Theses defended

SONS DO IMPÉRIO, VOZES DO CIPALE. Canções "tucokwe", Poder e Trabalho durante o colonialismo tardio na Lunda, Angola

Cristina Sá Valentim

Public Defence date
March 21, 2019
Doctoral Programme
Post-Colonialisms and Global Citizenship
Catarina Martins e Ricardo Roque (ICS - Universidade de Lisboa / Universidade de Sydney)
This dissertation explores the complexities of the colonial relations of domination and resistance arising from practices that had in common African music and forced labour in the Angolan northeast.

This study focus on the songs collected by the "Mission of Folk Music Collection" (1950-1960) of the Diamond Company of Angola (Diamang), with particular emphasis on the evocative songs of the cipale (local African designation for forced labour) recorded during the 1950s within the Cokwe people. These songs, sung by Africans, including forced laborers, were put into the repertoires of the so-called "Indigenous Folk Groups" organized by the Dundo Museum. Recorded on discs and reels in collections of "Angolan Folk Music", these African songs were released between Africa, Europe and America throughout exhibitions, concerts, conferences, musicological studies and also on radio, press and television broadcast. Through these circulations, the Angolan East songs, folklorized in the context of the capitalist colonial relations of Diamang, began to spread outside Africa, in different spaces and at different scales.

The general propose of this study is twofold. On the one hand, the aim is to understand the multiple ways in which the songs collected within the "Mission of Folk Music Collection" participated in the Portuguese colonial system, both extractive and capitalist, seen from Lunda and from the circulations of the recorded songs. On the other hand, it intends to visibilize the experiences and meanings of the African people associated with these songs, from the point of view of the cultural languages of the Tucokwe societies of Lunda. Although subjected to the colonial modes of folklorization, it is argued that the songs of the cipale allowed the Africans to have their own voices within a violent and oppressive reality, in principle, contrary to the expression of their subjectivities. In order to do so, this study critically reconstructs the history of the colonial production of the recorded songs, which contemplates the processes of conception, collection, recording, classification and circulation of songs converted into the colonial collections of Angolan Folk Music; at the same time it recovers, from ethnographic fieldwork and oral history, the meanings and the African uses of the songs within the colonial experiences of the past.

It is suggested that part of these recorded songs, and the process of folklorization that they were aimed at, served both purposes of colonial domination and responded to various interests of African communities. These songs not only functioned as complex tools of colonial domination useful to the Portuguese colonial project, but also functioned for Africans as instruments of agency and, even, of critique of colonial power. The songs reveal a plethora of African ways of participating in the Portuguese colonial capitalist regime of Diamang, denoting various forms of African appropriation and re-signification of colonial oppression and forced labour.

This research uses an interdisciplinary methodology combining an anthropological interpretation and ethnographic research with written, visual and sound archival sources, and oral testimonies of Angolan and Portuguese actors.

KEYWORDS: Angola - Lunda; Cokwe; Diamang - Dundo Museum; Folk Music; Forced Labour - Portuguese Colonialism