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Title:Os empresários Balantas da rizicultura de mangal: fruto de um casamento de conveniência entre empresários coloniais e uma sociedade campesina 'livre' da Guiné-Bissau
Author:Drift, Roy van der
Periodical:Revista internacional de estudos Africanos
Geographic terms:Guinea-Bissau
Abstract:Despite the fact that historical representations characterized the Balanta of Guinea-Bissau as noble and rebellious savages, colonial experiences contradict widely accepted stereotypes of an 'uncaptured peasantry'. In fact, they demonstrate the key role played by the Balanta, floodplain rice producers par excellence, with regard to the rapid expansion of 'ponta' or plantation agriculture. Working in conjunction with mostly Cape Verdean trader-planters, the so-called 'ponteiros', successive migratory waves in the 1890s, 1920s and again in the 1940s enabled the Balanta to greatly expand rice production in the region. Acting against the wishes of a Portuguese colonial administration keen to retain control over export agriculture and land concessions, the uneasy alliance between Balanta and 'ponteiros' was to be decisive for the course and outcome of the war of independence (1963-1974). When economic liberalization was introduced in the 1980s Balanta traders, following the example of erstwhile 'ponteiros', again demonstrated their propensity for agricultural entrepreneurship. The economic opportunities thereby created and the changes taking place in Balanta society at the level of age, gender and kinship relations, produced a dynamic which bestowed a new protagonism upon younger generations, including women and uninitiated men. Notes, ref., sum in English, text in Portuguese. [Journal abstract]