WATCH: Walking in the footsteps of African Royals on an island in Portugal

2019-08-12 12:21 - Gabi Zietsman
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Do you know the story of the four African royals exiled to a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean?

To Mozambicans, Gungunhana was an anti-colonial hero in the fight for the country's independence. But after his defeat as the last emperor of Gaza, he and three other royals almost disappeared from the history books as they were exiled to Terceira, where they spend the rest of their lives without ever seeing their African homeland again.

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Municipality building with photo exhibit outside

The Town Hall of Angra do Heroísmo. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

Forgotten Royalty is a new documentary that highlights this lost history, directed by Zimbabwean filmmaker Mosco Kamwendo. The film recently made its premier in Terceira, accompanying an intergovernmental and academic conference that focused on their lives on the island and their time spent imprisoned in Lisbon.

“If you’re African, you always get to a point where you want to question the world around you - you want to understand why I am the person that I am.”

Landing on Terceira is a strange experience - you can drive to the other side of the island in half an hour and can walk its capital city - Angra do Heroísmo - flat in an hour. Getting there with modern technology can take some time, but in the late 19th century it must have been a harrowing journey, especially as a prisoner.

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If you find yourself there, you can take a self-guided walk that follows in their footsteps. You can start at the harbour of the statue of Vasco da Gama, where they first landed on the island, and take the walk up to the Fortress of São João Baptista - the prison they called home for the rest of their lives and where a plaque commemorates their existence. 

You can also walk past the Cathedral of Angra do Heroísmo, where their African identity was finally stripped from them in a forced baptism and their new Christian names were born. 

You can see the trailer for the documentary here

soldier stands at the entrance of old portuguese f

The active military section of Fortress of São João Baptista. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

*Disclaimer: Gabi Zietsman from Traveller24 was hosted by Velvet Productions and the Terceira municipality. 

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