The author signs an investigation into the Africanization of Portuguese troops, which begins to be published Thursday in the digital magazine “Divergente”, and, in statements to Lusa, considers that the two cases can be compared.
“For you, Portugal, I swear!” is the name of the report that will be published in four chapters, until January 2022, and also the pretext of a debate that takes place on Thursday at Padrão dos Descobrimentos, in Lisbon, during which two African commandos will participate.
About the African commandos in Guinea-Bissau that fought alongside the Portuguese army during the colonial war, the first elite troop of the Portuguese Armed Forces made up entirely of black men, Sofia de Palma Rodrigues says that everything is to be told and, for many of them , all to do.
“What happened to the former Portuguese colonies in Africa is exactly the same as what happened to those who supported the United States in Afghanistan, but with a big difference: These people weren’t supporting Portugal, they were Portuguese,” he told Lusa news agency the journalist.
The author of this work, which is related to about 30 African commandos in Guinea and Portugal, considers that “the contribution that Africans made to the armed forces during a colonial war” is “a very little talked about topic”.
“Until now, the history of the colonial war has been told from a narrative of those who won it (the April military) and it is this narrative that we have in Portugal: April 25th as a peaceful revolution, in which there was no blood, that guns were nails. But that turns out to be a rather simplistic narrative, because if you look at Africa: in Africa there was blood, there was guns.”
Sofia de Palma Rodrigues was surprised by “the solidarity of the metropolitan militaries in Portugal”, who “are solidary and say they have every reason to complain, because they were totally abandoned. They were great fighters and were abandoned”.
An understanding that the journalist did not find with some official institutions, such as archives or depositaries of statistical data and which “always tend to say that these people were not important and there is no data about them because they were not important”.
“How were they not important? They were an elite troop, they were the front line of the war in Guinea,” he said.
Sofia de Palma Rodrigues believes that this is an issue that “will be uncomfortable, both for the left and for the right”, but quick: “Most of these men did not go to Portugal because they made an ideological choice or because they believed in the colonial project. They went to Portugal or the [Partido Africano para a Independência da Guiné-Bissau e Cabo Verde] PAIGC, much under the circumstances.”
“The men who lived in the cities, closer to the Portuguese troops, those who lived in the fields, closer to the forest and the PAIGC camps, were more on the PAIGC guerrilla side. This all happens in a context where military service it was mandatory for all men over 18”.
He adds: “Most of the people we spoke to didn’t even know what war was or what war meant. Many of them had never heard of the PAIGC. The PAIGC were the terrorists and they were the terrorists because that’s how the administration colonial said those people were “.
For the journalist, “there is everything to do for the Portuguese State to start looking and thinking about this issue as an abandonment. These people were really abandoned. Persecuted by the PAIGC and abandoned on the Portuguese side, she didn’t connect any wrong side of the story, because they are not on the side of those who won on either side”.
“In Guinea, the PAIGC won and they were persecuted. In Portugal, the April military won, with an anti-colonial speech, for decolonization, but it left all these people behind and Portugal becomes a country practically of white people . In the April revolution, you don’t think that there were Africans contributing to the April revolution and they existed.”
Of the 1.4 million metropolitan and African soldiers fighting in the colonial war, 443,000 were Africans, whom Portugal called natives.
These were on the fronts of the wars in Angola (229,000 =, Mozambique (171,000) and Guinea-Bissau (43,000).
“For you, Portugal, I swear!” is an investigation that began in 2016 and will be told a four chapters, the first of which will be available in “Divergent” this Thursday. The second will be published in November, the third in December and the fourth and last in January of next year.
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