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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Developmentalist attitudes and old habits: Portuguese labour policies, South African rivalry, and flight in southern Angola, 1945-1974
Author:Keese, AlexanderISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies (ISSN 1465-3893)
Geographic terms:Angola
South Africa
colonial policy
colonial history
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2015.1012908
Abstract:At first glance, processes of colonial policy and subsequent migratory flows at the Angola-South West Africa border, in the region of the Kunene river, seem to present a straightforward narrative. In the period between the First and Second World Wars, we find an established pattern of Kwanyama/Ovambo leaving Portuguese Angola to escape repressive practices of forced labour, and as a reaction to the mistreatment of political leaders. Flight movements were encouraged by South African officials stationed in the Ovamboland district of South West Africa, directly south of the border, who practised, notably before 1945, a policy of co-optation of local chiefs. However, it has hitherto remained unnoticed that, between 1945 and 1974, changes in the policies of the authoritarian Portuguese empire had highly practical effects with regard to these flows. Until the 1960s, the comparative advantage of South African border policies lost its impact. In the early 1970s, a more liberal tax policy in the Angolan Cunene district had an even stronger impact on the decision-making processes on the part of local populations.The analysis shows quite clearly that, even under the auspices of late colonial social policies, which favoured grand schemes and more thorough control of populations, the initiative of local groups remained unbroken. In a scenario of colonial policy that favoured the power of the Ovambo chiefs on the southern side of the border, women and younger men used the border to escape social conditions they interpreted as repressive, and locals were capable of constantly reanalysing the advantages present on either side of the border. These results, which confirm the room for manoeuvre of potential forced labourers, also warn us not to generalise too readily about the consequences of under-equipped and authoritarian colonial policies, such as for Portuguese rule over southern Angola. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]