Pidjiguiti Day 2023: Every year on August 3, Guinea-Bissau commemorates Pidjiguiti Day as a national holiday. This day commemorates the 1959 tragedy at Pidjiguiti, which occurred on this date.
On August 3, 1959, mariners and dockworkers working for the influential Casa Gouveia at the Pinjiguiti port in Bissau revolted and demanded better working conditions and pay raises. In response, Portuguese colonial authorities repressed them violently, resulting in approximately 50 fatalities and hundreds of injuries.
DAY’S HISTORY OF PIDJIGUITI
Since the 1800s, Portugal has ruled Guinea-Bissau. In the 1950s, national independence movements spread across Africa, including Guinea-Bissau. The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was founded by Amilcar Cabral in 1956. In support of nonviolent independence, the P.A.I.G.C. called for a strike for higher compensation at the Pijiguiti Docks in the Port of Bissau. On August 3, 1959, a significant number of dockworkers joined the strike and effectively shut down the port by seizing possession of it.
The International and State Defence Police (PIDE) launched an offensive to reclaim the port from the strikers after security forces assaulted the gate. They opened fire on the assembly, killing fifty protesters and wounding a great number of others. Others were detained and subjected to torture by the PIDE.
The P.A.I.G.C. and other independence supporters viewed these acts as a turning point in the organisation of opposition to colonial authority. Soon thereafter, they resolved to abandon the nonviolent strategy in favour of more aggressive measures. In 1963, armed conflict broke out, leading to Guinea-Bissau’s and Cape Verde’s independence in 1973 and 1975, respectively. In memory of the massacre victims, the port of Pinjiguiti was adorned with a sculpture of a clenched fist called Mo de Timba, which approximately translates to “the hand of a thief” or “a person who incurs debt without paying it back.”
5. IMPORTANT PIDJIGUITI DAY FACTS
- Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, and Papua New Guinea are all referred to as ‘Guinea.’
- The Mali Empire governed over Guinea-Bissau when it was a sub-kingdom known as Gabu.
- Guinea-Bissau has one of the lowest life expectancies in the globe, ranking ninth-lowest in 2021 with a life expectancy of only 58 years.
- According to the Facts Institute, in 2021 it was the sixth most polluted city in the globe.
- Guinea-Bissau is one of only 27 nations without any monuments on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
WHY PIDJIGUITI DAY IS CONSIDERABLE
On this date in 1959, the massacre at Pidjiguiti occurred. The celebration prompts discussions and policies to prevent a recurrence.
The massacre’s victims are remembered, and their sacrifice is revered. On this day in 1959, torchlight processions commemorate the lives of those who perished.
This day commemorates the end of oppressive colonial rule. It commemorates the initial action that eventually led to Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde’s independence.