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“They betrayed us,
that’s what”

As a child, lulled by the sound of the birds and the mysteries of the mangroves, Juldé Jaquité and his father used to roam the waters of the Cacine River, in the south of Guinea-Bissau. Together, aboard a wooden canoe, they would catch fish to sell at the market and to feed the whole family. After the “Spínola’s Coup” festivities ended, this childhood was a distant memory to Juldé— a past with no return. In the months following April 1974, he felt lost, tormented by his thoughts. Only cigarettes — one after another — seemed to bring him some peace.


Silence can invade in many forms: a river that flows without challenging the law of nature, the fear of someone holding their breath in hiding, a pent-up rage, accumulating year after year, denied a chance to explode. The army, the war, stole his youth from him. Could it be that, now, this limbo they called “peace” had come to rob him of his adult life too?

In September 1974, Juldé, an imposing man who the Portuguese Army made lance-corporal of the Commandos, left Bissau and fled to Senegal. He left full of uncertainty; he didn’t even really know why he wanted to disappear. He couldn’t get the night his wife’s ex-husband snuck over and knocked on his door to warn him out of his mind. “Juldé, leave Bissau and go to Senegal. I’m telling you this because you’ve been good to my children, I can’t betray you. I know the PAIGC [Party for the Independence of Portuguese Guinea and Cape Verde] will kill all the Commandos, even the commissioned ones. You’ll all die.” Nearly 50 years later, Juldé swears he still remembers the minute details of this meeting:

“I told him I wasn’t going anywhere, that I had no reason to flee. He asked me not to tell anyone what he had told me, or they’d kill him. He got in his jeep and left. I sat down to smoke.”

Joaquim Boquindi Mané



Portuguese Guinean section of the African Commandos, 1st Company

“After the festivities came difficult times. They captured many Commandos, they said we were whites. Anyone who had fought on the whites’ side was punished. They called us colonizers, said that we had boasted about it and that, now, they were in charge. Many people said, ‘Leave us alone, the war is over now. The war made us enemies, but we are brothers now. Leave us alone.’”

On 8 October, the continental Commandos returned to Lisbon. Florindo Morais arrived in Bissau in June to replace Raul Folques as battalion leader. He remembers how, at the time, the African Commandos were still convinced that they would be the future “Colonels of Guinea-Bissau”. VIDEO

They believed the promises made to them, had faith in the hope these words had sown. Faith in a country that they hadn’t chosen, but for which they had sworn to die if necessary. The same country that now was preparing to leave them behind, abandoned to their fate, lost.

They refused to believe that the promises made by General Spínola — “the African Commandos will be the future leaders of Portuguese Guinea”, “Guinea for Guineans” — were nothing but empty words.



“Spínola”, Luís Nuno Rodrigues


“Fim do Império – últimos meses de vida do Batalhão de Comandos da Guiné”, Florindo Morais, Mama Sume Magazine, n.º83