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Race Relations in Mozambique
J. L. Ribeiro Torres

INTRODUCTION area where I have been studying race relations


A considerable amount has been written during periodic visits over the last eight years.
during the last two decades about race rela- The approach adopted in this paper is,
tions in Brazil, in Portugal's African territories broadly speaking, the ethnomethodological ap-
and her other overseas possessions. Two proach as outlined by Alfred Schutz in his two
schools of thought have emerged: the one sub- essays 'Common-sense and Scientific Interpre-
tation of Human Action' and 'Concept and
scribing to the view that the Portuguese in their Theory Formation in the Social Sciences.'1
relations with peoples of colour, have adopted Thus, for me in my observations, it has been
what could be called, roughly, a non-racial important to know and understand the socio-
approach; the other school maintains that the cultural environment in which these social re-
Portuguese were, and are, even worse racialists lations take place as well as the meaning that
than other Western European colonialists. the actors themselves attach to their actions. In
To the former belong Brazilians like Gil- other words, it is both as actor and observer
berto Freyre, Portuguese like Jorge Dias, that my study has been carried out. My quali-
Americans and Englishmen like Abshire, fications for so doing are that 1 am of mixed
Samuels, Egerton and Welch, To the latter, ethno-cultural origin; Portuguese and English
amongst the most prominent are Basil David- were my 'home languages', and I have no diffi-
son, C. R. Boxer, Marvin Harris, Duffy, Chil- culty in playing the role of a typical English-
cote, Easton, the late Eduardo Mondlanc, speaking South African, or of a typical Portu-
Amilcar Cabral and other leaders of anti- guese from Portugal or from Mozambique.
Portuguese guerilla forces in Guinea, Angola It has taken no great talent nor any particular
and Mozambique. insight to be well aware of the fundamental
In the following paper I shall try to main- differences that separate what Schutz calls 'the
tain a balance between these two extremes; 'common-sense constructs of the reality of daily
while presenting at first the official Portuguese life' as they appear to a Portuguese and to an
view of race relations I shall also try to relate Englishman.
this to what I have actually observed at first
hand in Portugal, Angola and Mozambique. PORTUGUESE COLONIALISM
Particular emphasis, however, will be placed on Most Portuguese are genuinely shocked and
race relations in Mozambique since this is the puzzled when they are accused in the United

39
Nations by spokesmen of the O.A.U. and only has to move from Durban or Johannes-
various political leaders of Black Africa of burg to Lourenco Marques or Beira for a few
being racists. Colonialists, maybe, but racists, days to realise that race relations in South
never! That is the general view. A number of Africa and Mocambique are very different. The
British and American academics have also question is, how different? And how can these
expressed the view that the Portuguese are just differences be discussed in the light of modern
as racially prejudiced as any other Europeans, theories of race relations?
only somehow they seem to be able to dis- It is a generally accepted proposition that
guise their prejudices or express them in a more a colonial situation produces a colour line, that
subtle way than other peoples. is, a division between colonizer and colonized
But before attempting to deal with race re- that invariably places the colonized in a sub-
lations in a specific area, it would be advisable ordinate position. It is generally assumed by
to point out that this problem can be examined Anglo-Saxon (British and American) as well
in different ways, historically, psychologically, as French sociologists and Africanists, that this
and sociologically. There is also the scientific colonial situation and its colour line must
study of races from the genetic, physical an- inevitably lead to conflict between colonizers
thropological and biological point of view; but and colonized. Therefore, multi-racial societies
as we are only concerned with the relations must perforce be plural societies, and in times
between people of different races within the of crisis they consist of groups with no real
context of socio-economic situations, the de- bonds between them which must, under strain,
tailed morphological characteristics of differ- disintegrate into their component ethnic parts.
ent human beings will not concern us, except The Portuguese do not subscribe to this
incidentally. view. They still believe that a colonial situation
While it is patently absurd for the Portu- can, given the right circumstances, develop into
guese to claim that race prejudice of any kind a multiracial integrated society under the um-
or form can never be found among them, it brella of a commonly shared cultural and reli-
is equally absurd to accuse the governments of gious tradition. This, they point out, is what
Portugal and her overseas provinces of Angola, happened in Brazil after the abolition of
Guinea and Mocambique of being 'racist' re- slavery, and this they maintain is what their
gimes in the same way as the Republic of policies are designed to bring about in Angola
South Africa admits to being. By racist I mean and Mocambique. According to the late Dr
that the racial differences of various com- Salazar:
munities are taken into account in granting These contacts [with coloured peoples]
political rights and social status and economic . . . have never involved the slightest idea
privileges within a particular society. of superiority or racial discrimination
There has never been any formal legal . . . I think I can say that the distinguish-
discrimination against black people in Portu- ing feature of Portuguese Africa — not-
guese Africa, such as has existed in nearly all withstanding the concentrated efforts
British colonies and in South Africa. That is made in many quarters to attack it by
not to say that differential treatment was word as well as action — is the primacy
not meted out to Africans when a formal dis- which we have always attached and will
tinction was made between subjects and citizens always continue to attach to the en-
under the 'Estatuto dos Indigenas'2 but, for hancement of the value and of the dig-
example, all government schools in these ter- nity of man without distinction of
ritories have always been integrated, despite colour or creed, in the light of the prin-
all claims to the contrary by some critics of ciples of the civilization we carried to
the Portuguese. There are no separate entrances the peoples who were in every way dis-
for Whites or Blacks to public buildings, no tant from ourselves.3
special benches for Whites, all public transport Similarly, in the preamble to a decree
is integrated, as are all places of entertainment, abolishing the special Statute for the Natives
benches, parks and public conveniences. of Angola, Guinea and Mocambique, we find
There are no official prohibitions against the following statement:
marriage or extra-marital sex between White The heterogeneous composition of the
and Black such as exist in South Africa. One Portuguese people, their traditional

40
community and patriarchal structure, fest certain common characteristics
and the Christian ideal of brotherhood which may be termed the universal
which was always the base of our over- traits of colonialism. The only marked
seas expansion early defined our reaction instance of deviation from the general
to other societies and cultures and pattern is the Philippines, for here,
stamped it from the beginning, with a during the forty odd years of American
marked respect for the manners and control, a rapid evolution away from
customs of the people we encountered.4 colonial status has occurred . . .
While agreeing with Boxer that 'the truth The first of the universal traits of colo-
was more complex, and that race relations in nialism is the colour line. In every de-
the old Portuguese colonial empire did not pendent territory a true caste division
invariably present such a picture of harmonious exists, with the resident white popula-
integration as the foregoing quotations would tion separated from the native masses by
imply',5 there still remains the problem of ac- a social barrier that is virtually impass-
counting for the fundamentally different at- able. The colour line, indeed, is the
titudes towards people of colour manifested by foundation of the entire colonial system,
the Portuguese and Spaniards in Africa, Asia for on it is built the whole social, econo-
and the Americas, as compared to those dis- mic and political structure. All the rela-
played by Englishmen and other Western tionships between the racial groups are
Europeans in these areas. those of super-ordination and sub-
It must be remembered that race attitudes ordination, of superiority and inferior-
and race relations are not static phenomena; ity. There is no mistaking this pattern
attitudes and behaviour patterns change both for one of mere segregation, or separa-
in time and space, and it is quite ridiculous to tion with equality. The colour line is
expect to find, as Boxer obviously does, a rigid horizontal, so to speak, and cuts across
adherence of precept to practice in such a every colonial society in such a way as
complex field of human relations. For example, to leave the natives in the lower stratum
significant differences have occured in the and the whites in the upper.
evolution of race relations in Angola and Even in the case of the one non-white
Mocambique. The background from which the imperialistic power, Japan, the represen-
majority of Angolan settlers have been drawn tatives of the ruling nation occupy an
has contributed to these differences; the fact upper-caste position, which is supported
that the majority of Whites in Mocambique by a concept of racial superiority, al-
until the 1950s were either oflicials or could though for practical purposes the Japan-
be classed as a type of remittance man from the ese have played up solidarity of the
upper classes, is also important. Then there has darker races against white domination.
been the proximity of South Africa and Rho- Throughout the colonies, we find a
desia to Mocambique which has strongly in- system of group discrimination and
fluenced the local people and made them far subordination, and natives are judged
more race conscious than their Angolan coun- and treated, not on the basis of indivi-
terparts. Despite this, however, consciousness dual worth or ability, but as members
of skin colour as an important differentiating of an undifferentiated group. Although
factor in human relations is only to be found other elements are involved, the heart
among certain groups of Portuguese in Mocam- of the colonial problem is the native
bique. It has never become part of official problem, and the native problem is a
government policy, racial or caste problem.5
Raymond Kennedy in the 'Colonial Crisis Kennedy lists four other traits that are worth
and the Future* says: mentioning:
While social, economic and political con- Political control by the possessing power,
ditions vary in the colonies of the differ- leaving the natives little or no share in
ent powers, and even between the the government of their homelands.
colonies of the same emp're in most Economic dependence upon and control
cases, and although there are variations by the mother country.
in policies, all the dependent areas mani- The lack of social contacts between

41
natives and the ruling caste. make others suffer and he avoids con-
A very low stage of development of flicts, but when ill-treated and hurt in
social services, especially education. his pride he may become violent and
There is no doubt that Kennedy's neat even cruel . . . The Portuguese have
little model of colonialism fits all colonial an enormous capacity to adapt them-
situations, but his first characteristic, the colour selves to all situations, beings and ideas,
line does not apply fully to the situation in without this meaning, however, any
Portuguese Africa. In fact, it was on reading lessening of their character. It was this
this article in 1946, that my interest in the feature that permitted them to main-
subject was aroused and I have tried ever since tain always that attitude of tolerance
to come to grips with the reasons for the which gave the Portuguese colonization
marked difference in race attitudes of the a special and unmistakable aspect:
Portuguese when contrasted with those of assimilation by adaptation . . . The Por-
Englishmen, Belgians or even Italians and tuguese, led by healthy instinct mixed
Frenchmen. with the various populations of the
world and contributed highly to racial
RACIAL CONSCIOUSNESS fusion. It was from the free exercise of
The Portuguese are of very mixed ethnic this impulse that leads him to consider
origin. This is something that all critics of the men as his equals and makes him love
Portuguese agree upon. It is my considered women of all colours that was born the
opinion, based on first hand observation over great Brazilian nation which surprises
a number of years, that this fact has helped the world by its unique harmony of
to a considerable extent to lower amongst most human living. A similar miracle occurs
Portuguese, the consciousness of colour as an in some overseas provinces and is on the
important differentiating factor in human re- verge of taking place in others. That
lations. Although class distinctions are much which we did, led by our natural ten-
clearer in Portuguese society than they are in dencies and impelled by our hearts, that
South Africa or Rhodesia, for example, a caste many criticised, and still do, is now-
situation has never developed in any Portu- adays being justified by science.7
guese dominated territory. There is ample his- It is rather ironical that the Portuguese,
torical evidence that numbers of the indigenous who, for the last 150 years have been pilloried
peoples, be they Africans, Mulattos, Moors, in the writings of many English and German
Chinese, South American Indians, or what travellers and historians for their lack of 'racial
Americans call East Indians, have, from the pride', in mingling their blood so freely with
earliest days of contact, right up to the present that of so-called 'lower coloured races' such as
time, been accepted as equals and assimilated Africans, Indians and heathen 'chinee', are
into all levels of Portuguese society. Admittedly now being accused of not having mingled
they may only represent a fraction of the total enough, and of being not only culturally
of so-called coloured people under Portuguese arrogant but racists as well! Some of their
rule, but one of the characteristics of Portu- critics still believe that the Portuguese have
guese and Spanish, and thus Iberian culture, is no real claim to call themselves 'Europeans'
its emphasis on individual relations and its but are in fact a 'coloured race'. The decline
neglect of the group as a social phenomenon. and fall of their Eastern Empire and their eco-
This comes out very clearly in the novels of nomic backwardness have often been attributed
Eca de Queiroz, Vicente Blasco Ibaficz, the by Portuguese, as well as foreign historians,
Brazilians Machado de Assis and George to a kind of national degeneration which they
Amado, and the essays of Jose Ortega y Gasset regard as being a natural consequence of un-
and Miguel de Unanamo. bridled miscegenation!
The anthropologist, Jorge Dias, in an article Portuguese relations with other races pre-
on the Portuguese character makes the follow- sent us with a complex and a confusing picture.
ing points: Historically, they can best be studied as they
The Portuguese man is, above all, pro- developed in Brazil. Philip Mason, in his am-
foundly humane and kind-hearted with- bitious work, Patterns of Dominance, describes
out being weak. He does not like to the two different approaches to race relations

42
in Brazil, represented by Gilberto Freyre on burdens of Empire; men like these could not
the one hand, and Marvin Harris, Charles possibly be a prey to the same ungovernable
Wagley and Pierre van der Berghe on the lusts as dagoes and foreigners. But the Portu-
other. It would appear that more recent re- guese, although they also turn a blind eye to
searches indicate the presence of an increas- many aspects of social reality, that is, the way
ing degree of racial tension and racial people actually behave in contrast to how they
awareness, particularly in the State of Sao are supposed to, or imagine themselves to be-
Paulo and the more industrialized areas of have, have a different approach. For example,
Brazil. These later findings have been taken only recently a magazine published in Lourenco
as positive proof of the inaccuracy of Freyre's Marques suggested that the house where Mou-
interpretation of Brazilian society. I am con- zinho de Albuquerque, a national hero, lived
vinced, however, that much of the criticism of with his coloured girl friend when he was High
Freyre's work is based on a misunderstanding Commissioner for Mozambique, should be
of his aims and his methodology. Now that preserved as a national monument. Not ironic-
Parts II and III of his major work, Sobrados e ally, with the intention of embarrassing his
Mucambos and Ordem e Progress'o, are avail- descendants or tarnishing his reputation, as
able in English, a reading of the Introduction would be the case if Mouzinho had been a
to Sobrados e Mucambos' (which could be trans- South African, an Englishman, an American,
lated as 'Town House and Slum') would clear or a Rhodesian, but in all seriousness since
up many misunderstandings. this episode in Mouzinho's life is an integral
Gilberto Freyre never expected his inter- part of the history of Lourenco Marques and
pretation of the formation of Brazilian society citizens of this city like to know, and are en-
to be accepted as the last word on the subject. titled to know, what happened in the early days.
Neither did he claim that it would be valid In other words, I suggest that this difference
for all parts of Brazil. Regional differences in attitude reflects the fundamental difference
are so marked in climate, ethnic composition between Anglo-Saxons and Portuguese in their
and economic development that this would view of the individual and his role in society.
be impossible. My own first impression on The Anglo-Saxon has always felt that a leader's
reading 'The Masters and the Slaves', which private life was intimately bound up with,
should, of course, have been translated as and reflected on, his public performance and
'Plantation Home and Slave Quarters', was reputation. The fall from grace of Parnell be-
that this kind of study should be made of other cause of his 'immoral' life, the obscurity of
areas where plantation slavery had existed, such Veblen, for his 'irregular' sex life, are two
as the American Deep South, the Caribbean examples that spring to mind, not to mention
and even South Africa where race has others such as Oscar Wilde and Profumo.
become such an important factor in human Portuguese society does not have this view.
relations. Unfortunately, it would be impossible A very clear distinction has always been made
to make such a study in those areas, except between a man's role as a public figure and
possibly the West Indies. I can just imagine as a private individual. His private frailties are
the furore that such a study would arouse in not held to detract from his public reputation.
South Africa or the U.S.A. The author would Thus, it was possible for a President of Portu-
inevitably be tarred and feathered, possibly gal to live for most of his life 'in sin', as it were,
even lynched, and he could look forward to with his female servant, and for her to join
a few petrol bombs being thrown through his his legitimate widow in mourning at his grave-
windows, and his wife and children being side. Everyone knew this, but I never heard
threatened or even assaulted, in true indivi- anyone suggest that for this reason he should
dualistic democratic style. resign as unfit to hold such high public oilice.
Yet Freyre mentions names of prominent I could not imagine such a situation being
Brazilians and their families who had slave openly tolerated in Britain or South Africa,
ancestry; he gives genealogical details that even in these days of the 'permissive society'.
would be suppressed in any English-speaking It would not surprise me to discover that
country, for obvious reasons. Most English- many Brazilian and foreign critics of Gilberto
men like to think of their ancestors having Freyre never bothered to read his work pro-
led pure celibate lives while shouldering the perly. In his first volume, he spares neither the

43
'masters nor the slaves', nor the Indians. He the 1920s, employees in Southern Mozambique
describes them all in the round, with all their were paid in sterling, as the escudo, after a
virtues and their vices. The Portuguese settlers disastrous devaluation shortly after the first
and pioneers, in particular, are described with World War, was held to have no value and
no atom of sentimentality. would only be accepted as legal tender under
In his chapter on the Portuguese, Gilberto duress. It is not surprising, therefore, that many
Freyre makes the point, that is repeated in a Portuguese developed an outsized inferiority
somewhat sentimental and idealized way in the complex vis-a-vis their neighbours. Dr
passage quoted from Jorge Dias, that is, that Salazar's government put pressure on local
the Portuguese are very flexible and adaptable firms to employ more Portuguese and foreign
in their person to person relations with other investment was deliberately discouraged. Be ra
peoples. They are seldom prone to xenophobia; had become almost an extension of British
on the contrary, they are far too easily im- Central Africa, and only in Lourengo Marques
pressed by the supposed virtues of other and in the outlying districts were the Portu-
peoples, and it is one of their greatest guese to be found in their own home, so to
weaknesses that they all too often try to copy speak. It is not to be wondered at, therefore,
others, and uncritically adopt ideas and that many Portuguese did their best to emulate
attitudes that are either inferior to their own the attitudes of their economic masters. Also,
cultural traditions, or are totally incompatible it is not surprising that Lisbon viewed with
with them. Examples of this can be found in disfavour this process of 'de-nationalization' as
the introduction in 1929 of the 'Estatuto dos they called it, that was taking place in their
Indigenas da Guine, Angola, Mozambique e East African possession.
Timor', modelled on the French colonial sys- Right up to the middle of the 1950s most
tem of the idigenal. 'white' Portuguese were either in government
In some of his other essays, Freyre has service or lived in Lourenco Marques. The
also suggested that when the Portuguese have hinterland was inhabited by few Portuguese
remained true to their easy-going traditions, and practically all trade was in the hands of
they have created relatively stable and harmo- Chinese and Indians, Settlers from Portugal
nious multiracial communities, but they have were debarred from entering the territory unless
failed miserably when they have tried to they had guaranteed employment, or consider-
emulate the 'efficiency' of the British, the able cash in the bank. Mozambique was
French or the Germans. regarded, until fairly recently, as unfit for
European settlers, and was essentially a planta-
MOCAMBIQUE tion colony like Malaya and British West
The evolution of race relations in Mocam- Africa. This, despite the fact that Antonio
bique illustrates this point very well. Many Ennes, writing in 1891, had this to say about
of the Whites born and brought up in the Portuguese as immigrants to the tropics:
Mozambique or who have spent most of Physically our peasants will be able to
their working lives in the territory, have resist Africa's climate better than north-
been strongly influenced by the racism of their erners, particularly if they acquire habits
South African and Rhodesian neighbours. In of cleanliness and hygiene. This will pro-
earlier days, from the last decade of the nine- bably be the only asset they will have
teenth century right up to the decade before the to withstand the hard struggle for life
last war, English influence predominated. Most that will await them. In such a terrible
commercial enterprises and financial institutions struggle, only those will not fall by the
were British, run and staffed by Britons. It was wayside, who have, in their character,
only as late as the 1960s that a well-known unbreakable and tenacious energy,
petrol company appointed a Portuguese backed up by practical abilities that
manager; Barclay's Bank still had a British can make up for the total lack of
manager in 1964. Considerable areas of means of action and protection, such as
Mozambique were at one time ceded to civilized societies grant to individuals
chartered companies, which though nominally Jiving within their own institutions. The
Portuguese, were financed and staffed by pioneer of new countries, no matter to
Britons, South Africans and Rhodesians. In what kind of work he applies himself,

44
must be self-sufficient: he must get from situation. It is particularly with adven-
his isolated activity sufficient reward to turers that the virgin countries are
satisfy all his needs, and, he must be settled, especially as today, the migration
able to look after himself. Now, our of peoples from Europe for political
national character, such as it is, has been and religious reasons has ceased, and if
formed during the last centuries by the the English have potential colonists as
social and moral forces that have been no other people have, it is most be-
charged with shaping it, and has shown cause Britain sheds throughout the
itself to be singularly wanting in indivi- world, multitudes hardened in a tough
dual enterprise, either through shyness, school of life who are prepared to
or because it is not there. What we least risk everything because they have no-
know, is how to live only with ourselves, thing to lose, and who gamble with life
for ourselves. I must point out the fact itself for a bare living. It is that Bohe-
that the Portuguese immigrant in other mian crew that supplies the Chartered
countries rarely seeks out a field of ac- Company with police, sends settlers to
tion that is free and independent, or quarter the land under the protection of
work on his own account that carries the forts at Salisbury and Victoria, and
with it great opportunities for success that covers the Mutare Valley with
or failure. He does not look for an oc- miners. If, in order to colonize or
cupation that will grant him the chance occupy the Countries of the Mashonas
to expand his own individuality. He and the Matabeles, it were necessary to
prefers a subordinate position to the recruit people from the villages of York-
risks and dangers of independence, and shire and Northumberland, as it is sug-
tends to follow well-trodden paths: thus gested that we should get colonists from
he subjects himself to a wage for fear the meadows of Bcira and the Alemtejo
of uncertainty and goes to meet his boss to settle Mocambique, the attempts to do
already conscious of the fact that he so would inevitably fail, or if they did
cannot look after himself. These are all not do so completely, they would only
the symptoms of his limited capacity for be able to get immigrants who would not
great colonial enterprises. If by chance, be able to display the qualities required
he finds himself left to his own devices, of them by the promoters of the ex-
he begins to clamour for the State to pansion of the British race in Central
protect him, to defend him, keep him, Africa , . . 8
and even teach him how to live, and if
the State does not put him on her knee, Antonio Ennes was quite right in his
more often than not, he succumbs be- assessment of the Portuguese peasant as a
cause he really is not fit or trained to pioneer settler. Such people would only be
face up to the adventures he has em- settled in large numbers on the land, in properly
barked on . . . organized and heavily subsidised schemes,
which v/ere quite unheard of in the nineteenth
Antonio Ennes goes on to speak of the English century. On the other hand, the type of settler
settler: he so much admired, the 'lumpenproletariat*
The pioneers that civilization calls on, of Britain's industrial revolution, the remittance
to take possession of the new worlds men and other outcasts from middle-class
and tame them, are not recruited from respectability, have created an insoluble pro-
the ranks of the prudent middle-classes blem of race relations in Central and South
nor from among the peaceful and timid Africa, as we all know to our cost. These two
rural populations; they usually come passages arc interesting because they illustrate
from the masses of the rootless and the the point I was making earlier about the pro-
classless sections of the population, in- pensity of the Portuguese to be influenced by
dividuals who have been subjected by other peoples. It also explains to some extent
the need to keep alive, to take up any why it took the Portuguese so long to realise
profession, to do all kinds of work; these that these much despised peasants were not,
are the people who can face up to any in fact, quite as helpless or as useless as Ennes
danger and adapt themselves to any and his contemporaries supposed them to be.

45
Opposition to opening the doors to peasant expressed by Englishmen and Americans.
settlers from Portugal was strong amongst the The fact is, Portuguese attitudes to mis-
small 'white community' in Mozambique for a cegenation vary greatly among different classes
number of reasons. In contrast to Angola, of people, though in general they tend to dis-
where numbers of such settlers had been al- play greater tolerance of its consequences than
lowed into the territory even before the turn other peoples. In the past, it was accepted as
of the century, albeit in very small numbers, and inevitable by the Portuguese, that white men
although Mozambique during the nineteenth in the Tropics would have African, Indian or
century had been the dumping ground for Chinese mistresses, and in some cases that it
convicts and many political malcontents, the would also be natural for a number of these
local white inhabitants prided themselves on men to marry their mistresses. But even where
being a cut above the average. The thought of matrimony did not set the seal of legality on
having a large 'poor white community' was too the conjugal relationship, when children were
much, since it would cause their wealthy neigh- born, particularly sons, it was very common
bours to despise them even more. Even today, for the proud fathers to recognise these children.
many Portuguese in Mozambique deplore the Thus it happened, that even as late as the early
fact that most of their countrymen who im- 1930s, quite a number of Portuguese returned
migrate to South Africa are illiterate peasants to Lisbon or Oporto accompanied by their
or unskilled labourers from the Island of mulatto children. They frequently married a
Madeira. Most of them run cafes or become white girl and would expect her, as a matter
market gardeners. It has always amused me of course, to be willing to accept these children
to find that it comes as a great surprise to as her own. I can well remember families in
many South Africans to discover that not all which half-brothers and sisters of different
Portuguese are illiterate or manual workers. colours all lived together under the same roof.
For many reasons, not least their Catholicism, There has always been a chronic shortage of
the Portuguese are not really welcome in South white women in the Tropics, and before the end
Africa as immigrants. of the last war, few Portuguese women were
willing to face the hardships of living in tropical
MISCEGENATION Africa. This was particularly so in Mozam-
bique, but was not so in Angola, where, in
An aspect of race relations that illustrates
Mossamedes, Lobito, Benguela and Sa da Ban-
the wide gulf that separates the Portuguese
deira, fairly large white communities were
'commonsense view of social reality' from that
settled from the turn of the century. Today,
of Englishmen or South Africans is the pheno-
modern methods of controlling tropical dis-
menon that in English is called 'miscegenation'
eases, air-condition'ng, refrigerators and other
and in Portuguese 'mesticagem', James Duffy
aids to modern living, have greatly abated the
refers disparagingly to the Portuguese tolerance
horror of life in the Tropics.
of, or propensity to, miscegenation, as follows:
In a strict sense inestigagem never be- There has been a decline in the number of
came a colonial policy, but it was a mixed marriages and other permanent, or semi-
reality to which Portuguese statesmen permanent, conjugal relationships between
found it convenient to give a moral white and black have decreased considerably
dignity and egalitarian significance.9 during the last two decades. There are still
While it is true that miscegenation as a many more Portuguese men than women in
conscious policy was probably never carried out Mozambique and the official policy today is
systematically by any Portuguese government to encourage mixed marriages. Does the ab-
throughout the colonial empire, since it is an sence of any legal impediments to inter-racial
inevitable consequence flowing from the meet- marriage mean that a great number of such
ing of peoples, it was surely sensible to accept marriages is taking place? The latest statistics
the fact that they will mix, and to try and available to me showed that in 1963 only 117
grant to this process some moral dignity, rather m:xed marriages took place in Mozambique.
than to pretend that it never occurred, as is so But statistics of this kind are of little use be-
often done in South Africa, or if it did, then cause the Concordat between the Portuguese
to say that it only took place among 'moral government and the Vatican has made it vir-
degenerates', a rationalisation very commonly tually impossible for Catholics married in

46
church to obtain a divorce. Thus many inter- legislation, but also that they should
racial conjugal relationships may be prevented fulfil progressively their moral and legal
from becoming marriages because one of the duties to work, to become educated and
parties may already be canonically married to to improve themselves with every
another. guarantee of liberty and justice. The
I do not doubt for a moment, that inter- second idea, which is, of necessity, in-
racial sexual relations are as common in spired by the same basic doctrine, is to
Mocambique as they were elsewhere in colonial bring about all desirable improvements
Africa, but the assumption by some English within the framework of their rudiment-
and American writers that Anglo-Saxons were ary civilization, so that the transforma-
less prone to fornicating across the colour line, tion of their customs and habits, and
is a perfect example of ethnocentric delusion. their own improvement will take place
For example, some time ago an investigation gradually and gently, as will their
was carried out in one of South Africa's major gradual integration into the body poli-
cities showing that African prostitutes were tic of the colony, which is the extension
able to get six times more white male customers of the motherland. Such a system, which
than their white sisters, and this, in spite of is just, practical and efficient, implies
the savage penal lies incurred by anyone caught respect for these laws and customs, as
by the police in terms of the infamous Im- long as they do not go against individual
morality Act. Swaziland has recently passed an rights of freedom and life, the principles
immorality act of sorts to prevent South Afri- of humanity and the sovereignty of
can and other whites from corrupting innocent Portugal.
Swazi girls. In all other ex-colonial areas of the This Decree (originally No. 12:533 of 23
world, the Whites have left behind them a October, 1926) was drafted before the advent
numerous coloured progeny who have become of the Salazar regime to power. Rightly, It
'a problem'. But nowhere, except possibly in belongs to the Republican era but was not im-
some of France's West African Colonies, was plemented before 1929. Criticising this measure.
it possible for such coloureds, to use the com- Lord Hailey quite correctly remarked, that
mon term applied in South Africa, to be as 'Insistence on a cultural qualification can in
easily accepted socially as has always been the practice create a more restrictive barrier than
case, and still is, in Portugal and her overseas that of colour'.10
territories. The abolition of the Estatuto in 1961" has
removed the only legal restrictive barrier on
CULTURAL QUALIFICATIONS Africans, since all, black or white, tribaliscd,
No discussion of race relations in Mocam- or detribalised, are now citizens by birth. But
bique must omit to examine the effects that full rights of citizenship arc only enjoyed by
the 'Estatuto Civil e Criminal dos Indigenas de those who are enfranchised, and Portugal's
Angola c Mocambique' of .1929,z as amended, qualified voting system excludes not only the
has had on these relations. This law was re- majority of the non-westernised Africans but
pealed in 1961, but from 1929 to 1961 Afri- also a large number of Whites. Duffy has some
cans under Portuguese rule suffered from con- pertinent criticisms to make of this Decree:
siderable disabilities under this law. It was In stressing the traditional Portuguese
inspired by the French system of the indigenat sentiments of racial equality and at the
and is another example of an unfortunate, same time devising a policy founded on
borrowing in the name of efficiency and pro- theories of cultural inequality, the Por-
gress. The preamble to this decree explains tuguese Government was walking on a
its aims: conceptual tightrope . . . A system as
The new law is inspired by two basic selective as assimilation, which in a
ideas. The first is to ensure not only period of twenty-five years has affected
that 'natives' whose guidance has been the legal status of one half per cent of
entrusted to us enjoy the natural and the African population, has little to
unconditional rights that arc equal recommend it as an instrument of native
to those of Europeans, and which have policy . . . unless the purpose of that
been established in Portuguese colonial policy is to maintain the degraded status

47
of the greatest part of the population.12 of race. Few Africans in Mozambique could
As a Portuguese I can quite categorically state compete on equal terms with Whites, Indians
that this was not the intention of the framers and Chinese in the labour market, mainly be-
of this Decree; there was no intention of main- cause they lacked the manual and technical
taining the majority of Africans in a per- skills that were sadly lacking in their own
manent state of degradation, but it is true that traditional background.
a number of employers, in particular, and some The employer who had to choose between
Portuguese, found this law to be a convenient a keen but less experienced, or even able,
way of exploiting Africans. African artisan, and an experienced, and
The educational and other requirements possibly more efficient, white, Indian, Chinese
demanded of Africans by the Estatuto if they or Mulatto tradesman or clerk, obviously opted
wished to become 'assimilados', that is full for the latter. Africans who had the status of
Portuguese citizens, were not so high as to 'indigenas' could earn fairly good wages in
account for the very small proportion of them various skilled and semi-skilled occupations
that availed themselves of this privilege. The such as drivers, carpenters or bricklayers, but
question to be asked at this stage is, why because they did not belong to labour syndic-
was the status of 'assimilado' so unattractive ates, they were paid according to their indivi-
to the many thousands of Africans, who, even dual worth. Once they became citizens, standard
in 1950 must have been able to become citizens, rates of pay were rigidly applied. In the case
had they been willing to do so? Since 'indigenas' of lorry drivers, for example, a well paid and
according to all accounts, lived in a state of responsible job in Angola and Mozambique,
'degradation', obviously there must have been as an 'indigena' an African could earn R40.00
very good reasons for these unfortunates to or more per month, but if he became an 'assimi-
turn their backs on what were possibly minor, lado' the basic wage was double that amount.
but nonetheless still significant improvements Very often he was only qualified as a driver,
in their status. The number of 4 349 'assimi- and so his employer might fire him and em-
lados' shown in the Census of 1950 does not ploy an Indian, a Chinese, a White or a Mulatto
reflect the total number of 'assimilados' in who could not only drive but also undertake
Mozambique, because this figure only refers ail running repairs. It came as a surprise to
to first generation 'indigenas' who have become me that labour syndicates, which correspond
'assimilados'. The others are automatically to our trade unions, because they are recognised
classified as 'non-natives' by birth, as can be by the courts, can exercise so strong a pressure
clearly seen in Adriano Moreira's article.13 on employers.
But even if their number then was really The admirable egalitarian principle of 'equal
30 000 (a figure that Duffy considers to be too pay for equal work', whether applied to women
optimistic)14 this still represents only a minute or to people of different races or colours, is
fraction of the total African population which one to which most of us would give our un-
was at that time six millions in round figures. qualified support. Unfortunately however, as
we have seen in South Africa, in practice it has
LABOUR acted in a discriminatory way against Africans.
It was only when I started my fieldwork The major breakthrough of Africans into the
on race relations in Mozambique in 1964 that ranks of skilled building artisans only took
I was able to discover some of the more im- place in 1951 with the passing of the Native
portant factors that contributed to the failure Building Workers Act No. 27 of the same
of this law to achieve its stated ideal aims. year. This measure provided for the training
Some of these were the heavier taxes paid by and employment of Africans at differential
citizens, the requirement of monogamy and rates of pay, considerably below those paid
Christianity (the latter only implied), as well to white workers, as bricklayers, plasterers,
as the onerous bureaucratic procedures carpenters and eventually building contractors,
attached to the process of becom'ng a citizen, theoretically to be employed exclusively in the
which helped to deter a considerable number. consiruction of African urban townships around
But by far the most important I found to be South Africa's larger cities. In practice, the
the insistence on equal pay for equal work that African has almost ousted the White from the
applies to all Portuguese citizens, regardless building industry, and much of the skilled

48
and semi-skilled work carried out in building guese Colonial Service, it is natural that his
operations in many parts of the country is, in report should be regarded as the most authorita-
fact, performed by Africans, though a number tive source of information on this subject. My
of white artisans are employed wherever own observations in the field in Angola, but
possible to give the appearance that the law much more extensively and in much more de-
is not being contravened. There is no doubt tail in Mozambique over the last eight years,
that if the law were to be changed, these Afri- have convinced me that though some of his
can artisans could easily offset the critical criticisms are true enough, taken as a whole
shortage of skilled white artisans in the build- they convey a totally false picture of the situa-
ing industry that has sent their wages rocketing tion as it was then.
and has made building costs almost prohibitive. Captain Galvao claimed, for example, that
But it has taken just under twenty years for 'Clandestine emigration was exhausting at an
this level to be reached, despite every oppor- increasing pace the population of Guinea,
tunity to progress. Mocambique and Angola.' Population statis-
This shows, not that the African is in- tics for Angola and Mocambique, which I can
herently inferior to the White, but that the assure you are as accurate as any available
retarding effect of early cultural conditioning for any territory in Africa, show quite clearly
is greater than most of us think. I should that there has been a steady overall increase
not really have been surprised that despite of the total population. The coastal regions
the lack of any kind of job reservation legis- of Southern Mocambique, for example, are
lation, only relatively few Africans were running the grave risk of becoming over-
able to compete on the open market with populated due to the high birthrate, which is
Whites and others whose cultural background higher than the average for the whole African
was closer to Western technology than tradi- continent. Thus, Captain Galvao's 'conserva-
tional African society. After all, in British tive' estimate that 'the three colonies had lost
East Africa, in colonial times, Africans made one million natives by emigration in the pre-
relatively slower progress as artisans, clerks
ceding ten years' is clearly a gross exaggeration.
and traders than that achieved by West Afri-
cans. This could be directly attributed to the According to the most recent figures given in
presence of large Indian communities who were the statistical year book for 1968, some"l50 000
able to supply the labour markets in those officially recruited as well as 'clandestine*
territories with a steady stream of such qualified migrant African workers are being employed
people. It is interesting to note than in Natal outside the territory in the Republic of South
where most Whites arc more antagonistic to- Africa. Since the majority of them return to
wards the Indian than towards the Zulu, when Mocambique after one or two years* absence,
they wish to have some skilled or semi-skilled this would account for the steady improvement
work, most of them would automatically seek in the average birthrate for the Southern Save
the services of an Indian rather than that of Districts, whence most of these migrant workers
an African, come.15
Labour conditions in the Portuguese Afri- Compulsory labour, as experience in Africa
can territories have been subjected to the and elsewhere has shown quite conclusively, is,
major barrage of international criticism against in the long run, both expensive and inefficient
Portuguese policy in general, and arc often labour, and Galvao is on much surer ground
quoted as proof of Portuguese racism. Apart when he castigates the Portuguese for clinging
from the regular statements from the United so long to the mistaken idea that shortages
Nations Committee on Colonialism, the main of unskilled labour could ever be cured by any
sources are to be found in the works of Duffy, form of compulsion or a legally entrenched
Marvin Harris, Basil Davidson and Ferreira. 'obligation to work'. There is only one sure
It has been interesting for me to discover that way of attracting labour, and that is by paying
most of the criticisms are based on an original well, and when the bulk of such labour is
report made by the late Captain Galvao and tribalised, by creating the need for consumer
published in the Observer of 29 January, 1961. soods that have to be purchased for cash. There
Since Captain Galvao was, at the time he is another way, too, that has been practised
compiled his report, an Inspector in the Portu- in other parts of Africa: to impose a poll tax

49
payable in cash, and/or to push a large pro- Province to satisfy their need for cash.
portion of Africans off the land so that the Agriculture cannot be considered to be,
only alternative to starvation will be to seek in the southern districts, an economic
wage employment. There is no shortage of land factor worthy of consideration, and all
in Angola or Mozambique except in the district the industry in Lourenco Marques joined
of Inhambane, where a complicated situation together can hardly provide enough
exists at the moment. In the Southern Limpopo work for more than a few dozen workers.
Valley at Joao Bele the demand for land by Let people say what they like, what ap-
Africans wishing to become full-time farmers pears to us to be an incontrovertible
exceeds the supply, but the reclamation of fact is that the native of Mozambique
higher reaches of the fertile valley has begun emigrates in order to get a living, to get
and the problem there will be solved. money with which to pay for cattle and
Why then, critics ask, do so many Africans women, with which to pay his taxes
migrate from Angola and Mozambique? More and to provide for the modest but in-
nonsense has been written about the motives evitable expenses of his household . . .
or reasons for African migration than almost We do not have the right to prevent
any other aspect of African life. Though I him from emigrating unless we can pro-
have no doubt that the abuses mentioned by vide him with sufficiently well-paid em-
Galvao in regard to the recruitment of labour, ployment, as close as possible to his
the fiddling of pay sheets, the use of illegal villages . . . IG
compulsion by administrative officers whose I think I have said enough to indicate how
duty was to protect the workers, not exploit unreliable much of the information about
them, occasionally took place, that these were labour conditions in Portuguese Africa is,
the rule rather than the exception, I am not when one takes the trouble to look more
prepared to accept; not for sentimental reasons, closely into the subject.
but because I have seen at first hand, workers The abolition of compulsory labour and of
being recruited and paid off after their period the compulsory cultivation of certain crops
of contract both in Angola and South Africa, like cotton since 1961, and the introduction
and I had the opportunity of discussing the of the new Rural Workers Code in October
'shibalo' system with workers in the Tete and 1962'7 have done away with most of the
Cabora Bassa regions. The information I was undesirable features of labour conditions in
able to gather, incidentally, without an ad- Mocambique. The measures, which as far as
ministrative official or a policeman breathing Mozambique is concerned, I have been able
down my neck to ensure that I asked the to see for myself, are being rigorously im-
'right' questions and received the 'right' answer, plemented in practice, did not produce any
convinced me that if the abuses described by marked decline in the production of cotton
Galvao and Davidson had occurred as frequent- or in the available supply of labour, as many
ly as they alleged, these would have precipit- employers in Mozambique were sure would be
ated such a flood of migrants across the borders the inevitable result of such rash measures.
of Angola and Mozambique, that not even There has been a marked increase in
the most authoritarian of governments would the numbers of Africans seeking employment
have been able to conceal this phenomenon. in the major urban centres and it is there that
Furthermore, there would have been violent the problems of accommodation and social
protests from their neighbours. control are most complex.
Many years ago, in 1927, Brito Camacho, The productivity of African labour all over
the last High Commissioner of the Liberal Re- the continent continues to be low. A survey
public in Mocambique, said: carried out under the auspices of the C.C.T.A.
How do we explain then . . . that every (Commission for Technical Cooperation South
year, tens of thousands of workers of the Sahara) from which Portugal and South
emigrate from Mozambique. This fact Africa were expelled, showed that there was
has this clear and prosaic enough still a high level of labour turnover in Angola
explanation . . . the workers of Mozam- and Mozambique, which is a sure indication
bique from South of the Save cannot of a low level of productivity. But even in the
find sufficiently well-paid work in the Republic of South Africa, which claims to be

50
the most economically advanced country on with every new governor — according
this continent, labour turnover, except in a to his thoughts, his ideas, his friendships
few select industries that provide proper train- and his interests. Instability is the most
ing for their workers, is relatively high and searing indictment that for a long time
overall productivity of South African industry now, has been levelled against us . . . ' 8
is still much lower than that of more developed As far as actual race policy is concerned
countries. then, until 1961, it was tacitly assumed that
My impression of labour conditions today somehow or another, all the peoples of differ-
in Mozambique is that, except for skilled arti- ent ethnic origins living in Portuguese con-
sans, both wages as well as working conditions trolled territories would gradually become
compare favourably with those existing in integrated into a common Portuguese orientated
South Africa. What Mozambique needs, with society. The Portuguese language would be the
most other countries in Africa is more avenues most important common cultural link between
for employment in industry for the increasing them. This is what has happened with Brazil,
number of Africans who cannot and will not with many of the inhabitants of the Indian en-
be able to become independent full time far- claves of Goa, Damao and Diu, with the
mers. Like other African economies, that of Chinese inhabitants of Macau and many of
Mozambique will have to be diversified if it the Indonesians of Timor.
is not to be continually at the mercy of the After 1961, with the abolition of the
low level of world prices for its agricultural Estatuto that discriminated between Portuguese
and tropical products. citizens and indigenous inhabitants and in-
troduced the indigenat system copied from the
CONCLUSION French, the Portuguese government has been
The first, and most important conclusion firmly committed to a clear cut policy of culture
that can be derived from this brief discussion amalgamation and biological fusion between
of some of the stated aims, as well as actual peoples of all races in their overseas provinces.
practice of Portuguese policy in Africa, is In January 1972 further regulations were en-
that, as far as race relations are concerned, the acted increasing the penalties to be applied
Portuguese had no clear cut policy. This is clear against persons or organizations found guilty
from the most recent and detailed study of of racial discrimination of any kind.
Portuguese policy in Africa by Wilensky, but The war in the northern and western dis-
is even clearer from the following statements tricts of Mocambique has brought about a
extracted from a speech made by a former certain cooling in the very amicable and easy-
Minister for Colonies, Dr. Armindo Monteiro, going relations between White and Black, which
on 12 February, 1932, to the students of the made such an impression on me during my
School for Higher Colonial Studies in Lisbon: first long visit to the territory. They contrasted
The Empire lacks a colonial doctrine so strongly with the tension and antagonism
based on the secular experience of the I had become so used to experiencing in South
(Portuguese) people, worked out against Africa. Even though writers, artists and other
i 1 the lessons of our victories and our de- intellectuals of any colour are viewed with
feats; the successes that have crowned considerable suspicion by the authorities, there
some of our enterprises and the reverses is not as much tension as might normally be
that have prevented the development of expected in a country that is going through
some of our collective ambitions; (we what is, after all, a crisis situation.
lack) a doctrine that should point to My own experience in various parts of the
the future after carefully balancing the country, has convinced me that what Schutz
virtues of our race against its weaknesses calls the 'lebenswelt' of the Portuguese is so
. . . Our colonial administration has different from that of their neighbours, that
no stability. Ministers succeed ministers it allows for contacts between White and Black
and governors follow governors with to take place on a level of tolerance and equal-
disconcerting rapidity . . . In recent ity that has never been possible in South Africa,
times during one year, several ministers or what was British Central and East Africa.
were in charge of the colonies. The ad- I suggest that some of the fundamental
ministration of each colony changes values and assumptions that are an integral

51
part of the Portuguese life-style, are partly as their neighbours do. They consider all poli-
responsible for this. The old-fashioned humanis- ticians to be fools or knaves, or a little of both.
tic traditions of the Renaissance and the They are highly and vociferously critical of
Enlightenment are still a very strong part of the all authority and hero-worship is reserved
Portuguese cultural tradition. Theirs is an out- strictly for good soccer and basket-ball players,
but even that is tinged with irony.
ward looking nationalism that welcomes
To conclude, the Portuguese still believe
strangers and foreigners into their midst. They
in the essential dignity of every man, woman
are pleased when peoples ©f other colours speak or child, regardless of race, and that this is
their language, share their values and act as they worth protecting as against the demands of
do; they are flattered by imitation, not insulted; the machine, or of technology or the profit
they are not upset by obvious differences, only motive. And it is this that gives life amongst
interested in them. They do not attach the them a certain individual savour that is lacking
same value to money or commercial success in other countries.

REFERENCES
^Collected Papers, 3rd edit.. The Hague, Nijhoff, 1971, I, pp.3, 48.
2'Estatuto Civil e Criminal dos Indigenas de Angola e Mozambique', Decree 16, 473 of 6.ii.l929.
sQuoted in C. R. Boxer, Relations in the Portuguese Colonial Empire. 1415-1825. Oxford. Claredon Press,
1963, p . l .
"Ibid., p.2.

7
eThe Science of Alan in the World Crisis, ed. R. Linton, New York, Columbia Univ. Press 1944, p.308.
'Thc expansion of the Portuguese m the overseas m the light of modern anthropology', in Inquiry into Anti-
colonialism, Lisbon, junta de Investigates do Ultramar, 1957, pp.241, 249.
^Quoted in Antologia Colonial Portuguesa. Lisbon, Agenda Geral da Colonias, 1946, I, pp.15, 16.
^Portuguese Africa, Cambridge (Mass.). Harvard Univ. Press, 1959, p.261.
ioAn African Survey Revised 1956. London. Oxford Univ. Press, 1957 p.232.
"Decree 43, 893 of 6.ix.l961.
'^Portuguese Africa, p.294.
i3'Les elites noires dans les territoircs portugais sous le iegime de l'lndigenat'. Bulletin des Sciences Socialcs. 1958,
8, 475.
^Portuguese Africa, p.295.
isA. Rita Fcrreira, O Movimento Migratorio de Trabalhadores enlre Moqambique e a Africa, do Sid, Lisbon,
Junta de Inve.stigac.oes do Ultramar, 1963. Estudos de Ciencias Politicas e Sociais No. 67, p.139.
islbid,, pp.157-8.
nlbid., p.158; 'Rural labour code for Portuguese overseas provinces', International Labour Review, 1962, 86,
!8
285-93; A. II. Wilensky, Trends in Portuguese Overseas Legislation for Africa, Braga, Pax, 1971, pp. 192ff.
Quoted in Antologia Colonial Portuguesa. I, pp.245, 249.

i ,

52