La Vida En Black History Month… #BlackHistoryIsGlobal
During the Spanish colonial period in Mexico the indigenous people enslaved by the Colonists were practically annihilated by disease. In order to replace their free labor, the Spanish brought enslaved African to Mexico to toil the sugar fields and work the underground mines. Enslaved Africans were highly sought after because they were known for their strength and stamina in the hot sun. Historians speculate that 200,000 Africans were brought to be enslaved in Mexico but evidence shows the number was higher, to more like 500,000 Africans. And as with most stories of slavery throughout the America’s – there was strong resistance and rebellion in every century and in every country.
In Mexico, the great Libertador was an enslaved African – Gaspar Yanga. Yanga was the master mind behind the most successful slave rebellion in Mexican history having taken place around the year 1570.
Believed to be a member of the royal house of Gabon, Africa, this hero was responsible for leading the Africans in a successful revolt.
Under Yanga’s reign, the Africans were able to escape to safety in the highlands of Veracruz. They built a small freed colony surviving for over three decades by ambushing caravans bringing goods to Veracruz. Finally in 1609 the Spanish decided they were going to fight for control of the territory.
About 550 Spanish troops set out from Puebla in January of 1609. But the Africans were a scrappy force of 100 men using some type of firearm, and 400 more armed with other weapons – stones, machetes, bows and arrows, and more. The African army was led by Francisco de la Matosa, an Angolan. Yanga—who was now quite old— employed his army’s innate intelligence of the terrain to hold off the Spaniards. The Africans did manage to cause the Spaniards enough distress to bring them to the negotiating table. They fought long and hard for months.
When the Spanish troops finally approached the Africans; Yanga sent Peace Treaty terms by a captured Spaniard. Yanga’s Treaty called for – an area of self-rule, in return for promises to support the Spanish if they were attacked. In addition, he suggested that this proposed district would return any slaves which might flee to it. That last concession was needed to assuage the slave owners of Vera Cruz.
Unbelievably, after 30 years in the mountains, Yanga negotiated a treaty with the Spanish. The treaty was hard fought and well earned. In the end, Yanga received his desired goal of free community.
Today, the town of Yanga in Veracruz is a living testimony to this incredible achievement.
Now That’s La Vida En Black History from Mexico…