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5. Work and Freedom

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Chapter Summary

Work was the primary reason the convicts were sent to Africa and work they did. When examining the long lists of tasks they performed, it becomes obvious that convict labor permeated Angola, at least the official Portuguese Angola. It is no exaggeration to say that Angola from the 1880s until 1932 was built on the labor of convicts. This is true for the military, numerous agencies of the colonial government, the city of Luanda, and for private individuals who leased convicts. Official statements and regulations stated that the primary objective of this labor was the redemption of the convict, yet the state did not neglect to consider its financial impact. Exiting the Depósito and ultimately the supervision of the state was only possible by a premature death, a pardon, a reduction in the original sentence (which was much more frequent) or by completion of the original sentence.

Keywords: convicts; Depósito; Luanda; Portuguese Angola



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