I might as well finish the project I started and continue with this thread:
The Berlin Conference of 1885, organized under Bismarck at the request of the Portuguese government, as everybody knows, partitioned Africa amongst the Great Powers (inviting even the US, who didn't send delegates) ostensibly to settle competing colonial claims in Africa peaceably.
The details of the Berlin Conference are not discussed much in this book. But one of the consequences of the agreement was that a would-be African power had to enforce "effective rule" over its claims, or else cede them to another European power who could.
In 1885 Portuguese Angola, with a population of 1500 or so, had the largest white population in Africa between Cape Colony/Transvaal and Algeria. The next largest white settlement, St-Louis, Senegal, had a white population of 200. Every place else was below the low double digits. It looked like Portugal had a good head start, but we know better.
The population in Angola at that point consisted mostly of free-range criminals and an overextended, badly underfunded civilian administration. Portugal had to find a way to increase the white population, or exert full administrative control over the entire colony, or else cede it to Britain.
Unfortunately, no amount of inducements could convince Portuguese migrants to choose Angola over Brazil or Argentina. Angola was hot, disease-ridden, and overrun with criminals and wild Africans. In the 19th century, 650000 Portuguese emigrated to the New World while fewer than 9000 settled Angola.
At this point, the author engages in a detailed reportage of the violent and unsettled nature of the colony in a way I personally find gratuitous. But it evidently is no exaggeration, since the Portuguese themselves at the time believed it.
Portugal's response was characteristic -- exert effective control by establishing new agricultural colonies in the interior of the country, to be settled by even more exiled criminals
! Only this time, not only from mainland Portugal, but also its other tropical colonies, including Mozambique, as well. As the author points out, even the free Portuguese emigrants to Brazil seldom entered agriculture, so this desire for Angola with convicts was sheer delusion. Nevertheless, convicts continued to be sent to Angola's interior (only to run away to Luanda) until Salazar finally cut off funding for the deportations in 1932:
The old system of overseas penal colonization, carried out at random over successive decades and without a firm or well-defined plan, failed completely…
The hundreds of bodies which are annually exported to Angola without utility and the thousands of contos which are spent each year could well be applied in the utilization and exploration of
uncultivated metropolitan lands.
The biggest change in Angola's administration came with the establishment of the Estado Novo in 1930 -- another topic outside the scope of this book. According to the 1933 Colonial Act, Portugal's African colonies, much like Belgian Congo, had to become economically self-sustaining. The tribal Africans were now made to pay for their incorporation into colonial administration. Angola and Mozambique had to provide substantive material benefits for their metropole. And, just as importantly, the Africans living in the interior of colony had to adopt Portuguese cultural norms.
The author judges how well the Portuguese fulfilled these objectives through the following criteria:
1. Did the settlement program (now with free people) attract sufficient long-term inhabitants, and not mere fortune seekers?
2. Did the presence of white settlers increase the economic value of the rural areas? Did it do so at lower cost to Portugal than, say, rural development through African farmers themselves?
3. Did it fulfill a tenet of Lusotropicalism -- the non-violent assimilation of tribal people to Portuguese culture?
The new project could not have had a more inauspicious start. Between 1900 and 1940, only 35,000 Portuguese migrated to Angola, whereas over a million migrated to Brazil, Argentina, and the US (obviously before 1924…) during the same time period.
Furthermore, the people who did settle in Angola were neither professional farmers, nor middle class cohorts with capital to start a plantation, but underemployed urbanites (future degredados…) who settled Luanda and Benguela as mechanics and shopkeepers and who ultimately displaced the assimilated Africans who previously occupied the same economic niche. Even the landless rural Portuguese who were induced to settle in Angola refused farming as an occupation there.
The strong social prejudice held by the Portuguese against farming, least of all in Africa ("only blacks should work in Africa"), combined with poor colonial infrastructure (poor selection of homesteads, rural isolation, high tariffs to imported machinery and spare parts, misallocated credit, etc.) mean that, by 1950, only 2700 whites, less than 10% of the white male population by that point, were registered as farmers, one of the stated goals of colonial policy .
By that criteria, the first two policy objectives of the Colonial Act were failures by the 1950s. The third major objective -- peacable assimilation of Africans into Portuguese culture -- was undercut by the presence of a strict de facto
racial segregation in Luanda and the domineering attitude of the (few) Portuguese landholders in the rural areas . For the most part, however, it was colonial policy undertaken after the 1950s that really eroded Portuguese legitimacy in Angola.
[1.] My personal objection: A nation does not need many farmers to have a successful agricultural policy. Even in 1950, the share of output per farmer meant that having 10% of at least the white male population engaged in agriculture was more than sufficient for self-sustaining colony.
[2.] In the mid 1920s, Angola had no roads or rail lines, and rural people had to traverse the countryside in Boer oxcarts. The Benguela railroad, completed in 1929, was financed 80% with British capital (an important point). Even by 1953, Angola had only 50 miles (ok, 80 km) of paved highways. The Portuguese never considered making large investments in a colony they long regarded as unprofitable.
[3.] The capital that the Portuguese government allocated to a settler (called colon, like the French) to establish a farmstead in the outback was instead used either to open a small shop in Luanda, or otherwise to create a hacienda where all manual labor was unloaded onto hired Africans. The latter labor arrangement was common throughout Africa of the 1950s; however, the Angolan haciendas were never profitable (demonstrated later on in the book), and existed only through routine extensions of credit.