The fortress of São Francisco do Penedo, in Luanda, dates back to 1785

Controversy over Portugal’s decision to pay €34 million for museum in Angola

Museum to commemorate Angola’s ‘struggle for national freedom’ (from Portugal)

A new row has broken out over the State’s decision to fund a museum in Angola – to the tune of €34 million – dedicated to the country’s struggle for national liberation from Portugal.

Right wing party CHEGA sees the decision as “an outrage”; yet another example of the “biased media-driven historical revisionism that is in vogue, but which is far from unanimous, let alone scientifically correct”.

While Portugal’s minister for foreign affairs João Gomes Cravinho has sought to highlight the “importance of remembering that Portuguese freedom has a lot to do with the struggle for colonial liberation of the peoples in various African countries colonised by Portugal at the time”, CHEGA’s parliamentary group is having none of it.

The MPs see the decision as Portugal “implicitly taking the blame for overseas colonisation” and a piece of history “of which all of us Portuguese should be proud”. 

Indeed, in CHEGA’s mindset, Portugal’s overseas colonisation stands “as the best thing we have undertaken and given to the history of humanity.” 

Then there is the issue of quite so much money being spent in the way in which it has. CHEGA believes €34 million could have been better spent on “other purposes more suited to our country’s interests”.

According to SOL, the money has already been transferred to Angola, as part of the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the April 25 revolution (officially falling next year).

As reports explain, the museum project – taking place in an 18th century fortress in Luanda – was initially “taken on by Angola”, with the Portuguese State later undertaking to be ‘full guarantor’ and ultimately financer. 

The work is in the hands of Portuguese company Mota-Engil, which actually signed the contract five years ago, with nothing concrete ever having moved forwards. This then started to change following the visit by prime minister António Costa to Angola last summer.

An order signed by the ministers of finance and economy two weeks ago saw the necessary funds released, says SOL. 

The Portuguese State’s guarantee was presented as “part of the official support instruments for export credits to ensure the credit risks inherent in the export of goods and services of Portuguese origin and to support the internationalisation of the Portuguese business fabric”.

As the online points out, this has since ‘moved on’ further in as much as the funding is now more presented as ‘commemorating the 50th anniversary of the April 25 Revolution’, slightly early.

Confused? Outraged? CHEGA believes the decision is “absurd and inconsistent”, as well as being an “attempt to manipulate and politically instrumentalise history, with the government also trying to divert attention from the country’s problems”. ND

Source material: Lusa/ SOL