General issues: Portuguese chartered company 1898-1929
Country name on general issues: Nyassa, Companhia do Nyassa
Currency: 1 Milreis = 1000 Reis 1898-1919, 1 Escudo = 100 Centovos 1919-1929
Population: No statistics available – a rough estimate would suggest the population to have been in the order of 300 000 in 1900
Political history Nyassa Company
The Nyassa Company was a chartered company active in Mozambique in eastern Africa. The Portuguese had, since the 16th century, established themselves in Mozambique. When Mozambique was awarded to Portugal at the 1885 Berlin conference, where the colonial powers divided their respective spheres of influence in Africa, it was a prerequisite for continued recognition of territorial claims that effective colonial rule would be established. The Portuguese had little resources available to actually do so and thus, parts of Mozambique were transferred to private companies for further development. One of these companies was the Nyassa Company which was established in 1893. The Nyassa Company was a chartered company having, aside from commercial rights, administrative powers in its territory. The territory of the Nyassa Company was in northern Mozambique, the administration of which was transferred to the Nyassa Company in 1894. The Nyassa Company founded Porto Amelia as its capital. The Nyassa Company was financed largely by foreign investors – at first British and French investors, later German investors also.
Starting from the coastal settlements, the Nyassa Company brought the territory awarded to it gradually under its control between 1894 and 1912. As Portugal, in WWI, joined the Allies in the invasion of neighboring German East Africa, the Germans counter attacked and part of the war was fought on the territory of the Nyassa Company.
All in all the company did little to further the economic and social development of the territory. What money was made, was made through the levying of taxes and through a system of forced labor called ‘chibalo’. Obligations, such as the construction of a railroad between Porto Amelia and Lake Nyassa and the construction of lighthouses along the stretch of the Mozambican coast the company controlled, were not met. The Nyassa Company did not manage to turn a profit – which, by the way, was the fate of many of the chartered companies from other countries.
The little the company did for the development of the territory under its administration and changing views within the Portuguese government on the administration of the Portuguese colonies resulted in the charter not being renewed when it ended in 1929 – the administration of the territories of the Nyassa Company was transferred back to the colonial authorities.
Postal history Nyassa Company
Part of the charter of the Nyassa Company was the right to issue stamps. The first stamps issued in 1898 were overprints on previous Mozambique issues – the overprint being ‘Nyassa’. The first definitives were issued in 1901, printed by Waterlow & Sons printers in London. A further set of definitives was issued between 1921 and 1923, again ordered from the Waterlow printers. Both are attractive sets issued with the collectors market in mind – stamp sales being a substantial source of revenue for the company. In between, many overprints have been issued. The first stamps in the new currency – overprints on previous issues – were not issued until 1919 – seven years after the new currency had been introduced in Mozambique. The stamps of the Nyassa Company were superseded by those from Mozambique in 1929.