However, did this predominant official discourse reflect the truth?Can we believe in this perspective for the Portuguese colonial empire in the period after the Second World War?Is it possible to find such a expressed in attitudes towards marriage that lie hidden in the data of registered marriages recording different colored skins throughout the empire?It is a fact that Portugal had one of the most far-reaching colonial empires in world history and that the Portuguese had a reputation for particularly integrative and intimate relations with the indigenous groups that were colonized.Also, according to the language of its government, the Portuguese people were a cohesive nation, speaking the same language (Portuguese), sharing the same faith (Christianity), working under the same political rule (the Portuguese administration), and taking pride in the same flag (the Portuguese flag), which was flown in all of the national territory on every continent.
As Cunha (1964) puts it: “So, from the beginning we considered Africans as our equals, in this way eliminating all racial discrimination”.
Even scholars and academics shared a good deal of this vision.
According to Boxer (1961), “It is to the credit of Portugal (…) that she made no distinction of race and color and that all her subjects, once they had become Catholics, were eligible for official posts.” Despite abandoning the thesis of a shared religious faith, a Portuguese professor of economics at the Technical University of Lisbon was to write in an academic work: “We have created throughout five centuries the most extraordinary multi-racial, national community of all times, in which merit comes from the value of the human being and not from the color of the skin.
This heritage was still present in the Portuguese empire, made up of a mainland territory in Western Europe, four archipelagoes in the Atlantic (the Madeira Islands, Azores, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe), Angola and Mozambique on the African continent, several territories in India, a special pearl close to China, namely Macau, and the territory of East Timor in the Pacific Ocean.
So, Portuguese territory was comprised of several provinces, beginning in the northern mainland province of Minho (near Spanish Galicia) and reaching all the way to the antipodes, in Timor.