85. Register of tributes from Angolan landlords

Biblioteca Pública de Évora: Maniz
Cod. 531, fol. 67v

European colonialism transformed many native populations into king’s vassals. This document shows a copy of the register of a tribute (baculamentos) paid by local landlords (sobas) to the Portuguese Crown in Angola. In January 1621, two of these men went to the fortress of Cambambe (North Angola), offering several tributes for each year. They committed themselves and their heirs to keep paying these taxes. One of them (shown below), Quilonga Quamzumba, was obliged to deliver three slaves, five enzeques of corn cereal and three goats. Another one (in the following page, but not shown here), Samba Ilanga, claimed to be poor so he could only afford to offer one slave or two young men. Despite their local traditions, these populations and their leaders bowed down to practices such as written records of this sort, which compromised their income. This proves how paper-based administration became part of the legal infrastucture employed by European colonisers for the exploitation of native peoples.

(Roger Lee de Jesus)