Martyrs’ Day is a public holiday that’s observed in Guinea-Bissau and commemorates the Pidjiguiti massacre that took place on August 3, 1959. Also known as Pidjiguiti Day, this day is a National Holiday, so businesses, non-essential government offices, and schools are closed and it’s a day off for the general public.
Although it is a public holiday, it’s seen as a day of grief and not a day for celebration. That means that this holiday doesn’t feature the usual festivities that one would expect from a National Holiday, and instead features torch and candle processions in memory of those who died on this day.
The History Of Martyrs’ Day In Guinea-Bissau
Guinea-Bissau is a country that’s been populated by the Fulani, Malinke, and other indigenous peoples, but was colonized by the Portuguese during the 19th century. This country would remain under the Portuguese’s control, even as a self-determination movement was gaining ground in the country during the first half of the 20th century.
The Amilcar Cabral established the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) in 1956. This party favored gaining independence by non-violent means and towards those ends, they established a strike at the Pidjiguiti Docks of the Port of Bissau to attempt to get better wages for workers.
On August 3rd, 1959, dock workers came to support this general strike and ended up taking control of the port to keep it from operating. Security forces of the country would attempt to recapture the port from the strikers with force. State police broke through the gates and opened fire on the strikers, injuring hundreds of people and killing 50 people. These forces also captured many of the protesters for arrest and even torture.
The Massacre of Pidjiguiti, as it came to be called, would be a turning point in the history of the country. In 1963, the war of independence began, until Guinea-Bissau was finally able to secure its independence from Portugal in 1974.
Observing Martyrs’ Day In Guinea-Bissau
Since this is a day of mourning, there are wreath-laying ceremonies, religious services, and candlelit processions on this holiday. The general public has the day off so they can attend these events.
When is Martyrs’ Day in Guinea-Bissau?
|This year (2023)||August 3 (Thursday)||Multiple dates - more|
|Next year (2024)||August 3 (Saturday)||Multiple dates - more|
|Last year (2022)||August 3 (Wednesday)||Multiple dates - more|