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Tribal Folk Music or Angolan Colonial Musical Heritage? A Critical history of the Missão de Recolha de Folclore Musical do Museu do Dundo, Diamang, 1950-1960s

Cristina Sá Valentim

INET-md, CRIA, Coimbra

Pour citer cet article

Valentim, Cristina Sá, 2019. “Tribal Folk Music or Angolan Colonial Musical Heritage? A Critical history of the Missão de Recolha de Folclore Musical do Museu do Dundo, Diamang, 1950-1960s”, in Bérose - Encyclopédie internationale des histoires de l'anthropologie, Paris.

URL Bérose : article1703.html

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Publié dans le cadre du thème de recherche « Histoire de l’anthropologie et archives ethnographiques portugaises (19e-21e siècles) », dirigé par Sónia Vespeira de Almeida (CRIA/NOVA FCSH, Lisbonne) et Rita Ávila Cachado (CIES-IUL, Lisbonne).

The Folk Music Collection Mission [1] was conceived by Diamang, the Diamond Company of Angola, [2] from the 1940s to the 1960s, during Portuguese colonialism in the northeast of Angola, in the Lunda District [3]. The Mission was created within the ethnographic scope and spirit of the Dundo Museum [4] to preserve and study “authentic”, “pure” and pristine African traditions and knowledge which, from the point of view of the Museum, were in danger of extinction as a result of European colonization. At the same time, this Mission was entangled with the scientific colonization of Angola, that is, a cultural strategy used as a tool to colonize the African people, or more precisely, to legitimize the colonial domain of Angola after the Second World War, and to better manage the African workforce through the regulatory power of their own native traditions. The Dundo Museum holds an ideological, cultural and scientific agenda that combines several dimensions : the preservation of traditions facing extinction/annihilation owing to Western modernity ; the production of scientific knowledge ; and the control of social dissidence and resistance to the colonial regime by keeping the African population in line with traditional native values. Based on scientific colonialism (Porto, 2009), the museum curator, José Redinha, said in 1950 :

[…] the development of folklore and other traditional and artistic aspects or others of interest have considerable importance as normalizing elements of native customs, restraining the modern trend of those dancing [5] kinds of dances and other amusements which are pernicious for social balance and discipline (UC/AD RAMD, 1950 : 15)

This kind of discourse is rooted in the European context where the search for a ’popular culture’ of a rural, traditional and pure nature – folklore – aimed both to preserve the ancient ways of life of a people, and also to highlight, by contrast, the paradigm of Western modernity rooted in ideals of Reason, Civilization, Nation, Progress, Industrialization, Technology and Science (Bendix, 1997). In this regard, popular cultures were transformed into folklore not only to study and “save” traditional cultural material and pristine ways of living, but also to maintain authoritative modern regimes through the containment of people within their own traditions, aiding a homogeneous and peaceful modern construction of the Nation. This process of folklorization also occurred in Portugal during the fascist regime of the Estado Novo and was consolidated in the 1930s and 1950s. The search for national unity implied mapping ethnographic diversity and valorizing regional specificities (Alves, 2007 : 63, 90). In this process, the Portuguese state turned to the countryside – a repository of the living and idyllic past – and encouraged, for example, the organization of local folk groups, structured and programmed in detail according to the “authentic traditions” of the Portuguese people (Vasconcelos, 2001 : 403). This policy aimed to eliminate all symbols of the “rhetoric of agitation” from the working-class movement in the late 1930s to legitimize the authority of the Estado Novo, in order to implement social discipline and to celebrate the idea of ​​a national identity (Castelo-Branco and Branco, 2003 : 11). [6]

In colonial contexts, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa from the late 19th century, African cultures were transformed into the category of ‘native folklore’ by following the same logic. But in those contexts, particularly those in the Lunda region, the processes involved issues of knowledge, time, social classification, scale and modes of productivity. This was necessary in order to highlight the racial and cultural superiority of the West as the civilizing agent and to legitimize colonial rule over subaltern African populations (Santos, 2002 : 247-248), becoming “two sides of a single coin” (Hall, 2001 : 278). Those colonial and ethnographic practices implied the so called ‘invention of tradition’ that reinvented African cultures as homogenous (without complexity), primitive and relegated to a historical past where colonial modernity was absent. Thus, ‘traditional’ black African societies were racialized and controlled by colonial rule making a link between the rhetoric of ‘authenticity’ and primordiality, and exoticism, tribalism, primitivism and practices of economic and human exploitation (Wolf, 1982 ; Clifford, 1988 ; Ranger, 2002 ; Naithani, 2010). In that attempt, African cultures were to be ethnographically studied and preserved by the Dundo Museum, and imagined as “indigenous” folklore – by which I mean traditional, tribal, pristine, static, pure and exotic knowledge and culture – to, paradoxically, be set apart from Western colonial and capitalistic modernity, and to restrain – as José Redinha suggested above – “amusements which are pernicious for social balance and discipline” (UC/AD RAMD, 1950 : 15).

In that sense, it should be noted that José Redinha was the ideal person to assume the role of curator of the Dundo Museum, a position which he held between 1942 and 1959, becoming a central figure in the process of folklorization of Lunda and in the history of Portuguese anthropology. First, Redinha was a profound connoisseur of the local African people and was not totally unknown to the native communities. This was partly because of his previous experience as a colonial official at the Chitato Administrative Post near Dundo, which provided him with knowledge of the various native languages ​​and made it possible to have contact and intimate relations with the traditional chiefs (Sobas) (Porto, 2009 : 47). Also, the ethnographic collection campaigns that Redinha had been carrying out for the museum had fomented relations of proximity with the local populations and gave him ethnographical knowledge about Angola. Moreover, this practice had resulted in a personal collection of objects, watercolours and drawings that prompted the invitation from the first General Director of Diamang in Lunda, the engineer Quirino da Fonseca (idem : 47-48). All these reasons would thus qualify him to assume the position of curator of the museum. As a way of deepening his anthropological knowledge, in 1945 Redinha took an internship in the Museum of Ethnology in Lisbon, visited exhibitions, museums and the personal library of the Diamang Administrator José Vilhena, which was specially dedicated to colonial explorers, took some lessons from the watercolour master Alberto de Sousa and attended prehistory and ethnology classes at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Lisbon (Porto, 2009 : 57).

To better understand these complexities of colonial domination in Lunda which were carried out through the transformation of African culture into folklore, it is important to know more about Diamang and its place in northeast Angola.

Diamang was created in the northeast of the Lunda District in response to national economic fragilities and ambitions, following the intensification of political, ideological and European interest in African territories from the late 19th century onwards. After the discovery of diamond deposits in the basin of the Kasai River in 1912, Diamang was founded in 1917 with funding from Portugal, Belgium, France and the USA, [7] which is revealing of the increasing importance of capitalist attitudes to sustaining the Portuguese Empire.

The region of the Lunda District (created in 1895) was inhabited by several ethnic communities, namely the Cokwe people and related communities, all descendants of a large migratory movement that came from the Ruwund [Lunda] State in Katanga towards the west of central Africa, beginning in the 17th century (Fernando, 2013 : 35). Portuguese colonial domination had to overcome long, strong resistance, and only gained ground in Lunda at the end of the 1920s (Porto, 2009 : 7-8). Diamang’s engagement with local communities was achieved largely through forced recruitment to work in the diamond mines.

In the Lunda District, the recruitment of contratados [contract workers] was carried out by Diamang in villages far away from the mining areas, namely from the present-day South Lunda or from southwest, south or northwest of the present-day North Lunda. With the help of Chefes do Posto Administrativo (colonial officials), Sobas (traditional chiefs), cipaios [8] and capitas, [9] all manpower was subject to compulsory recruitment and transported on trucks (from 1948 on) to do at least one period of contract labour. At the end of that contract period – which legally could last eighteen months, even if workers might stay as many as twenty-four months or more doing multiple contracts, willingly or by coercion (Cleveland, 2008 : 52, 230-231) – they could become local residents by working in other of Diamang’s services, or return to their villages and possibly go back later for another period of contract labour after a rest period. They could bring their wives with them, who would also work in cafeterias and mine camps as cleaners and cooks, and under the forced labour regime as field labourers on lavras (plantations) and Diamang farms in order to feed all the population under Diamang’s colonial rule [10] (Fig. 1-2).

Fig. 1 Um grupo de trabalhadores contratados [A group of contract workers], 1948.
Source : Diamang Photographic archive, Minho University, Nogueira da Silva Museum, “Indigenous Assistance Folder” 15-C, Photo nº 8134. © Museu Nogueira da Silva/Universidade do Minho

To keep the workforce healthy and under control, but also for Portuguese influence to endure in Africa, Diamang created an ethnographic museum in 1936 along with hospitals, churches, schools, bridges and roads. In a national and international context where colonial science was part and parcel of political agendas, it was from the Dundo Museum [11] that Diamang organized a set of ethnographic collection campaigns, exhibitions and scientific studies on native material culture and festive performances. In this way, Diamang aimed to preserve African traditions in a “direct manner”, [12] that is, instilling cultural habits of appreciation of traditions by engaging people in festive exhibitions of native folklore and the recognition of their cultural value by the Europeans, in the hope of obtaining immediate results. So, as well as the collection of objects, in 1943 the Museum created the Museum Village, [13] which had a site – the Folk Yard [14] – for staging performances of ‘traditional rites and festivals’ by the Native Folk Groups [15] organized by the Dundo Museum. These groups aimed to entertain international visitors to Lunda, showing the colonial effort to ‘civilize’ the ‘non-civilized’ people (Fig. 3), particular those under the Estatuto do Indigenato (Native Status).

Fig. 2 Camequesse – Mulheres de contratados, trabalhando nas lavras [Region of Camequesse – Wives of contract workers, working in the plantations/fields],1954.
Source : Diamang Photographic archive, Minho University, Nogueira da Silva Museum, “Social Assistance” 18, Photo nº 14570. © Museu Nogueira da Silva/Universidade do Minho

This social-legal status lasting from 1926 to 1961 defined the Indígenas as the non-white people in colonial society who lacked European cultural habits and thus had no access to Portuguese citizenship. In Angola, these Indígenas served as forced labour for state or private agencies. Thus the designation of Indígena meant not only someone native, but also não civilizado (non-civilized person) and who had no citizenship rights. Despite its rhetorical nature, the ‘Civilizing Mission’ was also used as an argument by state or private enterprises to legitimize the coercive and compulsory practices of indigenous labour (Cruz, 2005 : 155). More precisely, the idea was that native labour was at the same time a moral obligation and a duty of the Portuguese Colonial Government – a kind of imperial “benevolence” and “inevitability” – to improve local living conditions (Jerónimo, 2010 : 57, 68, 75).

Fig. 3 “Visita de Sua Excelência o Embaixador de Inglaterra” [Visit of his Excellency the Ambassador of England], 1958.
Source : Diamang Archive, Coimbra University, Box nº 8 “Visitas” [Visits], Photo nº 18468. © Universidade de Coimbra

Within this context, together with the increasing difficulty which the Dundo Museum found in preserving ‘authentic traditions’ and the international context of decolonization after the Second World War, the museum began to collect African “authentic” songs and dances in areas far from the urban space, such as Dundo, that were, supposedly, not yet ‘contaminated’ by Western, ‘civilizing’ colonial action. In that sense, complementary to the “direct manner”, the Mission was understood by the company as an “indirect manner which represents a last recourse” [16] of preserving and revalorizing African traditions, as well as controlling the African communities. Although this activity began in 1949 with an invitation to the Portuguese ethnomusicologist Professor Artur Santos, systematic expeditions only began in 1950. They continued until the end of the 1960s under the leadership of Diamang employee Manuel Pinho Silva who had previously helped Professor Artur Santos and was working at Emissora do Dundo (Dundo Broadcasting, known as Radio Diamang) and in the African manpower division. Also, the whole process of collecting and verification of the ethnographical data, as well as all the decisions that were necessary to take around the Mission, was carried out not under the authority of José Redinha but between Pinho Silva at Dundo, Ernesto de Vilhena, the Diamang Administrator and his son, José Vilhena, the Director of the Cultural Services of the company in Lisbon. Instead, José Redinha took over folklorization in the Dundo region through the organization of native folk groups and the collection of material culture for the museum.

The Mission recorded around fifteen hundred songs over seven campaigns conducted mostly during the dry season (cacimbo) ​​in villages near Cuando Cubango, and in the Moxico and Lunda Districts (Fig. 4). [17] Pinho Silva travelled together with other male employees and indigenous staff including cooks and drivers, and with his wife Maria José Gouveia Reis, beginning in 1954. However, the Mission encountered several adversities during the campaigns. In addition to the hard climatic conditions and the traffic on the ground, African ’traditions’, imagined as immutable, crystallized in the past and pure, did not exist, which demanded a reinforcement of the collaboration with the African communities.

Fig. 4 Colonial Map of Angola (1961) and the spot of the Folk Music Collection Mission.
Scale 1 : 4000000. The pink color is related to the areas of the collection registred in acetate disc (lacquer disc) ; the red color is related to collection areas registred in magnetic tape ; the dashed refers to areas not yet explored at 1960.
Source : Janmart et al (1961 : 16).

The Mission built camps near villages to receive and audition the best native voices and players brought by their Sobas (Fig. 5). After several rehearsals the sounds which were ideally more ‘primitive’, ‘authentic’ and ‘tribal’ – that is, the percussion rhythm called “batuque” in the colonial imaginary – were selected and recorded, favouring the songs that were part of the great ciyanda festivals (Fig. 6). Ciyanda (or txianda) is a popular Cokwe rhythm that used to be danced to during large festivals in villages where everybody is allowed to dance and sing several songs, usually making huge dancing circles while the men play strong percussion rhythms in the centre with cikhuvu and ngoma drums. [18] So, in the villages where the drums were old and damaged (from Pinho Silva’s point of view ), and “good” musicians were absent, the Mission looked for other instruments and musicians in faraway villages, and might have to hunt antelopes to replace the pelts of the drums. Only after the sound was recorded would the Mission translate the lyrics and verify the “authentic versions” of the recorded songs. The next phase of the Mission was the “writing collection” [19] to understand, translate and transcribe the songs’ lyrics and stories (Fig. 7). Also, the collection could imply a greater effort to verify the “authenticity” of the narratives, and in those situations the reviews held in the Mission office at Dundo brought together Pinho Silva, Maria José and several indigenous informants (Fig. 8).

Fig. 5 [Soba [traditional chief] with his population, region of Lóvua], 1954.
Source : Diamang Archive, Coimbra University. Folk Music Collection Mission, Box nº5, Photo nº 15009_5r. © Universidade de Coimbra

Songs were recorded on 78 rpm acetate discs (lacquer discs) and after 1954 directly to magnetic tapes (Fig. 9-10). These blank materials were imported from New York and Germany, recorded in Lunda and mastered in Spain. In total, twenty-one music collections from twenty-one previously defined and separate ethnic groups were recorded. [20] These songs circulated between Africa (Angola and South Africa), Europe and North and South America (EUA and Brazil) through exhibitions of ‘black African art’, musicological studies, concerts, conferences, radio and the press.

Fig. 6 Recolha de Folclore, Camissombo. [Folk music collection, region of Camissombo], 1955.
Source : Diamang Archive, Coimbra University. Folk Music Collection Mission, 6th Report (1955 : 179). Photo nº 15558. © Universidade de Coimbra

The Dundo Museum music collections were part of a large process of Diamang and Portuguese Empire propaganda. For instance, by gifting – and not selling – two bilingual studies of ethnomusicology with the magnetic tapes recorded during the Mission to several Museums, Institutes and Universities, the aim was to dissemble the capitalistic nature of Portuguese colonialism and reinforce the scientific and cultural aspects. These studies were made on the Cokwe songs collected in 1954 and 1955 in Lunda, and were published by Dundo Museum in 1961 when the Colonial War began, and in 1967. It consists of an ethnographic description of the Cokwe people by José Osório de Oliveira, a description of the musical instruments by Pinho Silva and a musicological study made by the Portuguese maestro Hermínio do Nascimento (see Janmart et al., 1961 and 1967). Although these studies conceive Cokwe songs as possessing “high musicality” (Janmart et al., 1961 : 56), the ethnographical and musical interpretation are based on a romantic, racialized and ethnocentric discourse that served an exercise of political propaganda (Valentim, 2012). As the ethnomusicologist Alan Merriam points out, while Pinho Silva’s analysis is extremely well done, Osório de Oliveira’s interpretation is “old-fashioned” and the maestro’s musicological study is guided by a “social and cultural evolutionism” that “seems to be imbued with an antiquarian rather than strictly academic interest”. Merriam called his analysis “naive” (Merriam, 1965 : 177).

Fig. 7 [Written Collection in Camissombo region], 1955.
Source : Diamang Archive, Coimbra University. Folk Music Collection Mission, Box nº6, Photo nº 15573_6r. © Universidade de Coimbra

Drawing on an imaginary that imposed the effort to rescue a native past which was still immune to colonial action, the Mission was faced with some difficulty in collecting ’pure’ songs that had not been ‘contaminated’ : some of the ’native folk songs’ reflected a the colonial circumstances which were experienced and critically commented upon by the Indígenas. In particular, some of the songs recorded comments about the forced labour called cipale in the Cokwe language. [21] Those ‘cipale songs’ denounce sexual abuse perpetrated by colonial officials upon African women, labour violence in mines and on plantations, and punishments of Sobas and their villages. It should be stressed that the musical interpreters were all indigenous (in the sense of having native status) and most of them (or their relatives) had been contratados or voluntários at Diamang. This awareness of African subalternity within the colonial system is also revealed by the fact that the native people perceived their participation in the Folklore Mission as a mandatory collaboration similar to other work for the Company, and because of that they called the Mission “song service”. [22]

Fig. 8 Reuniões para estudo de folclore de povos do Congo Belga. [Meetings for the study of folklore of the people from the Belgian Congo], 1957.
Source : Diamang Archive, Coimbra University. Folk Music Collection Mission, Rectification and Study, Vol. II (1957 : 75). Photo nº 20813. © Universidade de Coimbra

In fact, these popular songs from the Cokwe community (as in Bantu societies in sub-Saharan Africa) are characterized by complex meanings and hidden messages that are expressed by the rhythms, melodies and lyrics. Those songs often combine dance, song, poetry and orature (oral history, tales, proverbs, myths and rumours) ; the cultural production is recreated by the context and the meanings are transmitted through storytelling, labour tasks, ritual, masquerade, divination, magic-therapeutic rites, festival celebrations and religious and witchcraft practices ; and it is characterized by the predominance of percussion rhythm and melodies (Redinha 1988 ; Bastin, 1992 ; Jordán, 1998 ; Guerra-Marques, 2012). These musical expressions are thus not crystallized in a distant past and are often recreated in dialogue with living experience and enacted as part of everyday practices or on special occasions, and thus actively participate in vast social dynamics (at individual, family, communal, economic and political levels).

Fig. 9 Lacquer disc 78 rpm.
Source : Diamang Archive, Coimbra University. Author’s picture, 2015

But most of all, the songs collected by the Mission also reveal messages of hope, African values, advices, anxieties and desires that are entangled with the messages of complaint against the Portuguese colonial regime. Those diverse layers of meaning and ambiguities go beyond the interpretations made by the Mission and are present in various songs that talk about colonial experiences, as we can see below.

Fig. 10 Magnetic tape.
Source : Diamang Archive, Coimbra University. Author’s picture, 2015.

The song “Muambuâmbua” talks about a man named Muambuâmbua who fled from forced labour recruitment and was replaced by another man. This song was collected in 1954 during the fifth expedition of the Mission. It belongs to the QUI collection (meaning Quioco or Cokwe) with the number 185, disc nº 633, track 2 and it was classified as a “festive, txianda dance song” (UC/AD 5R MRFM 1954:174).

Uó iaia Muambuâmbua é, ------------Uó brother Muambuâmbua é,
Iaia Muambuâmbua é,--------------- Brother Muambuâmbua é,
Tângua meza txipale,-------------—On the recruitment day to the cipale,
Canatxinhine é, ------------------ He fled é,

Ai mama Muambuâmbua é,------------ Oh my mother Muambuâmbua é,

Uó iaia Muambuâmbua é, ----------- Uó brother Muambuâmbua é,
Iaia Muambuâmbua é,--------------- Brother Muambuâmbua é,
Tângua meza txipale,-------------- On the recruitment day to the cipale,
Canatxinhine é, -------------------He fled é,

Ai mama Muambuâmbua é,-------------Oh my mother Muambuâmbua é,

Iátuè cumahieto txótxo,-------------In our village we behave like this,
Canatxinhine é,---------------------He fled é,

Ai mama Muambuâmbua é,------------- Oh my mother Muambuâmbua é,
[This lyric’s structure repeats 2 times]

The colonial authorities had to recruit people for contract labour. Muambuâmbua, an inhabitant from the village of Soba Txitopo situated in Txilombe river, a tributary of Lóvua, fled and someone else had to replace him. This is the story of this festive, txianda dance song. The soloist is called Faila and there is a female choir […]. (UC/AD 5R MRFM 1954:173-174).

Accordingly to my Cokwe interlocutors, this song talks about sensitive negotiations and creative strategies of resistance to colonial violence (Valentim, 2018a, 2018b). In particular, this Cokwe song is saying that people were fleeing from a violent labour system and at the same time is advising people to stop doing so. This complexity can be revealed in the verse “Iátué cumahieto txótxo”. In a literal sense, this expression means ‘In our village we behave like this’, as literally translated by the Mission. But in that contextual Cokwe universe and metaphorical dimension, and taking into account the ironic and sarcastic emphasis put on those words by the soloist Faila, it has precisely the opposite meaning, that is : ‘in our village we do not run away’ or ‘we must not flee’. But why is that ?

Fleeing unexpectedly from the labour recruitment to cipale implied, first of all, an indiscriminate search for strong healthy men to replace whoever fled. That would cause different kinds of violence that could have deep repercussions for different parts of the village. In short, in a matrilineal system – where the children (in particular the uterine male nephews and cuisines) are fundamental to the political continuity of the lineage and family property – the absence of men would pose a kinship issue with social, economic and political implications for families and the social balance and autonomy of the entire village. This could be motivated, for instance, by a decrease in births and the breakdown of marriages that would have consequences at the level of social differentiation within gender issues. Also, an unexpected flight could cause a burden for women in the preparation of land for agricultural work on farms and a lack of men for hunting, which together could lead to a poor harvest and a period of famine ; the punishment of the fugitive’s family and their arrest, together with Sobas as a mechanism of public humiliation and labour coercion, blackmail and intimidation ; and the pursuit of undocumented men. So, fleeing wasn’t an individual issue. And if the Soba decided not to deliver any healthy men, or if nobody wanted to go for the cipale, the whole village would flee during the night as a collective act of solidarity and survival. At the same time, this song can be understood as a message that stresses the anxieties raised by new ambitions and social expectations, namely the need to go to cipale in order to return to the village with goods and money as a way of empowering African labourers and their families, especially wives and Sobas.

This song reveals a creative engagement with Portuguese colonialism ; it contains multiple messages, and shows hidden and complex layers of meaning and logic. This song is about the Cokwe people’s experiences with colonial labour policies and how they straddled ambivalent tactics and strategies of compliance with and resistance to colonial rule.

This song, as well as others collected by the Mission, was sung during forced labour in the mines and plantations, during the journey between the cipale and the village, and during the great festivals to receive the “contratados” that survived the cipale and returned to the villages with goods and money. Simultaneously, the songs were part of the festivals organized in the Dundo Museum Folk Yard, and gifted to scientific and cultural institutions in Europe, South and North America and Africa on disc and magnetic tape, and disclosed as inoffensive and ‘traditional’ songs of Angolan folk music, powerless to subvert colonial domination in Lunda. In that process, Diamang turned these songs into a specific representation which highlighted the modern European, the civilized and evolved, just as it naturally relegated the African societies to the condition of silence, passiveness, primitiveness and subalternity. Thereby, the “cipale songs” were recorded by the Dundo Museum as “beautiful” and “authentic” songs, with no subversive power bound by the political insurgency of words, or even sound.

In sum, part of those African songs collected by Diamang were not merely Angolan folk music songs. That is, the songs functioned as a public discursive space in which African people could make sense of their colonial experience and formulate and disseminate a social awareness of their subalternity, which reveals an active African agency and a creative engagement with various kinds of violence imposed by Portuguese colonial rule. Through music, African workers conceived strategies of compliance intertwined with resistance to colonial oppression. Finally, this means that the social categories of colonizer and colonized are a shifting pair and mutually constructed through reciprocal engagements in a tangled, concurrent and ambiguous web of meanings and permanent negotiations, that ethnographic knowledge is the product of collaborative processes, and also that power can always be subverted in both covert and overt ways. The Folk Music Collection Mission was, indeed, the sound of the Portuguese Empire and, at the same time, a plethora of voices of the cipale that expressed African subjectivities, agencies and resistance in a political context opposed to it (Valentim, 2018b). Those songs consist in Angolan colonial musical heritage that reveals a specific common past of Angola and Portugal that must be made known and discussed from a postcolonial, decolonial and anthropological perspective.


Coimbra University, Diamang Archive (UC/AD) (Coimbra) :

Relatório Anual do Museu do Dundo (RAMD) : 1950
5º Relatório da Missão de Recolha de Folclore Musical : 1954
Pasta 84J.5h (1ª) : Museu do Dundo, Investigações Científicas, (Recolha e estudo do folclore musical : Relações com diversos Institutos da especialidade), 15/06/50 - 10/11/69

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[1Missão de Recolha de Folclore Musical

[2Companhia de Diamantes de Angola

[3This text arises from my PhD Thesis on Postcolonial Studies that I concluded in 2018 at the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra (CES-UC) (see Valentim, 2018b). This paper is a version of some sections published in this chapter : Valentim, Cristina Sá (2018a) “Entangled voices, lived songs. Mwambwambwa, a Cokwe song recorded in 1954 at colonial Lunda, Angola” in Pemunta, Ngambouk Vitalis (org.) Concurrences in Postcolonial Research. Perspectives, Methodologies, and Engagements. Stuttgart : ibidem-Verlag Press, 221-264.

[4Museu do Dundo

[5In English in the original.

[6However, simultaneously, the language of folklore was used with an opposite sense to the ethnographic discourse of the regime, and even as a form of political contestation undertaken by ethnographers, musicians, architects, writers and artists. They wanted to value and recover the traditions of the rural population, but not as a symbolic production used to favour state ideology. In this ethnographic production, I can highlight the names of Orlando Ribeiro, Fernando Lopes Graça, Michel Giacometti, Alves Redol, Joaquim Roque, Jaime Lopes Dias, António Joyce, Abel Viana and Veiga de Oliveira, among others (Castelo Branco and Branco, 2003 : 12-13).

[7After independence, this enterprise gave rise to the current Angolan diamonds company, Endiama, and the Lunda District was divided into the Provinces of North Lunda and South Lunda.

[8Cipaio [or Sipaio] is a Portuguese name given to the colonial police force constituted by African men.

[9Capita [Kapita in Ucokwe] is the name given by native populations to the African man overseer of native labour force and recruitment in Portuguese colonialism.

[10Male African workers could be “contratados” and “voluntários”. The contratados were recruited far from the mining region and did the excavation mining work and the harder tasks, while the voluntários, or ‘workers from the mining region’ did lighter tasks in mining and various services at the urban centres. Yet, for both of them, these tasks could be perceived as forced labour. According to conversations held in 2014 during my fieldwork in North and South Lunda, the mining work is remembered as the most violent of all, precisely as equivalent to slavery.

[11Nowadays known as Museu Regional do Dundo [Regional Dundo Museum], this museum reopened its permanent exhibition about the history and material culture of the Cokwe people in 2012.

[12[In English in the original] UC/AD, Pasta 84J.5h (1º) : “’Memorandum”, carta G.218/54 de 05/07/1954, p.2

[13Aldeia do Museu

[14Terreiro de Folclore

[15Grupos Folclóricos Indígenas

[16[In English in the original] UC/AD, Pasta 84J.5h (1º) : “’Memorandum”, carta G.218/54 de 05/07/1954, p.2

[17The materials collected during the expeditions and related to other Diamang activities can be partially accessed at the website ‘Diamang Digital’ ( The ‘Diamang Digital’ project developed, implemented and made available online a digital archive on the archive materials of the ex-Diamond Company of Angola (Diamang) held at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. This website contains photographic and sound collections, maps and field reports from several divisions of the enterprise. ‘Diamang Digital’ was led by Dr Nuno Porto and I worked on the digitization process and web data updates with him and other colleagues. Currently I am in charge of the ‘Diamang Digital’ website back office.

[18Cikhuvu (or ”txinguvo”) and ngoma are drums. The cikhuvu is a large trapezoidal drum made from a single block of wood, with a longitudinal slit at the top and played with two sticks (mixipho) covered with rubber (ulongo) (Redinha, 1988 : 128). Traditionally it was also used as an important way to communicate between villages (idem : 31). The ngoma can be of different types but all of them are made of wood and are mostly played with the hands. Each of them has leather coverings on top (or also at the base) (Redinha, 1988 : 164-167).

[19Recolha Escrita

[20The music collections are : Baluba, Baquete, Bângala, Bena Lulua, Bena Mai, Bena Ngoje, Bena Nsapo, Cacangala, Cacongo, Caiauma, Caleutchaje, Caluio, Camacha, Cambunda, Conhengo, Luena, Luena Cassabe, Lunda, Lunda Muatiânvua, Lunda Ndembo and Quioco (UC/AD, 1-7 R MRFM, 1950-1963). These names are written with the colonial orthography as it appears in the Mission’s Reports. The name “Quioco” is one of the colonial Portuguese names for the Cokwe people.

[21Although this word is written as shibalo in most contemporary studies about colonial Angola, it is txipale [cipale] that appears in the Cokwe-Portuguese dictionary (see Barbosa, 1989 : 405). In Lundas its pronunciation depends on the region : in South Lunda it mainly appears as cipale, but in North Lunda it mostly appears as cibale.

[22UC/AD, Pasta 84J.5h (1º) : carta G.218/54 de 05/07/1954, p.3