It’s important to know who we are, from whom and from where we were formed… by telling the stories ourselves, we see an example of how to live, how to inspire and how to honor our ancestors, Aguanile, Mai, Mai..
MimiTVA Posting from the DMV, Thursday, February 8, 2018
African people’s fight for freedom throughout the Americas began the minute we were illegally captured, stolen and enslaved in the motherland. Africans who had escaped slavery in Brazil and created their own township or a Quilombo. Quilombo is a portugese word derived from an Angolan language “Kilombo” and it means a warrior village or settlement. The Quilombo dos Palmares was actually a country in South America and today it is located in the coastal region known as Alagoas, Brazil.
Quilombo dos Palmares was a self-sustaining settlement that was approximately the size of modern day Portugal. At it’s most productive, Palmares had over 30,000 residents. Their great king Ganga Zuma would free every African seeking refuge.
In the beginning the settlement of free Africans became a thorn in the side of the Portuguese. The residents of Palmares sometimes invaded mills to liberate enslaved people, they would confiscate food, weapons and also abducted women, who were a rare commodity in the quilombo. Diogo Botelho,the Governor General of Brazil sent an expedition of 40 to 60 soldiers according to historians. After they destroyed their dwellings and had taken prisoners, the Portuguese thought they had won the battle. However whenever the Portugese soldiers appeared, Palmares residents retreated into the woods, leaving destruction behind with plantations and cabins were destroyed and burned. And shortly thereafter new dwellings and plantations were raised.
This constant destruction and subsequent reconstruction was a very difficult way of life and severely stifled the growth of the Quilombo. And then a fortunate little war helped seal the fate of Quilombo dos Palmares. The Dutch landed at Pernambuco in 1630, and tried to rob the profits of sugar from the hands of the other opportunists, the Portuguese and the Spanish, who were at the time under the same king’s reign. This hostile invasion created an absolute uproar in the Northeast region of Brazil. With the Dutch initial victory in 1645, some of the second generation Brazilian Portuguese engaged them in guerrilla warfare. Subsequently these Plantation owners had to enlist their slaves to fight the Dutch, which in turn facilitated their escape. And amid the hostility and chaos, the Quilombo de Palmares grew, with thousands of new free African residents. When the Dutch were finally expelled in 1654, the township had become a powerful land formed by several populated settlements.
Rumor has it that the population of Palmares was polygamous and possibly even polyandrous – meaning that a woman could have multiple husbands. To feed the growing population, their economy was a mixture of enterprises, including, hunting, gathering and agriculture. The Quilombo farmers planted crops such as cassava, sweet potatoes and beans. There was trade with neighbors. “The idea that Palmares was an isolated refuge in the woods may be true for the first few years of settlement. However, after mid-century, the relationship between blacks and their neighbors certainly evolved into an intense exchange with Indians and whites,” says Flávio Gomes, researcher at the Department of History of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). A true community was created with belonging , residents and a thriving economy. Supposedly whites did engage in the Quilombo dos Palmares and it is known that this happened later in quilombos of other regions. Despite their alleged hostility toward whites, there is evidence that livestock farmers brought their flocks to graze in the area of Palmares and maintained trade with the quilobolas to the point of being called, disdainfully “colonists of the blacks.”
The residents of the Quilombo dos Palmeres apparently did have a good relationship with the Indians. Archaeological excavations have found Indian pottery, probably contemporary to the quilombo. “It is tempting to make this association and say that Indians were within the quilombo, but we could be dealing with some type of trade,” says American archaeologist Scott Allen, of the Federal University of Alagoas. According to Pedro Paulo Funari, historian and Unicamp archaeologist who joined the first team to take soundings at the site 15 years ago, pottery indicates that there were Indians in Palmares: “The ceramic production was linked to the attributions of women. The presence of this material in Palmares may mean that the ex-slaves had Indian wives.” Something perfectly consistent with the lack of black women there. Anyway, mestiçagem (racial mixture) was on the tip of the tongue of Palmares inhabitants. Their language seemed to have an African base mixed with words and structures taken from the Portuguese and Tupi – the settlers needed interpreters to speak with them. Illustrative of its complexity, Quilombo dos Palmares in 1640 was described as comprising several separate settlements which pledged their loyalty to one leader (chief). Two of the settlements were mostly of Amerindian origin (Subupira e Tabocas); one of Portuguese colonists who joined the quilombo (Amaro), and seven Bantos, that is, settlements of fugitive slaves (Andalaquituche, Macaco, Aqualtene, Ambrabanga, Tabocas, Zumbi, Arotiene). With its capital in Macaco, Palmares possessed a complex social structure, replicating, in many instances, African political systems. – See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/gah/palmares-ca-1605-1694#sthash.WNeQThDC.dpuf
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