Anyone who knows even a little bit about world history knows that over various periods of time within our history and most recently during between the 15th and 18th centuries that humans have engaged in mass colonialism. However, on a daily basis as we interact with society it often goes unnoticed how the non-majority citizens of the countries that have been colonized interact with that country post-colonialism. Not only does go unnoticed but that lackadaisical passive non-acknowledgment seems to slowly turn into denial. And if left un-checked that denial can lay the ground work to embolden extremist groups that call themselves wanting to “cleanse” that country of the diversity which makes it rich or “take their country back”. As most of us can now see vividly, these are not ideals left in our grandparents generation. We’ve seen it in Britain with Brexit, in France, in Germany, with the United States Presidential election and most recently with the overt supremacy rally and resulting deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Seeing these trends, I decided that given the opportunity I would try to take a deep dive in as many places as I could over the next year to truly find out what makes people tick. What are their problems, ideals and beliefs? And specifically respect to colonialism, I knew it was important to obtain a broader perspective than what I received as an American citizen.
In May, I had the opportunity to travel to Lisbon, Portugal a country with a deep history and familiarity with colonialism. Knowing very little about the country, I was excited for the opportunity to dive deeper and hear from the countries citizens directly. During my first couple weeks in Lisbon, I went to a street festival in a district called Mouraria. Out of a situation that could’ve easily ended in confrontation, blossomed a friendship with two gentlemen I’ll forever be thankful for, Sacha Gouveia and Matamba Joaquim. Matumba and Sacha were born in Angola but have spent very significant parts of their lives in Lisbon, where they now citizens. During their gracious hospitality, I learned that Angola was a Portuguese speaking nation along with four other African countries that were once Portuguese colonies. I also learned that there were 5 African countries in total that made up the former Portuguese colonies: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome & Pricipe.
Having not met anyone from these particular countries before I was overwhelmed with intrigue and began to find huge chunks of these countries culture infused in Lisbon. At that same street festival in Mouraria, a very traditional Cape Verdean dish was served called Cachupa. To attempt to describe the satisfaction the dish left me with would be futile and would also certainly do the dish a disservice. I then learned that the sounds of the band that blessed the crowd came Guinea-Bissau. From this experience I further discovered the sounds of Kizomba, Kuduro and Afro-house.
The tidbits of cultural significance that I learned in a couple of weeks not only left me extremely excited but somewhat perplexed. How could I have only vaguely known about the African culture? This then enticed me to ask my new Portuguese friends and separately my friends from Portuguese colonized nations about how Portuguese government and citizens view the countries contribution to colonialism. Were these cultures and countries embraced? How did they honor their relationship with these cultures within their own country and with the 5 aforementioned nations. I answered these questions and was enticed to do my own additional research as a result of this weeks episode of Extended Family. Click the link above and lets continue the conversation.
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