Football: “The only stage for Africans during the colonial period”

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Nuno Domingos is a researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lisbon, working on the history of Portuguese colonization, specifically in Mozambique during the Estado Novo period.

RFI: French writer Marc Dugan describes the African continent as “A stage where I need a seemingly endless tragedy. The continent does not seem to give any hope of a way out of the pathological history that began with colonialism.” Do you think there are still many highlights about this recent past?

Nuno Domingos: Yeah, fortunately in Portuguese society today, and I think it also reflects what’s happening in contexts, there’s been more and more discussions about the colonial past. These issues are here, it is not the former capital, and it is certainly present in a less visible way in the former colonies. But these issues are still very much alive and it is clear that this colonial past continues in innumerable ways, persisted at times and was most evident in monuments, in built spaces, in buildings, but it is also present in the social structure itself, in the social structure and obviously It is a matter of economic development issues.

African countries, and the Portuguese case is no exception, remained highly dependent on a colonial economy that made their development possibilities very limited. Although many years have passed, and though these states have conquered sovereignty, in the case of the Portuguese, later than the other colonial powers, with three colonial wars, despite all that remains of traces of a colonial state that was colonial, this is not Expressionist, he was extractive and thus specialized a lot in the form of labor exploitation and Portugal, in fact, maintained quite radical forms of exploitation in labor until very late, especially with the use of forced labor until very late, until the 1960s. .

Among the legacies was a completely unbalanced economy. A difficult legacy in terms of organization, which they inherited mainly from Portuguese colonialism.

He talks about social constructions and infrastructure constructions, but can’t we forget about building the psychology of collective trauma?

I think that, above all, there was the inability to talk about these issues for a long time, and that also because the decolonization and the end of empire stems so much from a coup d’état, followed by a revolution in Portugal on 25 April 74. Which means that there was an end to a clearly connected system In this colonial context there was a democratic system. There is an attempt, to some extent, to calm relations, to establish new ones, which involves the construction, for example, of the Lusophone community, with CPLP, an approximate discourse, also diplomatic and later with the construction of some that have to do with economic relations. This past can be a grain in this gear, and for the forces of one side and the other, it is better to have a positive discourse about the past.

How can the persistence of this system and its persistence for so many decades be explained?

The pace of decolonization in other contexts accelerated with World War II, but the fact that Portugal was run by a dictatorship clearly hampered some of the reforms observed in Francophone or Anglophone colonial contexts. The fact that Salazarism prevailed as a model for the organization of state and society made it difficult to change it here and there. Obstacles to change are also associated with the creation of a state in urban Portugal that does not allow the opposition, other parties and unions and which monitors those who have dared to disagree or move and stay too long. There was also the inability of opponents to create another situation.

In fact, without the colonial war, it would have been very difficult to have April 25th. The dynamics of the war itself, and the length of the war, generated a range of discontent, especially in the military apparatus, and clearly led to change. It’s tough, but how long the system will last, maybe longer. Not how long, but the war was helpful in that.

What is the role of popular culture and sports, as I said, in this intersection between the colonizer and the colonizer?

Sport is an observatory for understanding how Africans, in this case in Mozambique, appropriated a range of things brought by Europeans. In the case of football, there is doubt because it is not clear that it was not due to the influence of South Africa that the first footballs reached the outskirts of Lourenço Márquez.

Football allowed us to understand the organization of the urban world. This immediately made it possible to identify racist forms of social organization because the sport was organized in a discriminatory and separate manner due to the existence of competitions for whites and tournaments for blacks. At the same time, this allowed us to understand how Africans organize themselves, form clubs and associations, organize their competitions. They create local shows and performances for local audiences. How do they fit in and adapt to this modernity?

In fact, sport is also fun because it has become something very popular and has ended up giving Africans a completely unique stage. No activity in the colonial context has had such an impact as football, giving general importance to Africans. This is unusual because Estado Novo never admired the popularity of football, did not trust its ability to rally, but from the 1950s onwards he realized that he could not stop and understand that football has not only a national dimension, but an international dimension and given an international dimension. drop the country.

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