Recently I came across this image (which I straightened from an angled shot and cropped) of a plate supposed to be that (until 1975, according to RPWO, although without illustration) of the Governor of Portuguese East Africa, currently known as Mozambique (or Moçambique in Portuguese). This plate was allegedly given “personally” to an American who was working there at the time. A nice looking plate with an interesting history—Portuguese East Africa number 1, surely a coup for any plate collection, and deserving of a place of prominence in a display.
But wait a minute. Don’t they speak Portuguese in Portuguese (!) East Africa, and now Mozambique? According to Wikipedia, “Portuguese Mozambique or Portuguese East Africa (officially the State of East Africa upon erection and later Overseas Province of Mozambique) was the common name by which the Portuguese Empire’s territorial expansion in East Africa was known across different periods of time.” In the table accompanying the article the “languages” [sic] are given as “Portuguese” suggesting that any indigenous languages in this part of Africa were, if not suppressed, not to be considered; indeed (Wikipedia again), “Mozambique, according to official policy, was not a colony at all but rather a part of the ‘pluricontinental and multiracial nation’ of Portugal. Portugal sought in Mozambique, as it did in all its colonies, to Europeanize the local population and assimilate them into Portuguese culture.” By the way, Mozambique became independent from Portugal on 25 June 1975.
If one visits this article in Portuguese (an easy click away via the Languages sidebar to the left of the article), he finds the following introductory sentence: “Moçambique ou África Oriental Portuguesa (oficialmente Estado da África Oriental, depois elevado para Província Ultramarina de Moçambique) era o nome comum pelo qual a expansão territorial do Império Português na África Oriental era conhecida em diferentes épocas.” And there it is—the Portuguese rendering of the name of the name of the state (as in country) or province (as in part of Portugal)—África Oriental Portuguesa, which surely would have been rendered on the Governor’s plate as AOP.
Is this really the plate of the Governor of Portuguese East Africa?