Portugal in Africa: Talk by Peter Kingdon Booker

Algarve historian Peter Kingdon Booker examines Portugal’s African possessions and shows their real value to the nation during two talks held on Friday, May 19 in the Tavira Municipal Library at 11am and on Tuesday, May 20 in the Convento de São José, Lagoa, at 6pm.

Portugal until 1975 had five African colonies – Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe; until 1961, Portugal even had an outpost in Dahomey. All of these territories were all let go after the Carnation Revolution.

The Revolution provided a shock to metropolitan Portugal, but the shock to the African empire was immeasurably greater. Yet for all the effort put into keeping the African colonies during the wars of 1961-1974, were the colonies ever more than an historical tradition?

At the Berlin Conference in 1884, the Portuguese brought all of their historic claims to huge chunks of the continent; they tried to occupy even more with the “mapa cor-de-rosa”. But it eventually appeared that practically none of this was ever economically viable.

What was the story behind the African colonies? Why did Portugal struggle so long to retain them? Did they ever pay their way?

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