Madeirans in Cape Town: Immigration documentation, marriage and settlement, 1900s to the 1970s
McEvoy, Michael Desmond
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This thesis traces the immigration of Madeirans to Cape Town and their settlement from the 1900s to the 1970s. It focuses on how exclusionary legislation from 1902 affected Madeiran entry, how they managed to circumvent it and the documents required for immigration over this long period. Particular attention is drawn to the role of women in the migration process, the nature of the households and the impact of women in shaping a settled Madeiran population. The thesis examines the role Portuguese organisations played and continue to play in maintaining cultural and religious values and the extent to which these values have been retained in the second and later generations. This thesis seeks to ask to what extent the Madeiran migration experience bears commonalities with other groups, particularly Indians, or whether unique features are discernible. Indians and Madeirans were both regarded as ‘undesirable’ and subject to literacy tests, domicile certificates, permits and certificates of identity. Illegal entry was common to both groups. Chain migration featured in their decision to leave the poverty of their homeland. The split-household was the dominant household form. Once settled, Indian and Madeiran wives played a key role in the business and in passing on their cultural and religious values. Both groups established cultural organisations. Despite these commonalities, Madeiran migration displayed certain unique features compared to Indians.