Albuquerque, Joaquim Mousinho de

(1855-1902)
   Portugal's most celebrated colonial soldier of the modern era, governor and conqueror of the Gaza state in Mozambique. A career army officer with noble lineage, "Mousinho," as he became known to his generation, later helped to shape Portugal's administration and policies in Mozambique, following army service in India. He served largely as a soldier involved in so-called "pacification" campaigns in Mozambique (1890-95) and then as an administrator, where he acted as royal commissioner and governor-general of Mozambique from 1896 to 1898. After he first visited Africa in 1890, the year of the English Ultimatum, the principal part of his career would be devoted to Portuguese Africa, and he was to become a noted authority on African affairs and policies. Appointed governor of the district of Lourenço Marques (today, Maputo) in late 1890, he returned to Portugal in 1892, then became part of the most famous military expedition to Portuguese Africa of the modern era, the 1895 force sent to Mozambique to conquer the African state of Gaza, in southern Mozambique. Albuquerque distinguished himself in this bloody campaign; at the battle of Coolela, on 7 November 1895, Portuguese forces using the novel machine gun defeated and slaughtered the army of Gaza king Gungunyane. Following his appointment as military governor of the Gaza district, Albuquerque grew impatient with the failure of his superiors to give the coup d'grace to the Gaza kingdom by killing or capturing its leader, Gungunyane, who had escaped after the battle of Coolela. With a small force, Mousinho raided his refuge at Chaimite, Mozambique, and captured Gungunyane, who did not resist (January 1896). These bold deeds in the 1895 campaign and the surprise kidnapping of Mozambique's most powerful African leader made Albuquerque a hero in Portugal and a colonial celebrity in several other European states. Among the honors showered upon this unusual soldier was the 1896 double appointment as governor-general and royal commissioner of Mozambique colony. His service as chief administrator of Portugal's second most important African territory during 1896-98 was significant but frustrating. His efforts at sweeping reforms, rejuvenation, and decentralization of authority and power were noble but made little impact at the time. He resigned in anger after his failure to move the Lisbon colonial bureaucracy and returned to a restless, relatively inactive life in Portugal. Unable to adjust to dull garrison duty, after he completed his masterful colonial report-memoir on his African service (Mozambique, 1896-98), Albuquerque in vain sought new challenges. Briefly he served as tutor to Prince Luís, heir apparent of King Carlos I, but his efforts to volunteer as an officer in wars in South Africa and China failed. His idea of a military dictatorship to reform a lagging constitutional monarchy rejected both by his patron, King Carlos, and by much of the political elite, Lieutenant Colonel Mousinho de Albuquerque found life too painful to bear. On 8 January 1902, while on a Lisbon tram, Albuquerque committed suicide with his own pistol. His importance for future colonial policy in Africa was manifest as Portugal made efforts to decentralize and reform administration until 1930. After 1930, his personal legend as a brave colonial soldier who was an epitome of patriotism grew and was exploited by the dictatorship led by Sala- zar. Mousinho de Albuquerque was adopted by this regime, between 1930 and 1960, as the military-colonial patron saint of the regime and as an example to Portuguese youth. The name of the place where he surprised Gungunyane, Chaimite, was adopted as the name of an armored car used by the Portuguese Army in its post-1961 campaigns in Africa.
   See also Carlos I, King; Generation of 1895.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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