Why did European countries try to hold on to colonies when the original reason for being there had passed and the involvement is a burden for all involved. So slip in your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.
This stamp sets The Philatelist record for how many ways Portugal showed that they did not care about Guinea through the stamp issue. Notice that Guinea is just overprinted on a stamp of Macau, another Portuguese country on the other side of the world. Next notice that is the Vasco da Gama 400th anniversary issue from 1898. This version is from 15 years later. Next notice that Portugal’s form of government and currency had changed. Both great reasons for a new stamp issue but instead handled with overprints. Grade F for effort.
Todays stamp is issue CD26, a 10 Centavo on 16 Ries stamp overprinted for the colony of Portuguese Guinea in 1913 on a stamp intended for Macau. The colony also used the same stamp but intended for Portuguese Africa and Timor. There were eight different denominations. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth $1.60 whether mint or used.
The Portuguese first arrived in Guinea in 1452. There was not much land area onshore controlled by Portugal just the trading post at Bassau and a few close offshore islands. The name Guinea is from the Portuguese for black people. The trading was mainly in slaves. There was a hope that some of the gold that came from the interior might pass through Bissau but most stayed in Ghana, then the Gold Coast.
After the end of the slave trade, Portugal sold the rights to economically develop /exploit Guinea to foreign firms. The area did not prove attractive to white colonists. Crops of peanuts and palm oil were exported in small amounts but not in quantities enough to be profitable. The population was growing fast and rice for food was an important crop. Again with this, productivity was quite low and the colony always had large trade deficits.
The colony brought with it a duty to civilize. Starting in 1913, the colonial administration began classifying local African as assimilated or unassimilated. To be assimilated one had to speak Portuguese, be baptized Catholic, and live in the manner of a westerner. Fewer than 10 percent of the Africans qualified. Getting certified Assimilado meant that there was better ability to get jobs and educational opportunities. The Portuguese claimed to hope that the Assimilados would inspire their fellow blacks to join them as sort of junior Portuguese citizens.
Instead the Assimilados lead the independence movement against Portugal. As the ones that inherited the colony after Portugal departed in 1974, they must take responsibility for the lack of progress since. The Assimilados are only a small minority and still live as colonial masters used to, except ever more degraded. As such they are more a connection to the past than the way forward for the bulk of the people who never assimilated. The junior Portuguese citizens proved to be something less than inspiration.
Well my drink is empty and I will open the discussion in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.