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Political Changes and Shifts in Labour Relations in Mozambique, 1820s–1920s*

  • Filipa Ribeiro da Silva (a1)

Abstract

This article examines the main changes in the policies of the Portuguese state in relation to Mozambique and its labour force during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, stemming from political changes within the Portuguese Empire (i.e. the independence of Brazil in 1821), the European political scene (i.e. the Berlin Conference, 1884–1885), and the Southern African context (i.e. the growing British, French, and German presence). By becoming a principle mobilizer and employer of labour power in the territory, an allocator of labour to neighbouring colonial states, and by granting private companies authority to play identical roles, the Portuguese state brought about important shifts in labour relations in Mozambique. Slave and tributary labour were replaced by new forms of indentured labour (initially termed serviçais and latter contratados) and forced labour (compelidos). The period also saw an increase in commodified labour in the form of wage labour (voluntários), self-employment among peasant and settler farmers, and migrant labour to neighbouring colonies.

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The research that forms the basis of this study was carried out within the framework of three research projects: the Global Collaboratory on the History of Labour Relations, 1500–2000, hosted by the International Institute of Social History and sponsored by the Gerda Henkel Foundation and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO); the Labour Relations in Portugal and the Lusophone World, 1800–2000: Continuities and Changes project; and the Counting Colonial Populations: Demography and the Use of Statistics in the Portuguese Empire, 1776–1890 project, both sponsored by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.

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1 Alexandre, Valentim, Origens do colonialismo português moderno (1822–1891) (Lisbon, 1979). Idem and Proença, Maria Cândida, A questão colonial no Parlamento (1821–1910) (Lisbon, 2008). Alexandre, Valentim, Os sentidos do Império: questão nacional e questão colonial na crise do Antigo Regime português (Porto, 1993). Idem, Velho Brasil, novas Áfricas: Portugal e o Império (1808–1975) (Porto, 2000). See, for example, de Brito Capello, Hermenegildo Carlos and Ivens, Roberto, De Angola à Contra-Costa, 2 vols (Lisbon, 1886). Idem, De Benguella às terras de Iácca (Lisbon, 1881).

2 Final Act of the Berlin Conference, Article 35.

3 Clarence-Smith, William, The Third Portuguese Empire: 1825–1975 (Manchester, 1985).

4 Cooper, Frederick, Decolonization and African Society: The Labor Question in French and British Africa (Cambridge, 1996). Allina, Eric, Slavery by Any Other Name: African Life under Company Rule in Colonial Mozambique (Charlottesville, 2012).

5 Preliminary results for the dataset under construction can be found in da Silva, Filipa Ribeiro, “Relações Laborais em Moçambique, 1800”, Diálogos, 17 (2013), pp. 835868 .

6 On the earlier Portuguese presence in the region, see, among others, Isaacman, Allen, Mozambique: The Africanization of a European Institution, the Zambezi Prazos, 1750–1902 (Madison, WI, 1972), Newitt, Malyn, Portuguese Settlement on the Zambesi: Exploration, Land Tenure and Colonial Rule in East Africa (New York, 1973), and Pearson, Michael N., Port Cities and Intruders: The Swahili Coast, India, and Portugal in the Early Modern Era (Baltimore, 1998), Introduction and ch. 1. Eugénia Rodrigues, “Portugueses e Africanos nos Rios de Sena, Os Prazos da Coroa nos Séculos XVII e XVIII” (Ph.D., Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2002).

7 Under Roman Law, emphyteusis was a contract by which a landed estate was leased to a tenant, either in perpetuity or for many years, upon payment of an annual rent or canon, and on condition that the lessee improved the property, by building, cultivating, or otherwise, with the lessee having the right to alienate the estate at his pleasure or pass it to his heirs by descent, and with the property being free from any right of revocation, re-entry, or claim of forfeiture on the part of the grantor, except for non-payment of the rent. The right granted by such a contract was designated jus emphytcuticum, or emphytcuticarium.

8 Newitt, , A History of Mozambique (Bloomington, 1995), p. 217 . Each Prazo varied in size, but usually included an area under the direct administration of the land tenant and several attached villages of free and enslaved Africans. Isaacman, Mozambique: The Africanization of a European Institution. Newitt, Portuguese Settlement on the Zambesi. Isaacman, Allen and Isaacman, Barbara, “The Prazeros as Transfrontiersmen: A Study in Social and Cultural Change”, International Journal of African Historical Studies, 8:1 (1975), pp. 139 .

9 A great deal of the early Portuguese maritime exploration, settlement and economic development, tax collection, and management of royal trade monopolies had been outsourced to private entrepreneurs, businessmen, and consortia. See, among many others, de Saldanha, António Vasconcelos, As Capitanias e o Regime Senhorial na Expansão Ultramarina Portuguesa (Funchal, 1992), Costa, Leonor Freire, O transporte no Atlântico e a Companhia Geral do Comércio do Brasil (1580–1663), 2 vols (Lisbon, 2002), and Carreira, António, As Companhias Pombalinas de Navegação, Comércio e Tráfico de Escravos entre a Costa Africana e o Nordeste Brasileiro (Porto, 1969).

10 Newitt, A History of Mozambique, p. 194.

11 Inland trading centres were called feiras in Portuguese sources.

12 Newitt, A History of Mozambique, p. 183. On the Mozambican slave trade and its inland and overseas dimensions, see, among others, Alpers, Edward A., Ivory and Slaves: Changing Patterns of International Trade in East Central Africa to the Later Nineteenth Century (Berkeley, 1975), Machado, Pedro, “A Forgotten Corner of the Indian Ocean: Gujarati Merchants, Portuguese India and the Mozambique Slave-Trade, c.1730–1830”, Slavery & Abolition, 24:2 (2003), pp. 1732 , Capela, José, “Slave Trade Networks in Eighteenth-Century Mozambique”, in David Richardson and Filipa Ribeiro da Silva (eds), Networks and Trans-Cultural Exchange: Slave Trading in the South Atlantic, 1590–1867 (Leiden, 2014), pp. 165194 .

13 Sheldon, Kathleen E., Pounders of Grain: A History of Women, Work, and Politics in Mozambique (Portsmouth, NH, 2002), ch. 1.

14 Newitt, A History of Mozambique, pp. 237–242.

15 Ibid., p. 241.

16 Mauro, Fréderic, Portugal, o Brasil e o Atlântico (1570–1670), 2 vols (Lisbon, 1997). Vilar, Enriqueta Vila, Hispanoamerica y el comercio de esclavos (Seville, 1977).

17 In the Portuguese Empire, the single exception to this was in Angola, where officials of the Crown were authorized to enslave Africans and/or to purchase them from Africans at fairs or demand payment of tribute from African leaders in slaves – the so-called Tributo dos sobas. Heintze, Beatrix, “Angola nas garras do tráfico de escravos: as guerra do Ndongo (1611–1630)”, Revista Internacional de Estudos Africanos, 1 (1984), pp. 1160 .

18 Isaacman, Mozambique: The Africanization of a European Institution. Newitt, Portuguese Settlement on the Zambezi. Rodrigues, Eugénia, Portugueses e Africanos nos Rios de Sena: os prazos da Coroa em Moçambique nos séculos XVII e XVIII (Lisbon, 2013).

19 Neil-Tomlinson, Barry, “The Mozambique Chartered Company, 1892–1910” (Ph.D., University of London, 1987). Idem, “The Nyassa Chartered Company: 1891–1929”, Journal of African History, 18:1 (1977), pp. 109–128. Vail, Leroy, “Mozambique’s Chartered Companies: The Rule of the Feeble”, Journal of African History, 17:3 (1976), pp. 389416 . Allina, Slavery by Any Other Name.

20 Smith, Alan K., “The Idea of Mozambique and Its Enemies, c.1890–1930”, Journal of Southern African Studies, 17:3 (1991), pp. 496524 . Idem, “The Struggle for the Control of Southern Mozambique, 1720–1835” (Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 1971).

21 For a general overview of the Portuguese-speaking African territories, see Havik, Philip J., Keese, Alexander, and Santos, Maciel, Administration and Taxation in Former Portuguese Africa: 1900–1945 (Cambridge, 2015), ch. 4.

22 In the Portuguese Empire, the single exception to this was in Angola, where, in the sixteenth century, the Portuguese Crown granted to Paulo Dias de Novais a captaincy to promote settlement and economic development. Amaral, Ilídio do, O Consulado de Paulo Dias de Novais: Angola no último quartel do século XVI e primeiro do século XVII (Lisbon, 2000).

23 da Silva Cunha, Joaquim Moreira, O Trabalho Indígena: Estudo de Direito Colonial (Lisbon, 1955), p. 147 , 149. This labour code was deeply influenced by the political and colonial thought of António Enes, former Governor of Mozambique and Minister of Naval and Overseas Affairs. See Enes, António, “A colonização europeia de Moçambique”, in Ministério das Colónias (ed.), Antologia Colonial Portuguesa (Lisbon, 1946), I, pp. 721 ; Enes, António, Moçambique: Relatório Apresentado ao Governo (Lisbon, 1971) [1st ed. 1893].

24 On regulations on native labour recruitment and management within the territory administered by the Mozambique Company, see “Regulamento do Trabalho Indígena”, Boletim da Companhia de Moçambique, 174 (16 November 1900); Boletim da Companhia de Moçambique, 10 (16 May 1907); “Regulamento geral do trabalho dos Indígenas no Território da Companhia de Moçambique”, Boletim da Companhia de Moçambique, 18 (16 September 1907); “Regulamento provisório para o recrutamento e fornecimento de mão d’obra indígena pela Companhia de Moçambique”, Boletim da Companhia de Moçambique, 14 (17 July 1911); “Regulamento provisório para o recrutamento e fornecimento de mão d’obra indígena pela Companhia de Moçambique”, Boletim da Companhia de Moçambique, 4 (16 February 1915); “Código do trabalho dos indígenas nas colónias portuguesas”, Boletim da Companhia de Moçambique, 6 (19 March 1929); “Código do trabalho dos indígenas nas colónias portuguesas”, Boletim da Companhia de Moçambique, 20 (23 October 1930).

25 Resistance assumed different forms, from daring refusals to supply workers and pay taxes, to relocation of their population to another location, by crossing the borders between different colonies or between territories administered by state and concessionary companies. Allina, Slavery by Any Other Name, p. 92.

26 Ibid., pp. 107–118.

27 Ibid., pp. 162–170.

28 Ibid., pp. 51–52, 63, 151–152.

29 On the labour migration of Mozambican workers to South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, see, among others, Harries, Patrick, Work, Culture, and Identity: Migrant Laborers in Mozambique and South Africa, c.1860–1910 (Portsmouth, NH, 1994). Jeeves, Alan H., Migrant Labour in South Africa’s Mining Economy: The Struggle for the Gold Mines’ Labour Supply 1890-1920 (Montreal, 1985), Katzenellenbogen, Simon E., South Africa and Southern Mozambique: Labour, Railways, and Trade in the Making of a Relationship (Manchester, 1982), and van Onselen, Charles, Chibaro: African Mine Labour in Southern Rhodesia, 1900–1933 (London, 1977).

* The research that forms the basis of this study was carried out within the framework of three research projects: the Global Collaboratory on the History of Labour Relations, 1500–2000, hosted by the International Institute of Social History and sponsored by the Gerda Henkel Foundation and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO); the Labour Relations in Portugal and the Lusophone World, 1800–2000: Continuities and Changes project; and the Counting Colonial Populations: Demography and the Use of Statistics in the Portuguese Empire, 1776–1890 project, both sponsored by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.

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Political Changes and Shifts in Labour Relations in Mozambique, 1820s–1920s*

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