I have touched on this subject before and I am doing it again today! It is about the question of nationalities. People have many times asked me what I see myself as. I have to be honest and explain that I am convinced that our first years are most important in shaping one’s personal identity.
I carry today a Swedish passport and it makes sense since I have lived in Sweden for the most part of my life. But I have had the Portuguese and British passports before. What happened for me to lose the Portuguese nationality which emotionally best correspond to my own feelings and identity!
I will explain. When I was living in London my thoughts were always to go back to Portugal which I missed grandly. Apart from my nearest family that lived there and the friends I had left I missed the Atlantic coast. I often talked about it and the people that came closest to me during those London years knew and could plan on going there with me. But I couldn’t so when my father came to London in 1971 he looked up some of his old acquaintances at the Consulate, from his own time there.
We were told that if I wanted to go back I would have to lose the Portuguese nationality first or I would risk being sent to the army and subsequently to some of the fronts in colonized Africa. Of course this was said on an unofficial way as a personal favour. I was give some forms, filled them in handed in my first passport with the national symbol on the front and the word PORTUGAL.
As I left for Sweden in 1972 it wasn’t until years later that my request was granted and sadly it was already after the revolution of 1974.
This is not a picture of my passport but mine looked something like this!
The nationality question has undergone a lot of mental and legal changes since the Second World War and the development of the European Union.
Certain countries such as Britain have long had the principle of “Jus Soli” which means that the place of birth defines the nationality. As I was born in Stafford, England my nationality was British from birth. Portugal in turn defines nationality as connected with the father’s nationality “Jus Sanguinis”. From the moment I was registered at a Portuguese consulate I became Portuguese.
Britain was one of the countries that first accepted dual nationality. That meant for practical purpose that in Britain I was both British and Portuguese whereas in Portugal only Portuguese. This created a problem and in order to be able to return to Portugal without risking being drafted to the war it was necessary to renounce the Portuguese nationality which was done through the consulate in London. I learned that this renouncement was finally granted but already after the 25th of April 1974. Soon after, and to comply with the interest of many Portuguese immigrated citizens, Portugal accepted dual nationality! For my part I had wasted time, money and fidelity points!
After many years, living in Sweden and because I did not have full political rights here, I decided to apply for Swedish nationality. This was granted but I was obliged to write to British authorities in order to explain that I no longer wished to be a British national. After this process was finalized and I had obtained a Swedish passport it was finally decide that Sweden would accept dual nationality.
It all boils down to the fact that I could have had three nationalities but have only one! My first passport is Portuguese and if it hasn’t been destroyed it will be filed in some Lisbon office dealing with nationality!