Portuguese colonialism was a program of oppression and subjugation of many peoples

Writers Djimilia Pereira de Almeida and Gisela Casimiro, artists Angela Ferreira and Francisco Vidal, curator and researcher Nuno Crespo, like other creatives interviewed by Lusa Agency, unite the need to bring the history of the oppressed into mainstream history. Portuguese colonialism was as violent as any, repairing centuries of damage from schoolbooks and “replacing suffering, even if it necessitates suffering.”

“We will not evolve if we constantly put on the table that with us it is different than with others,” assures the colonists, writer and “rapper” Delma Twon, author of “A Black Very Portuguese.” Art and culture, the possibility of “putting your finger on the wound”, talking about what you dare not talk about.

Essayist Eduardo Lorenzo pointed out that “colonialism is beyond our thinking” in a volume of essays written over several decades, from the years of the dictatorship, in which he “criticized colonial myths” and addressed the “living traditions” of this past.

Portugal reveals itself “in all its complexity” through colonialism, the essayist wrote in the preface to the first edition of the work published ten years ago and now revived “revised and expanded.” Here he refers to the “supreme sin of racism”, confronting the colonial reality with its myths, exploring its contradictions and exposing “this astonishing silence”, “much of its history, constructed from the outside, avoids assumptions. […] How was it inside.”

Visual artists such as Angela Ferreira, Francisco Vidal and Gia Soares have addressed the violence of this silence in their works in installations such as “Amnesia” (1997), “Tendency to Forget” (2015) and “Destruction of Fanun” (2022). )

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Angela Ferreira, born in Mozambique and living in Portugal since the 1990s, believes that Portugal can only “decolonize the mind, culture and society” when it can “overcome the problems” that reflect its colonial past. Account of findings.

“The crux of the problem is that we're not working on decolonizing our mind and society,” he declared to the Lusa agency about a topic that has become increasingly topical in recent years, namely the return of works of art and artifacts from colonial countries such as France, the United Kingdom and Belgium.

In a similar vein, the visual artist and artist Francisco Vidal, born in Lisbon, the son of an Angolan father and a Cape Verdean mother, said he believes that the symbols of the Portuguese colonial past are “alive” in ideas, emotions and actions. , and argued that “decolonization of contemporary Portuguese thought” continues to be important.

“After 50 years, we have to do this, because there are still alive and active brands”, assured the artist born in 1978, already after the Carnation Revolution, giving an example of the actor Bruno Conte killed in broad daylight in 2021. , by a former colonial war veteran who was accused and convicted of a racial hate crime.

Angolan artist Zia Soares created the show “Fanun Ruin” presented in Lisbon in 2022, with as its starting point a collection of 35 Timorese skulls from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Coimbra.

“Fanun ruin” (“To call bones”, translated from Tetum into Portuguese) is, according to the artist, a reflection of the colonial past and its impact on the present, aiming to linger around issues of memory, identity and grief.

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The creator, who works in Portugal, Guinea-Bissau and São Tomé and Príncipe, openly asked several questions on stage: “What were the faces of the dismembered bodies? Where are the remains of the bodies? When were the stolen bones? Who is waiting for them? Who wants to forget?

Angolan-born author Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida, representative of literature on race and identity, particularly the novels “Essay Hare” and “Luanda, Lisboa, Paraiso”, also cites evidence that signs of colonialism persist in the present. , and he likes to call them “open wounds,” “rewriting history, to a limited extent” that's possible.

“It would be good if what we wrote in the books changed the course of things, but I still feel optimistic that it is important to do collective work in the sense of this change. But civic”, he argues.

Regarding the notion that Portuguese colonialism was gentler than others, the author rejects it outright, insisting that “there is no colonialism without violence” and that it is “a myth, as some believe.”

Gisela Casimiro, a writer, activist and artist born in Guinea-Bissau, has a similar opinion, for whom the topic is “not open to debate” and, if there is a hierarchy of colonialism, “Portugal would be in the first or best places. “, a widely documented fact.

“Unfortunately, a crystallized idea persists, the misinformation and romanticization of colonialism. People deny this colonial legacy or justify what they don't have,” argues the author of “Estendaise,” “colonial imagination” and “colonial fantasy” that “conquer one's own superiority and subjugation of others and Childbirth” is not real, but “something people learned in history books, which has not been updated with the truth to this day.”

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No mood. Delma tells Twain: “When I go to Angola I feel that the Portuguese have a very colonial attitude. They have an attitude of 'I'm here to show you how it is,' 'I'm in charge.' We, the Portuguese, will teach you how to live and be in your proposed land.” .

“I see this on a daily basis here in Portugal”, continues the rapper, who has a degree in African studies. “I live here and I can tell if I see something bad, the first thing they tell me is I'm not from here. [Mas] I am here because they paved the way. Findings – in quotation marks – they are very happy for this glory, but they forget that Diogo Gao and all these people are the ones who paved the way for me to be here.”

Researcher Nuno Crespo, director of the School of Arts of the Catholic University of Porto (UCP), said that 50 years after April 25, “there is still a great deal of work to be done, not only in approaching colonialism. The process and decolonization, but also integrating other societies into our own present society.”

Nuno Crespo, who spoke with Lusa at the start of the cycle “It wasn't Cabral: Rethinking silences and omissions,” asserted this week: “We have very little awareness of the violence with which the Portuguese colonial project was created.”

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