Jim Silva – MACANESE – IF YOU PLEASE
Note: Here’s a short comment from Jim Silva, a noted Macanese writer, on our estimate of the Macanese population (see the Diaspora page on this web site). The article is printed in its entirety without editing, except for a sentence near the end that has been italicized. The italics were placed because of Jim’s point that if we were to count ALL progeny of Macanese, the estimate may be accurate. But, as Jim points out, the definition of who is “Macanese” is still being debated.
This begs the question: How do we identify the Macanese ? I have taken a very broad approach, which may or may not suit all who are traditionally considered Macanese. For the purposes of my research and this web site, “Macanese” is a term of cultural identification. This includes anyone who identifies themselves with the cultural traditions of Macau, either through lineage (family), close associations (such as marriage), or because they choose to be identified as Macanese through language, cultural traditions, or geographic location.
I encourage anyone else who cares to comment on this important topic to send in their thoughts. Now, here are Jim’s comments.
by Jim Silva
This website recently gave the number of Macanese existing today. This was given as 250,000 persons ! ! ! Incredible. Mindboggling. Hardly believable.
I would have thought that 10% of this number would be more to the mark. I think I know how a discrepancy of this magnitude can be arrived at.
Both estimates obviously have to do with defining “Who is a Macanese” ( since there are no green cards or passports being issued). Slippery ground here.
In earlier days of Portuguese Macau there had already been controversy on this score. Some contended that to be a Macanese one has to be born in Macau. Others say that to be a Macanese one has to have at least SOME Portuguese blood in his/her ancestry.
Besides place of birth and blood – language skills, culture, religion and current citizenship should also be considered since there is no document that exists that can pass for a Macanese passport.
This “Slippery Ground” has always been apparent – but especially so today when perhaps 80% of the community have seen it fit to move away from Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macau to re-establish themselves permanently in Canada, Australia, USA, Brazil and Portugal.
By common reckoning the majority of Macanese today are now established away from the Far East. What about the progeny of these Macanese now scattered around the world? To what degree would they still be considered Macanese?
Be aware that succeeding generations of these migrants and the generations that follow will always have a tendency for marriage outside their community. At what generational stage does one lose the Macanese identity.
Hard to tell. If one includes ALL progeny of Macanese – perhaps the figure of 250,000 Macanese could still ring true. But that would be a hard pill to swallow.
I would help to simplify and clarify the tribe with this qualification. ALL who love ” Minchi ” and “Tacho” and “Balichao” will be able to call themselvess Macanese, and entitled to fly a banner of Green and Red superimposed with an emblem of a purple shrimp rampant.