Alexandre de Serpa Pinto

Last updated
Alexandre Alberto de Serpa Pinto
AlexandreSerpaPinto.jpg
Born(1846-04-20)20 April 1846
Died28 December 1900(1900-12-28) (aged 54)
Nationality Portuguese
Alma mater Colégio Militar
OccupationSoldier, explorer, colonial administrator
Office Colonial governor of Cape Verde
Term20 January 1894 – 17 January 1898
Predecessor José Guedes Brandão de Melo
Successor João Cesário de Lacerda
Military career
AllegianceFlag Portugal (1830).svg  Kingdom of Portugal
Service/branchMilitary flag of Portugal.svg  Portuguese Army
Years of service1864 – 1890
Rank Colonel

Alexandre Alberto da Rocha de Serpa Pinto, Viscount of Serpa Pinto (aka Serpa Pinto; April 20, 1846 December 28, 1900) was a Portuguese explorer of southern Africa and a colonial administrator.

Contents

Early life

Serpa Pinto was born at the Quinta das Poldras (Tendais) in Cinfães, a Portuguese village on the river Douro. He joined Colégio Militar at age 10. There he became the first student Battalion Commander in 1864, when he joined the Portuguese army and was sent to Portuguese Mozambique. In 1869 he took part in suppressing tribes in revolt around the lower Zambezi. [1]

Exploration

Also in 1869, Pinto went to eastern Africa on an exploration of the Zambezi River. Eight years later he led an expedition from Benguela, Portuguese Angola, into the basins of the Congo and Zambezi rivers. The town of Menongue was named Serpa Pinto, after him, up to 1975.

In 1877, he and Lieutenant Commander Capelo and Lieutenant Ivens, both of the Portuguese navy, were sent to explore the southern African interior. All three had African experience and seemed to be the right age and temperament for the work. They left Benguela in November. Soon after their departure, however, they parted company at Bié, Capello and Ivens turning northward whilst Serpa Pinto continued eastward, gradually shifting his course to the south. [2] He crossed the Cuando (Kwando) river in June 1878 and in August reached Lealui, the Barotse capital on the Zambezi. There he received assistance from the missionary François Coillard, enabling him to continue his journey along the Zambezi to the Victoria Falls. He then turned south and arrived at Pretoria in northern South Africa on February 12, 1879. Capelo and Ivens emerged at Dondo, on the Cuanza River in northern Angola. [3] Serpa Pinto was the fourth explorer to cross Africa from west to east, and the first to lay down a reasonably accurate route between Bié (in present-day Angola) and Lealui. In 1881 the Royal Geographical Society awarded him their Founder's Medal, "for his journey across Africa ... during which he explored five hundred miles of new country".

In 1881 Serpa Pinto published his 2-volume Como eu atravessei a África, translated by Alfred Elwes and published in English as How I crossed Africa. [4] In the same year French and German translations were also published.

Nyasa Region

Alexandre de Serpa Pinto (standing, left) with the survivors of his expedition from Sao Paulo da Assuncao de Loanda to Natal, c. 1879 Alexandre de Serpa Pinto with the survivors of his expedition from Sao Paulo da Assuncao de Loanda to Natal (c. 1879).png
Alexandre de Serpa Pinto (standing, left) with the survivors of his expedition from São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda to Natal, c. 1879

In 1879 the Portuguese government formally claimed the area south and east of the Ruo River (which currently forms the southeastern border of Malawi), and in 1882 occupied the lower Shire River valley as far as the Ruo. The Portuguese then attempted to negotiate British acceptance of their territorial claims, but the convening of the Berlin Conference (1884) ended these discussions. [5] In 1884, Serpa Pinto was appointed as Portuguese consul in Zanzibar, and given the mission of exploring and re-mapping the region between Lake Nyasa and the coast from the Zambezi to the Rovuma River and securing the allegiance of the chiefs in that area. [6] In 1885, Serpa Pinto undertook an expedition in 1885 with Lieutenant Augusto Cardoso as his second-in-command. Serpa Pinto fell seriously ill and was carried to the coast, where he eventually recovered. Cardoso his twenty-five-year-old lieutenant, continued the exploration, visiting Lake Nyasa and the Shire Highlands, but failed to make any treaties of protection with the Yao chiefs in territories west of the lake Malawi. [7]

Britain declined to accept the Portuguese claim that the Shire Highlands should be considered part of Portuguese East Africa, as it was not under their effective occupation. [8] In order to prevent Portuguese occupation, the British government sent Henry Hamilton Johnston as British consul to Mozambique and the Interior, with instructions to report on the extent of Portuguese rule in the Zambezi and Shire valleys and the vicinity, and to make conditional treaties with local rulers beyond Portuguese jurisdiction, to prevent them accepting protection from Portugal. [9] In 1888, the Portuguese government instructed its representatives in Portuguese East Africa to attempt to make treaties of protection with the Yao chiefs southeast of Lake Malawi and in the Shire Highlands and an expedition organised under Antonio Cardoso, a former governor of Quelimane, set off in November 1888 for the lake. Rather later, a second expedition led by Serpa Pinto, who had been appointed governor of Mozambique, moved up the Shire valley. Between them, these two expedition made over 20 treaties with chiefs in what is now Malawi. [10] Serpa Pinto met Johnston in August 1889 east of the Ruo, when Johnston advised him not to cross the river into the Shire Highlands. [11] Although Serpa Pinto had previously acted with caution, he crossed the Ruo to Chiromo, now in Malawi in September 1889. [12] Following minor clashes with Serpa Pinto's force, Johnston's deputy, John Buchanan, declared a British protectorate over the Shire Highlands, despite contrary instructions, although this was later endorsed by the Foreign Office. [13]

Later life

Shortly after this clash with Britain, Serpa Pinto returned to Portugal where he was promoted to the rank of colonel. [1] He was governor general of Cape Verde from 20 January 1894 until 17 January 1898. [14] Serpa Pinto died in Lisbon on 28 December 1900 at the age of 54. His earthly remains were laid to rest in the family grave of António Gomes dos Santos and Francisco de Souza Santos Moreira and their families in the Cemitério dos Prazeres in Lisbon. [1]

Honours

Recognition and honours for his services were not wanting. In Portugal, he was made comendador of the orders of knighthood: Ordem da Torre e Espada, the Ordem Sao Bento de Aviz, and the Ordem de Sao Tiago da Espada; in France the Cross of the Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur was conferred on him; in Brazil he was made knight of the Ordem da Rosa; and in Turkey he was honoured with the Great Cross of the Order of the Medejidie. He received honorary membership and awards from various scientific societies, including membership of the French Académie des Sciences' Astronomy division, and the "Founders' Medal" of the Royal Geographical Society of London. On 24 January 1899 he was honoured by King Carlos I (1863–1908) with the noble title of Viscount.

To honour and remember him, streets and squares in many Portuguese towns and cities were named after him, for example the Rua Serpa Pinto in Lisbon, Porto, Tomar, Évora, Braganca, Torres Vedras, Rio Maior and Cinfães, to mention only a few. In Angola, the town of Serpa Pinto (now Menongue), main seat of the province Cuando-Cubango, was named after him. His name was even given to two ships, and as trade name for products like cigars and biscuits. During the 125th commemoration of the founding of the Sociedade de Geografia de Lisboa, two stamps were issued with a portrait of Serpa Pinto in a prominent place, while a portrait of him also appears on a banknote from Angola. In Cinfães the Serpa Pinto Museum was opened on 20 April 2000, housing a small exhibit dedicated to this famous son of the area. On a small square in front of the Museum is a bust of Serpa Pinto. The house where Serpa Pinto's parents lived in Porto Antigo, Cinfães, on the banks of the Rio Bastanéa (Bestança River), where it flows into the Rio Douro (Douro River), has been transformed into the luxurious Estalagem Porto Antigo and the conference hall there is named after Serpa Pinto. Also the original dwelling and out-houses still stand, but in a neglected state.

He was also portrayed in the 100 Angolan escudo banknote issued in 1956. [15]

In Cinfães was founded the Associação Cultural Serpa Pinto (ACSP), in 2007 published in Diário da República, 2ª. série – Nº. 38 – 22 de Fevereiro de 2008, page 7339. The address is Lugar de Vila Viçosa, Cx Postal 327 4690-906 Cinfães, Portugal. The idea of the Association is to develop cultural, social, scientific, technological and artistic activities in Cinfães, in Portugal, in the C.P.L.P. (Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries) and in all countries interested in the historical course, life and work General Alexandre Alberto da Rocha Serpa Pinto but also contribute to the enrichment, protection and conservation of General Alexandre Alberto da Rocha Serpa Pinto's estate, encourage teaching and research in the areas of Natural Sciences, Anthropology, History and Sociology and to promote culture, defense and conservation of the historical, artistic and cultural heritage of Cinfães, Portugal and C.P.L.P.. It have also an educational function by bringing into being a library, conference facilities and exhibition locale. Furthermore, the Association promote the study the life and work of Serpa Pinto and the era in which he lived in a scientific and inter-disciplinary manner.

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 Chisholm 1911.
  2. Nowell 1947, p. 7.
  3. Nowell 1947, p. 8.
  4. "Review of How I Crossed Africa by Major Serpa Pinto, trans. by Alfred Elwes". Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art. 52 (1341): 55–56. 9 July 1881.
  5. McCracken 2012, p. 51.
  6. Nowell 1947, p. 10.
  7. Newitt 1995, pp. 276-7, 325-6.
  8. F Axelson, (1967). Portugal and the Scramble for Africa, pp. 182-3, 198-200. Johannesburg, Witwatersrand University Press.
  9. Pike 1968, pp. 83-4.
  10. McCracken 2012, pp. 52-3.
  11. Pike 1968, pp. 85-6.
  12. McCracken 2012, pp. 53, 55.
  13. Newitt 1995, p. 346.
  14. "Cape Verde". worldstatesmen.org.
  15. Angola - Banco de Angola 100 Escudos Bank Note Museum

Related Research Articles

Geography of Malawi

Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa. It is wholly within the tropics; from about 9°30S at its northernmost point to about 17°S at the southernmost tip. The country occupies a thin strip of land between Zambia and Mozambique, extending southwards into Mozambique along the valley of the Shire River. In the north and north east it also shares a border with Tanzania. Malawi is connected by rail to the Mozambican ports of Nacala and Beira. It lies between latitudes 9° and 18°S, and longitudes 32° and 36°E.

Chinde Place in Zambezia Province, Mozambique

Chinde is a town of Mozambique, and a port for the Zambezi valley. It is located on the Chinde River, and is an important fishing center. It exports copra and sugar, and had a population of 16,500 in 1980. Chinde lies in Chinde District of Zambezia Province.

Zambezi Major river in southern Africa

The Zambezi River is the fourth-longest river in Africa, the longest east-flowing river in Africa and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. The area of its basin is 1,390,000 square kilometres (540,000 sq mi), slightly less than half of the Nile's. The 2,574-kilometre-long river (1,599 mi) arises in Zambia and flows through eastern Angola, along the north-eastern border of Namibia and the northern border of Botswana, then along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe to Mozambique, where it crosses the country to empty into the Indian Ocean.

British Central Africa Protectorate

The British Central Africa Protectorate (BCA) was a British protectorate proclaimed in 1889 and ratified in 1891 that occupied the same area as present-day Malawi: it was renamed Nyasaland in 1907. British interest in the area arose from visits made by David Livingstone from 1858 onward during his exploration of the Zambezi area. This encouraged missionary activity that started in the 1860s, undertaken by the Universities' Mission to Central Africa, the Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland, and which was followed by a small number of settlers. The Portuguese government attempted to claim much of the area in which the missionaries and settlers operated, but this was disputed by the British government. To forestall a Portuguese expedition claiming effective occupation, a protectorate was proclaimed, first over the south of this area, then over the whole of it in 1889. After negotiations with the Portuguese and German governments on its boundaries, the protectorate was formally ratified by the British government in May 1891.

Harry Johnston

Sir Henry Hamilton Johnston, frequently known as Harry Johnston, was a British explorer, botanist, artist, colonial administrator and linguist who traveled widely in Africa and spoke many African languages. He published 40 books on African subjects and was one of the key players in the Scramble for Africa that occurred at the end of the 19th century.

Shire River

The Shire is the largest river in Malawi. It is the only outlet of Lake Malawi and flows into the Zambezi River in Mozambique. Its length is 402 kilometres (250 mi). The upper Shire River issues from Lake Malawi and runs approximately 19 km (12 mi) before it enters shallow Lake Malombe. It then drains Lake Malombe and flows south through Liwonde National Park where large concentrations of hippopotamus are common along its shores. Between the towns of Matope and Chikwawa, the middle river drops approximately 400 m (1,300 ft) through a series of falls and gorges, including Kapachira Falls. Two hydroelectric dams have been built along the Shire northwest of Blantyre.

Hermenegildo Capelo Portuguese Naval officer and explorer

Hermenegildo de Brito Capelo was an officer in the Portuguese Navy and a Portuguese explorer, helping to chart territory between Angola and Mozambique in southern Central Africa that was unknown to Europeans in the 1870s and 1880s. Alongside Roberto Ivens, he is famous for being the first European to cross Central Africa from coast to coast between Angola and Mozambique.

1890 British Ultimatum British diplomatic ultimatum to Portugal

The 1890 British Ultimatum was an ultimatum by the British government delivered on 11 January 1890 to Portugal. The ultimatum forced the retreat of Portuguese military forces from areas which had been claimed by Portugal on the basis of historical discovery and recent exploration, but which the United Kingdom claimed on the basis of effective occupation. Portugal had attempted to claim a large area of land between its colonies of Mozambique and Angola including most of present-day Zimbabwe and Zambia and a large part of Malawi, which had been included in Portugal's "Rose-coloured Map".

Pink Map Portuguese diplomatic document

The Pink Map, also known in English as the Rose-Coloured Map, was a map prepared in 1885 to represent Portugal's claim of sovereignty over a land corridor connecting their colonies of Angola and Mozambique during the Scramble for Africa. The area claimed included most of what is currently Zimbabwe and large parts of modern Zambia and Malawi. In the first half of the 19th century, Portugal fully controlled only a few coastal towns in Angola and Mozambique. It also claimed suzerainty over other almost independent towns and nominally Portuguese subjects in the Zambezi valley, but could rarely enforce its claims; most of the territory now within Angola and Mozambique was entirely independent of Portuguese control. Between 1840 and 1869, Portugal expanded the area it controlled but felt threatened by the activities of other powers.

Gaza Empire

The Gaza Empire (1824–1895) was an African empire established by the powerful general Soshangane and was located in southeastern Africa in the area of southern Mozambique and southeastern Zimbabwe. The Gaza Empire, at its height in the 1860s, covered all of Mozambique between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers, known as Gazaland.

Maganja da Costa District

Maganja da Costa District is a district of Zambezia Province in Mozambique.

Ruo River

Ruo River is the largest tributary of the Shire River in southern Malawi and Mozambique. It originates from the Mulanje Massif (Malawi) and forms 80 km (50 mi) of the Malawi-Mozambique border. It joins the Shire River at Chiromo.

Sioma Town in Western, Zambia

Sioma is a town on the west bank of the Zambezi River in the Western Province of Zambia. Since 2012 it has been the capital of the Sioma District. The current mayor of the Town is Amani. He initially went there to explore, but during his visit he saved a resident from a wild dog attack, resulting in him gaining popularity in the area. Using this popularity to his advantage, Amani soon entered politics and ran for mayor.

The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1891 was an agreement between Great Britain and Portugal which fixed the boundaries between the British Central Africa Protectorate, and the territories administered by the British South Africa Company in Mashonaland and Matabeleland and North-Western Rhodesia and Portuguese Mozambique, and also between the British South Africa Company administered territories of North-Eastern Rhodesia, and Portuguese Angola.

John Buchanan (1855–1896), was a Scottish horticulturist who went to Central Africa, now Malawi, in 1876 as a lay member of the missionary party that established Blantyre Mission. Buchanan came to Central Africa as an ambitious artisan: his character was described as dour and devout but also as restlessly ambitious, and he saw in Central Africa a gateway to personal achievement. He started a mission farm on the site of Zomba, Malawi but was dismissed from the mission in 1881 for brutality. From being a disgraced missionary, Buchanan first became a very influential planter owning, with his brothers, extensive estates in Zomba District. He then achieved the highest position he could in the British administration as Acting British Consul to Central Africa from 1887 to 1891. In that capacity declared a protectorate over the Shire Highlands in 1889 to pre-empt a Portuguese expedition that intended to claim sovereignty over that region. In 1891, the Shire Highlands became part of the British Central Africa Protectorate. John Buchanan died at Chinde in Mozambique in March 1896 on his way to visit Scotland, and his estates were later acquired by the Blantyre and East Africa Ltd.

Shire Highlands Railway Company

The Shire Highlands Railway Company Ltd was a private railway company in colonial Nyasaland, incorporated in 1895 with the intention of constructing a railway from Blantyre to the effective head of navigation of the Shire River. After problems with routing and finance, a South African 3 ft 6 in gauge railway was constructed between 1903 and 1907, and extended in 1908 to a Nsanje, a distance of 113 miles (182 km) as water levels in the Shire River fell.

The M'Bona Cult is a system of religious beliefs and rituals which is currently restricted to the most southerly parts of Malawi, but which probably extended more widely, both in other parts of Malawi and adjacent parts of Mozambique. The cult is found mainly among the local Mang'anja people and its former extent reflected that people's wider past distribution. It aims to secure abundant rains at the appropriate season through the making of propitiatory gifts at cult shrines, and includes rainmaking rituals in the event of drought. It has been related to a number of other territorial cults among the Maravi cluster of related African peoples which aim to secure the well-being of the people of a particular area secure from drought, floods or food shortages. The cult is believed to be a long established one, although estimates of how long it has existed are speculative, as the earliest definite record of its existence dates from 1862.

Chikunda, sometimes rendered as Achikunda, was the name given from the 18th century onwards to the armed retainers of the Afro-Portuguese owners of estates known as Prazos in Zambezia in Mozambique. They were used to defend the prazos and police their inhabitants. The chikunda of that period are often described as slaves, and originally some were chattel slaves, although the status of those that were soldiers, traders or administrators of parts of the prazo was that of a client or unfree dependent.

The Makololo chiefs recognised by the governments of colonial Nyasaland and independent Malawi have their origin in a group of porters that David Livingstone brought from Barotseland in the 1850s to support his first Zambezi expedition that did not return to Barotseland but assisted Livingstone and British missionaries in the area of southern Malawi between 1859 and 1864. After the withdrawal of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa those Makololo remaining in the Shire valley used firearms provided by the Europeans to attract dependants seeking protection, to seize land and to establish a number of chieftainships. At the time that a British protectorate was established in 1891, there were seven Makololo chiefs of which six were recognised by the government. Five survived to be given local governmental powers in 1933, and these powers continued after Malawi became independent. Although called Makololo or Kololo, after the ruling group in Barotseland in the 1850s, the majority came from peoples subject to the Makololo who adopted the more prestigious name. As, regardless of their origin, they took wives from among the inhabitants of the Shire Valley, their modern descendants have little connection with the Kololo people apart from their name.

Sena railway

Sena railway, also called Shire Highlands railway, Dondo-Malawi railway and North-South Malawi railway, is a railway that connects Dondo, Mozambique, to Chipata, in Zambia. It is c. 1000 km long, in a 1067 mm gauge.

References

Associação Cultural Serpa Pinto

Attribution:

Preceded by
José Guedes Brandão de Melo
Colonial governor of Cape Verde
1894-1898
Succeeded by
João Cesário de Lacerda