Africa Anes: One of the First Azorean Settlers
By Melody Lassalle
(Retold from the works of Gaspar Frutuoso)
A young woman called Africa Annes or Africannes was one of the first settlers of the island of Sao Miguel. Who was this woman? And, how did she become one of the first settlers?
At the time of Gaspar Frutuoso's writings (mid-1500s), little was known about her orgins. Some said she was the daughter of Manoel Afonso. But that was all they knew.
Others said she was the daughter of a powerful noble named Goncalo Anes de Samadeca and Catarina Afonso. He gaver her the name Africa as she was his first child born in Africa. This is the story corroborated by modern genealogists.
For whatever reason, Africa Anes was placed in the protection of Frei Goncalo Velho by her father. She travelled with him and through him she met Captain Jorge Velho.
Jorge had an interesting tale to tell as well. He was the nephew of the King of Fez. The Kingdom of Fez was situated in the region now known as Morocco and Algeria. Jorge Velho was not his real name, but a name he acquired later in life. It's unknown what his birth name was.
How did he get the name "Jorge Velho"? It came to be that this nephew of the King of Fez made contact with Infante D. Henrique. They travelled together in the Cape of S. Vicent. D. Henrique was quite taken with the young man. They had many conversation and the Infante convinced him to convert to Christianity. He was baptized soon after. As his Godfather was Frei Goncalo Velho, the Commander of the Almourol, he was given the name Jorge Velho. Jorge became a knight and also a captain.
He met up with Africa Anes while she was in the care of Frei Goncalo Velho. They were soon married. The couple then headed for Santa Maria Island where they started their family. However, they did not stay long. They moved to Sao Miguel Island with the first group of settlers. There they lived on a farm and raised four children: Ines Afonso, Joao Jorge, Pero Jorge, and Fernao Jorge.
After Jorge's death, Africa Anes remarried. Her second husband was Nuno Velho de Travassos, son of Diego Goncalves de Travassos and D. Violante.
And, so this is how a young woman born in Africa to a Portuguese parents and the nephew of the King of Fez came to be part of the first settlement of the Island of Sao Miguel. Though their backgrounds are different from most of the original settlers, they have become a part of the Azorean story.
© 2004 Melody Lassalle
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