Issues of heritage in post-colonial lusophone world

Topics: Colonialism, Portugal, Portuguese language Pages: 8 (2880 words) Published: October 7, 2013
Discuss the issues of heritage and culture in the Lusophone post-colonial world, referring to at least two of the following: Cape Verde, Goa, Macau, East Timor.

Within the Lusophone post-colonial world the Portuguese have left their mark on both heritage and culture, be it significant or unsubstantial. The manner in which Portugal went about imposing its culture on the indigenous populations of the places it colonised, had mostly negative consequences and more often than not strangled native cultures. The most prominent aspect of heritage that the Portuguese tried to introduce into their colonies was religion, and they did so mercilessly and aggressively. Many aspects of post-colonial heritage (music, art, architecture, language) would be somehow linked to the influence of the Church. This influence would be found in the Church’s role in many forms of education, the miscegenation and marriage of Portuguese men with local women, the destruction of many buildings concerning indigenous religions and the construction of churches to replace them. Of course other important influences would shape the post-colonial cultures and allow certain aspects of more western life to be incorporated into their own. The influence of Portuguese colonies on each other will also be a determining factor when discussing this topic. Despite the largely negative nature of Portuguese intervention in their colonies there are arguably some positives to be taken from their reign over certain places. It is the subjects of religion, and the somewhat positive results coming from Portuguese reign that I intend to discuss. This is not to say that I support the manner in which these benefits were realised but merely to appreciate their post-colonial nature.

Firstly, the most prominent aspect when evaluating heritage in the Lusophone post-colonial world is religion. In every region they claimed as their colony, the Portuguese encouraged, and usually enforced, the conversion to Christianity and the destruction of indigenous religion where possible. It is ever present in many aspects of the former colonies’ architecture, art, music, and many other forms of culture. It enforced its presence on local populations through the abolition of many indigenous religions and the punishment of those found to continue their unchristian beliefs. So, for example, Goa before colonialism was under Muslim control, but its Religion was Hinduism to which the citizens followed very closely and strictly. As with other parts of the country they followed the manusmriti, which laid out how followers of Hinduism should conduct themselves in most aspects of life. A caste system in society was ever present and dictated the lifestyles of all classes within it. On cementing their rule, Portuguese forces decided to impose Christianity on the population of Goa and to enforce the destruction of temples and other aspects of Hinduism. “Bishop de Dumenas mentioning about the existence of the ‘images of the enemies of the cross’ on the island recommended to the king that it would be a great service to God if the temples on the island of Goa were destroyed and in their place churches built”. (Shirodkar, P, P. 1997) However it was in 1560 that Goa would start to suffer its hardest times under Portuguese rule, as this was the year the Holy Inquisition was initiated. It lasted 248 years, a stretch of time which many believe to be the darkest in Indian Religious History. During this period the powers enforcing the inquisition were ruthless beyond any previous evangelical missions. They terrified the indigenous local population “whose lives fluctuated in their hands, and who, on the most frivolous pretext, could be clapped for all times in the deepest dungeon or strangled or offered as food for the flames of pyre.” (Shirodkar, P, P. 1997) Alongside the horrific acts of torture and the numerous death sentences distributed to those demonstrating the slightest unwillingness to comply with...

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