Malacca is the first European colony, and the most colonised city in Southeast Asia, having been taken over by the Portuguese in 1511, and having had not just one colonial master, but three (the Dutch from 1641, and the British from 1824).
In essence, Malacca is a palimpsest – a sort of canvas that has been written over and over again by successive writers, or in this case, civilisations. Think mille-feuille, or layer cake; or, if one is local, those many layered, rainbow-coloured, nonya kueh kueh.
As in any palimpsest, the top layers are never the most important; in the same way, it is Malacca’s Portuguese roots that continue to not only be important, but also very very palpable in the city today; despite the Portuguese having been despatched with more then 3 centuries ago.
This chapter tackles the history of Portuguese Malaqa, how it has endured to this day through the Portgueuse Creole people, or Kristangs; and how it is making somewhat of a resurgence.