Africa And Aboriginal Tuesdays: Brazil and the Angolan Connection by Ricardo C. Amaral

There was a labor shortage in Brazil in the XVI Century, and the Portuguese traders began to fill their ships with Congolese (Congo) and Angolan (Angola) slaves instead of other goods.

During the Eighty Years War (1568-1648) between Spain and the Netherlands, Portugal's crown joined the Spanish crown in 1580, and Portugal was ruled by Spain until 1640, a time when Portugal regained its independence.

"In 1572, the Netherlands revolted against Spanish rule. In retaliation Spain closed Iberian ports to Dutch ships. As a counter-measure, the Dutch began to challenge the Iberian monopoly of world trade."

"Portugal was forced to defend her imperial possessions against the onslaught of the Dutch. The Dutch West India Company, formed in 1621, took 15,430 slaves to Brazil by 1623." In 1630, the Dutch seized a sizeable portion of northern Brazil that they were to retain until 1654, when Portugal, once again independent, reclaimed its Brazilian possession.

In 1600, the known Brazilian total population was estimated at 100,000 people (30,000 white, 70,000 mestiços, negros and native Indians). By 1660, the population was estimated at 184,000 people (74,000 white and free native Indians, 110,000 slaves).

By 1700, the population was estimated at 300,000 people (100,000 slaves not including slaves under 14 years old—information based on documents related to mining in Brazil). The best estimated numbers were 180,000 white, mestiços and free native Indians, and a total of 120,000 slaves.

By 1819, right before Brazilian independence in 1822, the Brazilian population was estimated at 4,396,000 people including 300,000 mestiços, 696,000 native Brazilian Indians, 1,360,000 African slaves and 2,040,000 white people.

Until 1700, most of the African slaves were located in the Captaincies of the north of Brazil. They started using the labor of African slaves in other regions of Brazil only after the year 1700.

It is estimated that between 1700 and 1851 approximately 2.2 million to 3.0 million African slaves arrived in Brazil. It is also known where these African slaves came from. "The slave traders brought approximately 67 percent of the African slaves from Luanda and Benguela (Angola), 29 percent from Congo, and the remaining 4 percent from Cabo Verde, Moçambique and Madagascar."

In terms of numbers, approximately 1.4 million African slaves came from Angola, 600,000 came from Congo, and less than 100,000 came from Cabo Verde, Moçambique and Madagascar.

Since Angola and Congo are next door to each other, we can say that at least 96 percent of all African slaves brought into Brazil came from the same area in Africa and that the black Brazilian population knows the source of their roots. We also can say that the majority of the black population in Brazil are descendants from Angolans (67 percent) or from Congolese (29 percent).

"Congo was the first kingdom on the west coast of central Africa to come into contact with Europeans. The earliest such contact occurred in 1483 when the Portuguese explorer Diego Cão reached the mouth of the Congo River." In 1483 the Congo and Angola were not divided as separate countries as they are today.

When the Portuguese crown was under Spanish rule, the Dutch conquered the Congo and took it away from the Portuguese—the original European country to take control of the Congo. A large portion of the slaves who left the Congo and were brought to Brazil by the Dutch ended up in the northern portion of Brazil; some ended up in Ceará and some ended up in Pernambuco. Most black Brazilians from these areas of Brazil, most likely are the descendants of the slaves who came from the Congo.

Crown Jewel

"Angola and Brazil were both colonies of Portugal, but the Portuguese treated these two colonies in a completely different manner. The governing authorities in Angola had a difficult time because they had to deal with a group of settlers prone to rebellion. Because Brazil was the jewel of Portugal's overseas territories, Portuguese who immigrated to Angola were frequently deserters, degredados, peasants, and others who had been unable to succeed in Portugal or elsewhere in the Portuguese speaking world."

"Owing principally to the African colony's unsavory reputation in Portugal and the high regard in which Brazil was held, there was little emigration to Angola in the 1600's and 1700's. Thus, the white population of Angola in 1777 was less than 1,600 people. Of this number, very few whites were females; one account states that in 1846 the ratio of Portuguese men to Portuguese women in the colony was eleven to one."

The Portuguese were less concerned with the welfare of the colony (Angola) than with the profit they could realize from the slave trade. Unfettered trade with Brazil, Cuba and the USA enabled the Portuguese slave dealers to enjoy a period of great prosperity, while the Angolan kingdom suffered increased depopulation.

The Portuguese government abolished the slave trade in 1836. In 1858 slavery was legally abolished in Angola.

"The Portuguese bought slaves, called peças (pieces), from local chiefs in exchange for commodities such as cloth and wine. The slaves returned to Luanda or Benguela in chain gangs of several hundred captives, most of whom were malnourished and in poor condition from the arduous trip on foot."

"On the coast, they were better fed and readied for their sea crossing. Before embarking they were baptized en masse by Roman Catholic priests. The Atlantic crossing in the overcrowded, unsanitary vessels lasted from five to eight weeks. Many captives died en route.

From 1600 to 1836, when Portugal abolished slave trade, Angola may have been the source of as many as 2 million slaves who came to the New World. More than half of these slaves went to Brazil. Considering the number of slaves who actually arrived, and taking into account those who died crossing the Atlantic or during transport from the interior to the coast for shipping, the Angolan area may have lost as many as 4 million people as a result of the slave trade."

"As of January 1st, 1808, the slave trade was outlawed throughout the British Empire. The British were not the first to abolish the slave trade; the Danes had done so four years before, but Spain, Portugal, France and Holland—remained as active as ever."

"For various reasons, not all of them philanthropic, the British attempted to achieve an international ban on slave trade. They wished to protect the British West Indies from the competition of slave-produced Cuban and Brazilian sugar. In 1818 the French agreed to abolish slave trade, as did Holland.

Both Portugal and Spain, however, needed financial inducement—Spain in particular being reluctant to relinquish her right to trade with Cuba, her principal slave market. In 1815, Portugal received £750,000 on the understanding she confined her share of the traffic to the transport of slaves from south of the Equator to her own colonies. When Brazil in 1826, after attaining independence in 1822, agreed to end the slave trade, it also became in effect illegal for the Portuguese. In 1817, Spain was paid £400,000 compensation to abandon the slave trade in the northern Hemisphere."

Better Treatment in Brazil

"In Brazil, as in other Roman Catholic nations, slaves were on the whole better treated than in Protestant countries. There were a number of reasons for this. For one thing, Spain, Portugal and France all had detailed laws concerning the treatment of slaves.

For another, the Church took a close interest in the lot of the slaves, encouraging church marriages, and opposing the separation of families. Thirdly, the Portuguese like the Spanish had little race or color prejudice."

"Emancipation came to Brazil in a number of stages. Direct Portuguese rule ended in 1822. In 1826, Brazil gave Britain the right to search ships suspected of carrying slaves, and in 1830 Brazil declared the slave trade to be piracy.

Little changed, however, until 1851, when in a well-coordinated political and naval campaign, Britain made a conclusive move that drastically cut imports of slaves. In 1871, Brazil passed a partial abolition act; complete emancipation followed in 1888, when the remaining 700,000 black slaves were freed."

Three people played a major role to end slavery in Brazil: José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (The Patriarch of Independence), his brother Martim Francisco, and later his grandson José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (The Younger).

José Bonifácio's presentation "On Slavery" to the Constituent and Legislative Assembly when they were writing the first Brazilian Constitution was later translated and published in London in 1826. This position paper prepared by José Bonifácio is the most important and influential work in Brazil regarding ending the traffic of slaves and ending the institution of slavery in Brazil.

If José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva had stayed in power from 1824 on in Brazil, he would have ended slavery in Brazil by 1840, almost 50 years before the slaves finally gained their emancipation in Brazil.

Angola—civil war and peace

In November 1975, after five centuries as a Portuguese colony, Angola became an independent state. But neither prosperity nor peace was accomplished after independence from Portugal. After independence, Angola was engulfed in a civil war that lasted over 27 years.

Mr. Jonas Savimbi—the guerrilla leader who fought to topple the Angolan government for more than two decades—was killed in battle on February 22, 2002. Mr. Savimbi was the leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). In 1986, after Mr. Savimbi had a meeting with President Reagan in Washington, he received military aid from the U.S. government for him to continue waging his guerrilla war against the Angolan government under the leadership of President José Eduardo dos Santos.

Today, following Mr. Savimbi's death—Angola has a great opportunity to find the kind of peace that has eluded that country since its independence. Finally, there is a good prospect for lasting peace in Angola, and a chance to position Angola in the direction and on the road to prosperity. Farewell to the fallen soldier—Mr. Savimbi—rest in peace!

Finally, Peace in Angola

Over the years I had the opportunity to do business with an Angolan state company and with the Angolan government in New York. During this process, I had to learn about Angolan history to better understand the Angolans and the issues that caused them to get into their situation of a civil war.

In April 1992, I sent a proposal to the Angolan Ambassador to The United Nations, giving them a plan of action, and the steps necessary for them to develop investment opportunities in Angola, and bring in the necessary capital to help them develop their economy. In June 1993, I had the opportunity to meet in New York Mr. Emanuel Moreira Carneiro, the Angolan Finance Minister.

The economic plan covered the development of telecommunications, ports system, rail system, road system, agriculture, the timber industry, and further development of their natural resources (oil, diamond, iron ore, manganese, copper, gold, zinc, tin, lead, uranium, quartz, marble, granite, phosphate, fluorite, sulfur, mica, gypsum, feldspar, kaolin, talc, etc.). The plan also included further development of their fishing industry, since fish were abundant in Angolan waters.

The plan described strategies that would have helped rebuild the infrastructure of the country. The project was terminated because of changes in the government and the further escalation of the Angolan civil war at that time.

Brazil and Angola in the Future

Angola is located on the African continent, facing Brazil, right across the Atlantic Ocean. Angola is a large country with 481,354 sq. mi. (its land is a little bigger than the combined size of Texas, California and New York States), and it has today a small estimated population of 11 million people.

Now that Angola is independent and it is finally able to resolve its internal conflict for the control of power in that country, these events have created a unique opportunity. Based on the fact of the mutual past history of Brazil and Angola, I believe Brazil has the moral responsibility to do everything it can to help the Angolan nation get back on its feet.

Angola has a strong connection to Brazil and to the United States because these countries were the main places were Angolan slaves landed in the New World. Brazil was the largest recipient of these Angolan slaves, but the United States wasn't far behind.

Half of the slaves who left Angola (Africa) never made to their new home in the New World. Only a little over half of the Angolan slaves who were lucky to make to the New World ended up in Brazil. A large part of the remaining slaves ended up in the United States. Today, many African Americans who were born in the United States are descendants of Angolans or descendants of the people who lived in the areas around Angola in the African continent.

Nothing can justify what was done in the past to these African people, including the Angolans. No human being deserves to end up in chains and as a slave! It is time for Brazil to help Angola in every way possible, and try to repair some of the injustices done in the past to the Angolan people.

Ricardo C. Amaral was born in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. He attended Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey, USA, where he received a B.A. degree in Economics and later an MBA degree in Finance. He continued his Academic studies towards a PhD. degree in Economics at Fordham University, but then elected to immerse himself totally into a professional corporate career. Mr. Amaral is among a very few remaining living descendants of both José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (The Patriarch of Brazilian Independence) and his brother Martim Francisco Ribeiro de Andrada—the founding fathers of Brazil. Mr. Amaral welcomes comments via e-mail at:

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Tuesday, September 9, 2003