Returning to El Dorado

By Tanja Goodwin Expect to see controls on African migration increase dramatically any time soon. Oh, and just to clarify: that’s migration TO Africa, not FROM Africa.

Portuguese, facing high unemployment and their economy plagued by austerity, are flooding the shores of Angola and Mozambique. Angola has again become Portugal’s El Dorado as unprecedented numbers of Portuguese workers have flocked to the former colony: from 2006 to 2009 alone the number of visas issued for Portuguese increased from 156 to 23,000. Some already complain about difficulties in obtaining legal permissions to stay in Angola. The number of Portuguese workers settling in Mozambique has increased by more than 30 percent over the past two years.

It’s likely just a matter of time before some African countries limit their “green cards” to prevent European immigrants from stealing Angolan and Mozambican jobs. Undoubtedly, Africans will try to protect their cultural identities by banning Port Wine from their menus, for example. Immigration officials may soon be allowed to deny pregnant Portuguese women entry into Angola or Mozambique at their discretion to avert the birth of “anchor babies.”

At least African countries don’t have to fear that Portuguese will be living off their welfare programs. Portuguese seem to find well-paying jobs: Remittances sent from Angola to Portugal have increased more than seven-fold. In 2009, they even surpassed remittances sent from the UK.

500 years after Vasco da Gama’s first landing in Mozambique and Diogo Cão’s arrival in Angola, the Portuguese are heading south again. No doubt, their greeting manners have improved. This time they’re coming with resumes, not rifles.