portugal to maintain control, it was necessary that those born in Africa followed the rules of the colonial project. To this end, the Portuguese government passed the Indigenous Statute in 1954. The document divided Guineans, Mozambicans and Angolans between the “non-civilized” and the “civilized” and allowed the latter to obtain Portuguese citizenship as long as they knew how to read and write, had sufficient income to cover the family’s needs and demonstrated good behaviour. http://link

A smoke and mirrors stunt that would keep the majority of black people from gaining citizenship until the end of the Portuguese Dictatorship in 1974. http://link

Source:

 

“African Troops in the Portuguese Colonial Army, 1961-1974:

Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique”, João Paulo Borges Coelho

The mission to colonize

The mission to colonize

The mission to colonize

Sources:

 

“Sarmento Rodrigues, a Guiné e o luso-tropicalismo”, António E. Duarte Silva

 

“O modo português de estar no mundo: o luso-tropicalismo e a ideologia colonial

portuguesa (1933-1961)”, Cláudia Castelo

 

Over the course of the Cold War, a growing wave of international pressure, led by both the Soviet Union and the United States, forced Portugal to grant self-determination to African peoples in the territories it occupied.<