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Mocambo

‘The Portuguese history is not just white, Mocambo may not remain forgotten’.

Around 1500 King Manuel I decided to give the monopoly of slave trafficking in the Portuguese empire to Lisbon. For two and a half centuries circa 10% of the population in the capital consisted of black slaves, performing the hardest tasks. In one of the western districts, next to the Tagus river, between Bairro Alto and  Madragoa – the first African neighbourhood of Europe was born.

It was here that many Africans – enslaved or freed – found shelter. Mocambo – a word in Umbundu (one of several Angolan languages ) meaning ‘place of refuge’ – became in the 16th century one of the most populated neighbourhoods in Lisbon. Away from the white Portuguese gaze, the place was essential for African memories and the preservation of social and religious practices (weddings, funerals)  

Those who lived there worked in the maintenance of Lisbon’s public places. Sweepers, water distributors, whitewashers – preserving the houses, monuments, and sidewalks. The black or mulatto women worked as a maid or ran barefoot all over the capital to sell fish or coal.  

It is from the 16th century onwards that the arrival of enslaved Africans gave rise to physical and social rejection (‘black as coal’, ‘smelly, ‘ugly’) An image of the African slave, as inferior, and subordinate was established. For a long time, looking at black people were looked at as an ethnic group that was not worthy of being studied.


In Madragoa – where the Portuguese tradition was born of covering façades with tiles to protect property from the humidity rising from the Tagus – there are still some reminders of slavery. Next to the Santa Catarina church, is the Cruz de Pau (‘Wooden Cross’), the place of punishment inflicted on the enslaved. Rua do Poço dos Negros (‘Black Wells Street’) was the place where King Manuel had a well-built, where the dead bodies of the enslaved were thrown in.

One of the most remarkable moments in Mocambo happened in 1882 when the Queen of CongoDona Maria Amália I – stayed there along with her entourage. She had traveled to Portugal to pay homage to the king of Portugal but it were the ‘amazing’ African festivals in Mocambo, that caught the attention of the newspapers.

At the same time, the descriptions of Mocambo changed from ‘one of the best suburbs of Lisbon’ to a ‘dirty’ place, full of ‘epidemics’. The neighbourhood began to receive more and more fishermen and Africans headed to other parts of the country, especially after slavery was abolished in Portugal in 1773.

Maps from the late 19th century no longer show any reference to Mocambo. All that remains is Casa Mocambo with an African restaurant and an Art Gallery. A stage for African Lisbon where film cycles dedicated to the black community are organized, as well as theatre sessions and concerts by African musicians. ‘We have such a mixed Lisbon and all we talk about is white Lisbon. I want to change that’, explains the owner Mafalda Nunes.


Enjoy the week            Aproveite a semana                (pic Público/Sapo)











Flag


Historically, flags were used for identification in battles.
The oldest national flag is Denmark’s 13th-century flag with its white cross on a red background. The legend goes that it was sent from Heaven to help the army during the Battle of Lyndanisse in 1219.
It inspired the cross design of the other Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.


Most national flags portray the country’s history, beliefs, and strengths. They are used to show unity and pride, clearly evident during a state visit or international sports events.
 

The color red represents struggle, courage, and bloodshed whereas green depicts prosperity, hope, and agriculture. White signifies peace, purity, and harmony while blue is for good fortune, determination and liberation. Orange stands for sacrifice, courage, and selflessness, and yellow for wealth and energy. 


Portugal’s flag (Bandeira de Portugal) has evolved since the Kingdom of Portugal was formed in 1139.
After the Republican revolution in 1910, the royal colors blue and white and the crown – symbols of the monarchy – had to be substituted.




The painter Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro – brother of the famous ceramist Rafael Bordalo – was tasked with the new design. He chose the colors of the Portuguese Republican Party, representing the hope of the nation (green) and the blood of those defending it (red).



The country’s coat of arms in the center remained as it had been present on most of Portugal’s preceding flags. The five blue emblems on the shield – displayed as a Christian cross – are a reminder of the five Moorish kings (from Seville, Badajoz, Elvas, Evora, and Beja) defeated by Portugal’s first king Afonso Henriques in the 1139 Battle of Ourique.



The five white coins within each emblem represent Christ’s five crucifixion wounds. The seven castles around the emblems symbolize the enemy fortresses  King Afonso captured during the conquest of Portugal’s most southern part – the Algarve – in 1249.  



The flag of the Netherlands is the oldest tricolor. As a state flag, it first appeared around 1572 in orange, white, and blue as used by Prince William of Orange but from 1630 the red-white-blue version became the national symbol. The Dutch tricolor has inspired many flags most notably those of Russia, New York City (New Amsterdam), and Slavic states such as Slovakia, Serbia, and Slovenia.



The best-known flag in the world today is probably the Ukrainian blue and yellow bicolor. The blue on top represents the sky and the yellow stripe stands for fertile land. It was officially adopted as a state flag after World War I by the Ukrainian People’s Republic, outlawed when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, and restored in September 1991, following Ukrainian independence.
The Uranian flag, not only stands for national pride and sovereignty but also for international solidarity with its people.



Enjoy the week                                                          Aproveite a semana




















Tea

The Chinese leaf that conquered the world

There are roughly two ways to say tea in the world. One is like the English expression – thee in Dutch, tee in German or thé in French. The other is a variation of cha – chay in Russian, chai in Swahili or shay in Arabic. Both variations come from China. The words that sound like cha spread across the land, the tea saying spread over water.

The term cha – Chinese for tea – originates from central China and made its way through Asia – along the Silk Road over 2000 years ago – becoming chay in Hindi and Persian.
But the Chinese character for cha is pronounced as te in the Min Nan variety of Chinese, spoken in the coastal province of Fujian.
This te form spread to Europe via the Dutch East Indian Company, who became the primary traders of tea between Europe and China in the 17th century.

Yet the Dutch were not the first in Asia. That privilege belonged to the Portuguese, who didn’t trade through Fujian but Macao, where cha is used. That’s why of all Western European countries only Portugal uses the cha word for tea!

Although it’s fairly commonly known that tea originated in China, it is far less known that it was a particular Portuguese woman, who inspired its popularity in England. Let’s go back to 1662, when Catherine of Braganza – daughter of Portugal’s King John IV – married England’s King Charles II, and became the Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Travelling up north to join her husband, she is said to have taken along loose-leaf tea, that was popular among Portugal’s aristocracy.

When Catherine arrived in England, tea was being consumed there only as herbal medicine and very expensive. The reason for the cost was that England had no direct trade with China and the small quantities the Dutch were importing were so pricey, that only the wealthiest could afford it. Tea became associated with the elite women’s society around the royal court, of which Catherine was the famous centrepiece.

‘The best of Queens, and the best of herbs, we owe
To that bold nation, which the way did show
To the fair region where the sun doth rise,
Whose rich productions we so justly prize.

( Birthday ode to Queen Catherine. Edmund Waller, 1663 )

Aproveite sua semana                   Enjoy your week          (pic 2 qz.com)