ANGOLA / ESTADO NOVO REGIME / GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SECRET TYPESCRIPT REPORT / MODERN SLAVERY, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, ETC.
Angola is a land of culturally sophisticated indigenous nations and astounding natural resources wealth, yet, it has almost always been deeply troubled, seldom reaching anything near its potential. Portugal first established a fixed presence along the coasts of Angola upon the foundation of Luanda (1576). However, for the next three centuries, Portugal almost exclusively used Angola as a source of slaves, making little effort to develop any other aspect of the economy, nor did they have any direct authority over the interior.
After the effective abolition of the Transatlantic slave trade in the 1840s, the Portuguese briefly lost their raison d’être for being in Angola. However, beginning in the 1850s, a new generation of colonial trailblazers went to great effort to develop the agrarian and mining sectors, building railways, and militarily conquering the interior, creating an immensely profitable colony. While slavery within Angola was abolished in 1879, the colony’s black population continued to bear the burden of colonial development, while receiving little of the proceeds.
While the Portuguese admirably defeated a German invasion of Angola during World War I, the colony languished during the period of the First Portuguese Republic (1910-26), mirroring the situation in Metropolitan Portugal, which came close to declaring bankruptcy. Uninspired leadership ensured that, generally speaking, social services were of a poor standard, industries were inefficient, the bureaucracy was lethargic, the standard of living of the black majority was declining, while the state of the white colonists was wretched. Angola came to be seen as perhaps Africa’s greatest lost opportunity.
In 1926, a military coup in Portugal created the Ditadura Nacional (1926-33), that was soon rebranded as the Estado Novo (1933-74). This brought Portugal under a right-wing, Catholic, corporatist dictatorship. From 1928, Portugal and its colonies were ruled by António de Oliveira Salazar (1889 – 1970, de facto dictator of Portugal, 1928-68), who while a seemingly mild-mannered economics professor, nevertheless exercised an iron rule of ruthless efficiency and drive. During the early years of the new regime, he instilled a rigid discipline throughout Portugal’s public and business sectors, dramatically cutting expenditures by finding waste, so balancing the national budget. All the while, Salazar was able to improve social services, while guaranteeing brisk economic growth.
Salazar was determined to bring his administrative revolution to Portugal’s colonies. He passed the The Portuguese Colonial Act (1930), which implemented Apartheid-like policies across Portuguese Africa, including Angola. The plan was to harness the labour of indigenous Angolans to rebuild the colonial economy. Not only would all black male Angolans have to serve 2 years in the Portuguese colonial army, but after they would have to pay an annual head tax equivalent to U.S. $3.80 (then a huge sum, unaffordable by most of the people). Those who could not pay the tax would have the register for chibalo, enforced labour, working for the state or its corporations. This was essentially modern slavery, just by another name. While chibalo in Angola was nothing new, it had been many years since it was effectively institutionalized. As was the case in Metropolitan Portugal, Salazar slashed state expenditures in Angola, with a view towards pressing the public bureaucracy and industrial sectors into shape, finding savings from eliminating inefficiencies (indeed there was lot of ‘slack in the line’). However, these endeavours were made far more difficult by the onset of the Great Depression, which precipitously lowered global commodity prices, much to the detriment of Angola. Reforming Angola promised to be a ‘heavy lift’, and while laws were passed supporting the Estado Novo’s vision, during the midpoint of the1930s, not much concrete had been achieved. Salazar realized that he needed to send a ‘heavyweight’ to Luanda to the get things moving.
Enter Lopes Matheus: Military Strongman and Political Heavyweight of the Early Estado Novo
António Lopes Mateus (1878 – 1955) was one of the most important and effective figures in the early period of the Estado Novo. While he was ardently right-wing and patronizingly racist with regards to black Africans, he was very much the ‘man of the moment’ in terms of reforming Angola to Salazar’s vision.
Born in Viseu, in northern Portugal, Lopes Matheus joined the Portuguese Army in 1897, after attending only short training course. He was posted to Angola in 1904-6, and again in 1914-6, during World War I, where he played a role in repelling the German invasion of the colony. He next served in Mozambique where he fought against the forces of the legendary German guerilla commander Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, for whom he had much admiration.
Promoted to lieutenant-colonel in the wake of the war, Lopes Matheus, a diehard conservative republican, helped to suppress lingering monarchist elements in the north of the country, and played a key role in the successful right-wing military coup of 1926 that brought in the Ditadura Nacional. He was a leading organizer of the União Nacional, Salazar’s ‘non-party’ political movement, becoming one of the dictator’s most trusted lieutenants. From 1930 to 1931, he served as the Portuguese War Minister.
Lopes Mateus was man of adamantine discipline and focus, and his personal mantra could perhaps be best summed up by a line taken for the present work, “with perseverance and a firm will much can be achieved” (p. 8). He was ‘true believer’ in the Estado Novo’s vision of making Angola into a well-oiled economic machine built on the back of impressed African labour. At the same time, he was committed to ‘good government’ practices, in that he believed that both white and black Angolans who ‘cooperated’ with the regime should be guaranteed improved standards of living.
In January 1935, Lopes Mateus was appointed as the Governor-General of Angola. Critically, he would be the first chief executive of the colony to effectively enforce the Estado Novo’s policy regime. A workaholic and perfectionist, as evidenced by the present report, he micromanaged everything, forcefully countering bureaucratic inertia. This was in contrast to his immediate predecessors, who let themselves be carried by circumstances; Lopes Matheus forced circumstances to bend to his will.
The ‘Relatório do Governador Geral’ in Focus
The Governor-Generals of Angola were required by law and custom to write an overarching ‘state of the colony’ report, a ‘Relatório’, every quarter (Portuguese: ‘Trimestre’) for the home government. While most Governor-Generals took this task seriously, few, if any, applied the eagle-eyed attention to detail and obsession with empiricism that Lopes Mateus dedicated to the present work. This original indigo typescript was Lopes Matheus’s first Relatório, written scarcely three months after his arrival in the colony, and which was submitted to Prime Minister Salazar and his cabinet (They are the “Excellencies” oft referred to the in work). Lopes Matheus seems to leave no stone unturned, while not taking the veracity of any statistics or intelligence for granted, for he insisted upon investigating all matters personally.
While some previous relatórios were published (albeit redacted), this report is classified as ‘Reservado’ (Reserved / Restricted), which is not surprising, as Lopes Mateus is brutally candid, often sharply criticizing specific individuals or state entities, revealing sensitive military and industrial intelligence, and trial-ballooning bold and controversial policy proposals.
Critically, the present Relatório is the first in which a Governor-General of Angola properly articulates how the Estado Novo’s policy regime will be implemented. Thus, the report, is one of the foundational documents in the modern history of Angola. Moreover, transcending Angola, the report lends intriguing insights in the problems and opportunities affecting 1930s Sub-Saharan Africa.
The subjects covered here include the enforcement of chibalo; the exodus of black Angolans to neighbouring colonies; the poor state of social services (ex. healthcare, education, etc.); the lamentable state of the white colonists; the challenges and opportunities of agriculture; the neglected and inefficient mining and industrial sectors; the badly-managed transportation infrastructure; falling trade volumes; race relations; the “pernicious” Protestant missionaries who encourage indigenous rebelliousness; the colony’s enfeebled finances; and the need to reform the army establishment in Angola.
Critically, Lopes Mateus did not just call out Angola’s problems (which he does in a ‘no holds barred’ fashion), in every case he either suggests constructive solutions for reforming and improving the performance of government services and industries, or, where he does not possess the information necessary, resolves to intensively investigate the matter towards finding solutions.
To the point, in the present Relatório we see the foundation of the implementation of the Novo Estado’s policy regime in Angola, transforming the colony from a dithering mess into a ruthlessly efficient Apartheid state that contributed greatly to the Portuguese imperial economy. Indeed, while Lopes Matheus’s term in Luanda ended in 1939, the effects of his reforms were largely responsible for Angola’s dramatic economic growth in the 1940s and 1950s. However, the iniquitous nature of this ‘success’ so antagonized the colony’s black majority that it resulted in the indigenous rebellions of the brutal Colonial War (1961-74) that led to Angola’s independence in 1975.
The present report is an original indigo typescript, of which only a few examples would have been created exclusively for the eyes of Governor-General’s office, Salazar and his Cabinet, as well as a handful of top civil servants and military commanders. Notably, the report is singed in manuscript by Lopes Matheus.
Portuguese colonial government documents of this importance almost never appear on the market, and we are aware of the survival of only a single other example of this Relatório, held today by the Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino (Lisbon).
Turning to the text of the Relatório, in the preface (pp. 1-2), Governor-General Lopes Mateus writes that he has “just arrived” in Angola and that this report contains “my first impressions… however, I consider it useful and opportune to clarify to Your Excellencies about what the economic activity was in the year 1934” and “what my opinions and my purposes are regarding those problems of the Colony whose resolution is instantaneous”. The upcoming conference of provincial governors of Angola will allow him to gain “some elements of information and study that I now lack”.
PART I – Operations of Government Services commences with Civil Administration (pp. 3-5), where is it noted that the service employs “competent staff”, although the Governor-General relates that “from provincial governments I have received complaints…which derive from the lack of personnel in the various administrations”, a matter that is made “even more serious” due the “drop in revenue from indigenous tax” (the chibalo head-tax). The service needs to recruit additional competent people to fill vacancies.
While Luanda’s municipal government seems well managed in “all branches of its activity”,
a scandal has recently come to light. Some “irregularities” were noticed by city council employees, such that that the Governor-General sent a Mr. Correa Pinto to investigate. However, on day that Correa Pinto commenced his work, the Secretary of the City, João
de Almeida, was involved in an incident that was either a “suicide attempt or a disaster” while accessing the city archive, supposedly to “divert documents from it”.
Importantly, in Indigenous Business (pp. 5-8), Lopes Mateus discusses the implementation of the new system of chibalo, or the legal enforced labour of black Angolans who cannot pay the annual head tax. He notes that “the Director of Civil Administration Services, who oversees the Indigenous Businesses, is tirelessly enforcing the Indigenous Labour Code and the letter of their service provision contracts. In fact, this attitude constitutes the best way of inculcating the spirit of blacks without work habits, which make them a real productive force and, consequently, a factor of colonial wealth, without doubt the greatest”.
The Governor-General asserts that this is “a fact that I consider to be of a certain gravity” is “the exodus of some indigenous families to neighbouring colonies, the Belgian Congo and Rhodesia especially, determined by a regime of lower taxes and greater facilities offered to them in those countries”. However, this trend had recently been “reduced in intensity” due, in part, to the recent imposition of similar obligations for enforced labour in the Belgian Congo. Lopes Mateus then opines on the “superstitiousness” of the blacks, many of whom have voluntarily returned to Angola from abroad “in great numbers”, due the death of some of their chiefs, misfortunes that they saw as “the punishment for having denied their homeland”.
However, the Governor-General does not believe that these factors will endure in keeping Angolans in Angola, as he does not trust that the Belgian Congo’s enforced labour system will be maintained, while the superstitions surrounding the deaths of the chiefs will soon wear off. The state thus needs to “consider” a new “funding method” for indigenous labour in Angola, similar to that employed in the Belgian Congo and Rhodesia. Also, he vows that “I will make an effort to place intelligent and discerning officials in the circumscriptions and border posts”, so as to discourage immigration, although he is concerned that posting “unprotected employees” in “the most isolated parts of the Colony” might create problems. Lopes Mateus pledges to extend social assistance to indigenous children, by building infirmaries where Portuguese staff will teach indigenous personnel to provide neo-natal care, for the colony has “an appalling [infant] mortality rate”.
Turning to Education (pp. 8-11), the Governor-General highlights that there are not enough teachers in Angola, and that those present work expensive overtime hours. However, a bright spot is a “Specific Plan” to expand and improve education, which includes the building of new schools and the addition of special technical, mathematics and commercial curricula to various existing institutions. Specific training will be offered for fishing and pilotage; agriculture-livestock rearing; surveying; railway operations; and civil administration.
Rather patronizingly, Lopes Mateus asserts that “Indigenous education [will be] given in such a way as to instill work habits in the spirit of the black person, to waken in him a liking for manual work and to make him know the Portuguese language. I believe I can intensify it through missions, schools, workshops and rural schools. Together with the latter, if possible, I will arrange for agricultural foremen, perhaps handing over the task to their chiefs.”
The Governor-General provides a very interesting commentary on Missions (pp. 11-12), meaning the many Christian missions that had long operated in Angola. He opines that the Roman Catholic missions seek to “denationalize” the blacks (i.e., make the more like Europeans), while Protestant missions endeavour to “nationalize” them (i.e., encourage them to embrace their indigenous identities). This matter is not merely one of “doctrinal divergences” but has “serious… political aspects”. Lopes Mateus makes no secret of his feelings, noting cases of “how pernicious the actions of the evangelical missions can be”. He mentions that the Missão Evangelista do Bembe was sued for distributing bibles and other publications printed only in indigenous dialects that did not pass the state censor, and for selling drugs imported from England. Out of fears of similar problems, in 1930, a group of South African Protestant missionaries were denied permission to establish missions in Hupata and Lubanga. In Hupata, a Protestant minister was found to be conducting secret sermons to poor white people who were “predisposed to anti-patriotic influences”, as well as to troublesome blacks who were associated with former Boer missions.
As for Health and Hygiene (pp. 12 – 15), Lopes Mateus laments that “the miserable number of doctors and nurses at the service of the Colony is deficient, in addition to which, shortly after my arrival, I found they were poorly distributed”. He observes that doctors prefer to be based in Luanda and other places with large European populations to benefit their “pulso livre”.
He recalls that during his passage through Ponta Negra (in the exclave of Cabinda), he was informed by an official that the health services are so deficient that people cross the border to receive care at clinics in the Belgian Congo. He does not want to criticize his predecessors, but the health sector in Angola has been badly mismanaged for years, and that not enough medical personnel have been recruited.
Torrential rains have prevented Lopes Mateus from visiting the interior, but he will go there as soon as possible to sort matters out. He claims that the medical facilities in Angola are in a wretched state. Notably, the Central Medicine Depot in Luanda is in such a poor way that expensive medicines are routinely spoiled due to a lack of care. The Governor of Malange Province recently claimed that main hospital there is so short of equipment that they cannot even sterilize utensils or make ice.
Regarding Justice (pp. 15-6), Lopes Mateus believes that the judicial system enjoys a high degree of autonomy and is presided over by “honest Magistrates”. However, the judges “rightly” complain that they do not receive the renumeration they deserve. That being said, he has reservations about the “legal character” of some of their decisions, as they seem to arrive at different resolutions for seemingly similar cases.
Turning to Public Works and Communications Services, Lopes Mateus starts with
Public Works (p. 16), remarking that this sector would benefit from being better managed. The road engineers, following strict “economic criterion…manage, with very small budget appropriations, to take technical action and financial assistance everywhere, in order to meet the most urgent needs”. As for Ports and Railways (pp. 17-8), they are the “most important factors in the promotion of Angola”, and thus “improving and equipping them properly represents a valuable service rendered to the resurgence of the colony”. However, while the “Administration of Ports and Railways of the State has been done diligently and intelligently”, better organization for meeting the needs of industry should to be implemented, per a 1934 report. Concerning Roads (pp. 18-20), it is revealed that many have been destroyed by recent torrential rains. The roads need to be rebuilt and improved, and the Governor-General promises to create a new autonomous body to manage the roads more efficiently and safely. However, in what Lopes Mateus calls “demonstrations of foolishness”, in many places, road works and the locating of new roads have been done to serve the whims of local landowners, to the detriment of the greater good; this must end. Moving on to Post Offices, Telegraphs and Telephones (pp. 20-1), it is noted that while the department is functional, there are many inefficiencies, as well as disagreements amongst the staff, that need to be corrected by stricter management. As for River Communications (p. 21), the Governor will investigate how they can be better integrated to serve railways and ports.
The coverage of Economic Development commences with a discussion of Agriculture (pp. 22-4), where it is noted that there have been improvements, due to recent reductions in bureaucratic red tape. However, the “limited budget allocations do not allow for a greater development of technical action, the field of scientific experimentation and assistance to farmers”. Yet, the Agricultural Services administration will “satisfy the most salient needs” for growing corn and cereals, having recently distributed 5,000 tons of seeds. Statistical analysis reveals that “agricultural production represents the main element of the Colony’s economic life, on which the balance of payments and the progress of the Colony depends in most part”, such that the Governor-General will “dedicate all care to it”, to enlarge production. This can be accomplished by moderating the costs of transport, guaranteeing markets, and lowering the costs of production. Transport costs are a particular problem, as it has been revealed that is not economically practical to grow maize more the 50 km from railways, rice more that 100 km, and cotton more than 300 km from railway lines.
Lopes Mateus remarks, approvingly, that the “indigenous people have been trying to acquire knowledge” about agrarian improvement practices and are “voluntarily” trading their “free work” for the “teaching of technicians”.
As for Livestock management (p. 24-6), the Governor-General reveals that Angola has seen an “improvement of the livestock mass”, which “represents one of the most valuable elements of wealth in the Colony”. There are problems, in that the leadership of the department is being investigated for maleficence and there are disputes between different sectors of employees. While veterinary care is seen as very good, three is a shortage of vaccines, due to a lack of lab technicians. This may only be resolved by the recruitment of very expensive technicians from abroad.
Focusing upon Colonization (pp. 26-8), meaning the settlement of white Portuguese people in Angola, Lopes Mateus notes that much has recently been written in the media and in literary works, although this has tended to follow “a sentimentalist or patriotic vision” that “lacks the exact sense of realities… born of hard experience”. In truth, for many colonists the going has been very hard, as the Governor-General recalls “the lamentations of many whites [who] come to me, transformed into miserable beggars or claimants for public employment, to enjoy the shadow of the impoverished budget”, as few “private activities” have proven viable.
The Governor-General believes that “the experience of the four colonization nuclei [being Quibala, Lépi, Humpata and Bié], established here by the State, led to results of obvious disaster. Unsuitable terrain, or difficulties of cost of transport, or poor choice of colonist, or all these evils together, originate little more than misery and sad examples of colonization incapacity”. Lopes Mateus pledges that he will follow new plans to create agrarian settlements near the Benguela Railway, to alleviate the transportation issue, but the right “choice of settlers” still needs to be made if success is to be possible. He suggests recruiting colonists from the more rugged parts of Metropolitan Portugal, namely “people accustomed to transforming uncultivated mountain ranges into productive soil”. Moreover, due to their own “hard work” these people will remain “tied the land”, so will not abandon the colonial settlements. The Agricultural Service manages the colonies, but their efforts have been hindered by the fact that they have not ensured that the settlers grow the right kinds of crops to be economically marketable, either locally or internationally.
Regarding Surveying (pp. 28 – 9), operations were “functioning regularly, although they suffer from a lack of personnel and study material”. However, recent budget increases should yield improvements. Turning to Industry and Mines (p. 29-30), this sector has progressed marvelously, with “the Colony’s industrial development accelerating year to year”, even though the state has not made any adequate laws, statistical surveys, or given technical assistance in any meaningful way. The Governor vows to make up for these deficiencies. Some helpful immediate measures include lowering the costs of alcohol gasoline and renewing the charter of the Angola Petroleum Company.
As for the Public Security (pp. 30-4), Lopes Mateus notes the situation in Angola is “one of tranquility and peace.” Budgetary constraints dictate that the “military garrison must be reduced to what is essential to guarantee our right to sovereignty, compensating for the reduction in personnel… with the use of modern and improved material” while still ensuring “a reduction in budgeted expenditure”. Some military units will be disbanded with others new ones created, such as an engineering company, an aviation squadron and a health corps.
The Governor-General proposes to increase the mandatory military service period for indigenous Angolans, from 2 years to 4 years. First, modern equipment and processes require far more training than before, such that today many native troops are discharged as soon as they learn their tasks. Second, recruitment operations are not yielding as many indigenous troops as before, such that we need to hold on those we have a little longer.
Lopes Mateus wants to create special “military instruction centres” in the places in Angola with the highest European populations (being Luanda, Benguela, Mossâmedes, Lubango, Nova-Lisboa). The training methods should emulate thosr which General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck oversaw in German East Africa before and during World War I (i.e., creating light guerilla warfare units, which proved incredibly effective against the British and Portuguese). He further asserts that instead of sending a European brigade to Angola from Portugal, as has been proposed, training a local brigade composed of black soldiers would “achieve better results” for the same expenditure. The endeavour would only require specialist officers sent from Portugal to command the brigade, providing skills in infantry and artillery, engineering, aeronautics, healthcare and military administration. Moreover, Lopes Mateus opines that European troops are of limited use in Africa, as they generally cannot cope with the climate and the lack of hygiene.
PART II – The Treasury (pp. 35-7), Lopes Mateus states that Angola has seen a reduction in public revenues, although cuts in spending have countered this, keeping the colonial budget in the black. The Governor-General pledges to adamantly pursue a strict regime of austerity for this year, rejecting all requests from Portugal and the colonial civil service for additional expenditures, a situation which he concedes has ensured that “much enmity and ill-ill comes to me”. He is pressing hard on all relevant administrators to collect all revenues that the state is owed.
There follows a chart of Angola’s ‘General Revenues’, that shows that the gross ordinary revenues have declined in recent times, with the figures for January-February 1934 being 18,889 Contos (Conto is the term for 1,000 Portuguese Escudos), while January-February 1935 registered 17,019 Contos. Another chart shows ‘Customs Revenues’, which indicates that between 1933 and 1935, these inflows remained stable at round 11,500 Contos for the first quarter of each year.
PART III – The Economic Situation commence with a discussion of Population. Regarding the Indigenous Population (p. 38-9), Lopes Mateus observes that “The indigenous people are the most powerful factor in the colony’s economic progress, not only because of what they produce but also because of what they consume.” It thus follows that the state must pursue a “triple objective”: first, the population density of the indigenous Angolans must be intensified (then it was only a very low average of 2.5 per sq km); second, the indigenous peoples must be made more economically productive; third, the standard of living of the indigenous Angolans must be increased so that they will buy more products.
A key to economic development is the health of the indigenous population. Doctors must be encouraged to leave their preferred urban centres and go treat indigenous Angolans in the countryside, curing diseases and practicing preventative medicine (giving advice on better diets and lifestyles, etc.), although “this will take time and be difficult to apply”.
Concerning the European Population and Colonization (pp. 39-40), Lopes Mateus cites the immigration statistics that show that from 1933 onwards more Portuguese left Angola annually that emigrated to the colony (with about 2,000-3,000 entering per year, with around 300 more than those figures departing per annum).
Regarding Foreign Population and Colonization (pp. 40-1) the Governor-General notes there were currently 1,350 foreigners recorded as living in Angola, while proceeding to categorize them by nationality (ex. 412 Germans, 192 British, etc.) and their geographical distribution.
Lopes Mateus next focuses upon Economic Production, and commences with Agriculture. Regarding Production by Crop (pp. 43-6), Mateus Lopes says that it is difficult to predict yields in the short term, due the effects of the ongoing locust plague. The upcoming harvests of coffee, maize, cotton, and sugar promise to be robust, although the yields of rice and casava will be desultory. The locusts will adversely affect the wheat crop, although to what is extent is unknown.
Lopes Mateus comments briefly (pp. 46-7) upon Indigenous Labour; Agricultural Development, and Possibilities of Developing Indigenous Production. He provides a more in-depth treatment of the matter of Agricultural Credit (pp. 47-9), whereupon he notes that currency fluctuations and fraudulent property evaluations have led to many problems with the system, such that more central regulation is necessary.
Focusing upon Livestock, Lopes Mateus commences with the Livestock Wealth of Europeans and Indigenous Peoples (pp. 49-51), whereupon he notes that while a disproportionate amount of the beef and dairy cattle in Angola are owned by Europeans, many of these herds are managed by indigenous people, such that the level of European ownership is hard to determine. However, the majority of the cattle in the colony is owned by the indigenous people, accounting for 250,000 head of cattle. As for Livestock Development (51-2), the state’s zoological services should be strengthened.
Turning to Fishing and starting with the Fishing Industry; Economic and Social Conditions (pp. 52-3), it is noted that the sector is concentrated in the Mossâmedes Province of Southern Angola, upon which Lopes Mateus will soon submit a detailed report. He notes that the export level of dried fish has recently remained stable, while the exports of canned fish has increased considerably, and that there are now 6 fish canning plants in the colony. As for Quantities and Varieties Caught; Local Prices (pp. 53-4), Lopes Mateus notes that is it impossible to give reliable statistics until he makes an investigation of the matter, he believes that the statistics for previous years are dubious. On to Export; Prices; General Conditions (pp. 54-5), it is known that in 1934 Angola exported 500 tons of canned fish, although the dried fish export levels were considered desultory.
On the subject of Industry, the treatment commences with Industry Already Established and Installed Again; its Production; New Works (pp. 55-9), where Lopes Mateus questions the veracity of the statistics published in the official government reports for 1933. He proceeds to list the industrial complexes operating in Angola, categorized by location and sector. He promises to investigate the matter and will report soon with accurate statistics and an analysis on the colony’s industrial sectors. Lopes Mateus makes brief comments (pp. 59-60) on Professional Education; Professional Census; and the Use of Industrial Credit.
Regarding Commerce, the section starts with Imports (pp. 60-2) and features a chart that records the annual imports into Angola from both Metropolitan Portugal and from foreign lands, from 1929 to 1934. It shows that imports have dropped dramatically, with the figure for 1929 being 305,731 Contos, while for 1934 it is 166,993 Contos, while the proportion of imports from Portugal has increased. The decline is partially attributed to a rise in domestic agricultural production, which ensured that it was not necessary to import as many foodstuffs.
As for Exports (pp. 62-4), a chart records the figures from 1929 to 1934, revealing that exports have fallen, albeit not precipitously. The figure for 1929 is 281,817 Contos and for 1934 it is 236,443 Contos. Also, the percentage of exports from Portugal vs. foreign lands has increased. A good part of the decrease in exports is due to fall in diamond and wheat exports. Recently, the locust plague and unusually heavy rains have depressed exports by preventing produce from reaching ports in a timely fashion. Lopes Mateus makes brief comments (pp. 64-6) on Markets and Trade Credit, and a more detailed commentary on Money Transfers.
On the subject of Transportation, the coverage starts with Railways; Passengers; Goods Transported (pp. 66-71), which features a chart that details the gross tonnage transported annually on each of Angola’s four separate railways (the Benguela, Luanda, Mossâmedes and the Amboim railways) over the last decade. It shows that traffic had increased dramatically on the two most important lines, rising on the Benguela Railway from 172,393 tons in 1925 to 271,430 tons in 1925, while over the same period traffic on the Luanda Railway had risen from 47,514 to 163,374 tons. However, the railway was experiencing serious competition from trucking lines, while the Benguela Railway was largely dependent upon the traffic of copper ore from the Belgian Congo (the line connected the copper mines of Katanga to the port of Benguela).
Anther chart shows the annual gross passenger traffic on each of the colony’s four railway lines from 1925 to 1934. It shows that passenger traffic had dropped considerably along the two most important lines, falling on the Benguela line from 235,443 in 1925 to 157,802 in 1934, and on the Luanda Railway over the same period ridership fell from 134,453 to 72,089. Lopes Mateus identifies the main reasons for the fall in passenger traffic as being competition from motor transport, as well as a fall in passenger traffic through the ports. The Benguela Railway had also suffered a drop in passenger traffic across the Belgian Congo border, as the visa taxes have risen to intolerably high levels, while transport taxes are also high. The Governor-General resolves to study the problem so as to suggest improvements.
Moving on to Lines of Trucks; Passengers; Goods; Transported (p. 71), Lopes Mateus notes that no studies have been done regarding the industry whatsoever, so no reliable statistics exist, although it is obvious that the sector is growing, as it is taking business from the railways.
Turning to Navigation and Ports (pp. 71-5), the coverage starts with a chart recording the annual long-haul shipping traffic from Angola’s six main ports (Luanda, Lobito, Porto Amboim, Mossâmedes, Sazaire and Benguela), for the years 1930 to 1934 inclusive, and dividing the statistics between Portuguese and foreign vessels. Portuguese shipping traffic had fallen markedly, for example, Luanda’s Portuguese traffic declined from 124 ships in 1930 to 108 in 1934, although shipping out of Lobito increased from 96 ships in 1930 to 143 in 1934. Another chart shows the tonnage and value of imports flowing into Angola’s main ports. These figures show a decrease, for instance, in 1930, 49,845 tons of goods came into Luanda, while in 1934 the figure was 40,494 tons. As for Exports, the situation was more complicated, as while tonnage increased from 1930 to 1934 in Luanda, over the same period it fell in Lobito and Benguela. Lopes Matheus ends the section by discussing the incipient trading ports of Novo Redondo and Porto Amboim.
There then follows 5 statistical tables (4 folding), placed between pages 75 and 76. The first of these shows the annual tonnage and values of numerous Angolan key exports for the years 1933 and 1934, listing all kinds of commodities and agrarian produce. The most valuable category of exported goods are diamonds; in 1933 Angola exported 70,425 Contos worth of diamonds, while in 1934 this figure was 63,783 Contos. Overall, the value of exports fell a bit, recording at total of 242,258 Contos in 1933 versus 231,628 in 1934.
The next chart records the annual tonnage and values of produce sold at Angola’s street markets from 1929 to 1934, sectioned by commodity, listing all kinds of items, including exotic woods, cheese, fruits, gasoline, etc. It records that market trade fell in value from 41,813 Contos in 1929 down to only 18,075 Contos in 1934, creating a disturbing picture of the local economy, indicating that the Great Depression was striking Angola hard.
The next chart lists the value and tonnage of annually imported items that Europeans in Angola need but which Angola does not produce. It shows that these values had fallen from 1929 to 1934.
After that, there is a chart listing the values of imports for direct consumption, in 1933 and 1934. The final chart shows the percentages of Angolan trade with named trading partners (both imports and exports) for the years from 1930 to 1934 inclusive. Angola’s largest trading partner is naturally Metropolitan Portugal, although Britain, the USA, Australia, and Belgium (because of the Belgian Congo) are also significant.
PART IV – Political and Social Situation, commences with Public Order (pp. 76-7), whereupon lopes Mateus asserts that “the most absolute peace has been maintained throughout the Colony”. Moreover, he relates that the “people are as predisposed as possible to welcoming… the men Government with sympathy”. While the foreigners in Angola are generally highly respectful of Portuguese authority, there has recently been rumours of guns having been clandestinely landed in Angola destined for German immigrants; this needs to be investigated.
Concerning Relations with Indigenous Peoples (pp. 77-9), Lopes Matheus claims that “Relations with the natives can be considered good” although there was, in Forte Republica, Malange Province, a “little incident” where local showed signs of disrespect to our people. He considered sending a “military outing” to “finish off” the perpetrators but decided that this was not worth the effort. Also, the people in the region of Bibala, Huila Province, are “somewhat restless”, and this concerns the local governor.
However, Lopes Matheus believed, based upon information from “reputable sources” that the people in Bibala have been the victims of unjustifiable “persecutions”. He blamed this on Europeans colonists of the “lowest moral stature”, and who have defied all efforts to curb their behaviour.
As for Social Issues concerning the European Population (pp. 79-80), the “railway workers” are the “most restless” of the white settlers, although they have “not concern with political or social matters”. However, they can be pacified by involvement in “sport games”, which the Governor-General encourages. There have also been problems with unionized fishermen in Mossâmedes.
PART V – Miscellaneous Matters (pp. 81-5) concludes the ‘Relatório’, and glances at issues such as Retired Employees; Grasshoppers attacking crops; and Land Owned by the Angolan Government in Banana (a port in the Belgian Congo). The sign-off reads (p. 85) “Residencia do Governor Geral, em Luanda, 30 de Abril 1935. O Governador Geral, [Signed in manuscript:] António Lopes Mateus.
References: Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino (AHU): L 5725; Samuël COGHE, ‘The Problem of Migration: Depopulation Anxieties, Border Politics and the Tensions of Empire’, in Population Politics in the Tropics: Demography, Health and Transimperialism in Colonial Angola (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022), pp. 206-243, esp. p. 228.