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, in Black History Month
Ganga Zumba was the leader of an entire country of escaped Africans in Alagoas, Brazil known as Quilombo de Palamares. The fight for freedom in Brazil and all throughout the Americas began as soon as Africans were brought in chains to Brazil. These Freedom Fighters represented an African resistance movement that was a force to be reckoned with. The movement was diverse and strong taking on many forms, there were free settlements known as Quilombos, and countless attempts from groups of enslaved Africans to overthrow the government in their Brazilian town or state erased or forgotten in history. Fortunately evidence remains all over Brazil with artifacts and folk tales to fill in the gaps in documentation.
Ganga Zumba escaped his bondage on a sugar plantation and proceeded to live his destiny as heir to the kingdom of Palmares. Although only some Portuguese documents give him the name Ganga Zumba, this name is still widely used today.
The most important of the documents translates the name as “Great Lord.” However, a letter written to him by the governor of Pernambuco in 1678 and now found in the Archives of the University of Coimbra, calls him “Ganazumba,” which is a better translation of “Great Lord” (in Kimbundu) and this evidence confirmed this was his name.
Ganga was the son of princess Aqualtune; daughter of a King of Kongo. She led a battalion at the Battle of Mbwila. The Portuguese won the battle eventually killing 5,000 men and captured the King, his two sons, his two nephews, four governors, various court officials, 95 title holders and 400 other nobles. The entire nobility were then stolen from their kingdom, enslaved in chains, put on ships and sold in bondage in the Americas. It is highly likely that Ganga was among the nobles. Ganga Zumba, his brother Zona and his sister Sabina (mother of Zumbi dos Palmares his nephew and successor) were enslaved at a plantation of Santa Rita.
They lived in bondage in the Portuguese Captaincy of Pernambuco in what is now northeast Brazil; a Portuguese province at that time controlled by the Dutch, where they finally escaped to Palmares.
A quilombo or mocambo was a refuge of Africans that escaped their bondage and fled to the interior of Brazil to the mountainous region of Pernambuco. As their numbers increased, they formed sovereign communities, called mocambos.
Gradually as many as ten separate mocambos had formed and ultimately coalesced into a confederation called the Quilombo of Palmares, or Angola Janga, under the king, Ganga Zumba or Ganazumba, elected by the leaders of the constituent mocambos. Ganga Zumba, ruled the biggest villages, Cerro dos Macacos, presided the mocambo’s chief council and was the King of Palmares. The nine other settlements were headed by brothers, sons, or nephews of Gunga Zumba. Zumbi was chief of one community and his brother, Andalaquituche, headed another.
By the 1670s, Ganga Zumba had a palace, three wives, guards, ministers, and devoted subjects at his royal compound called Macaco. Macaco comes from the name of an animal (monkey) that was killed on the site. The compound consisted of over 1,500 houses which housed his family, guards, and officials, all of which were considered royalty. He was given the respect of a Monarch and the honor of a Lord.
In 1678 Zumba accepted a peace treaty offered by the Portuguese Governor of Pernambuco, which required that the Palmarinos relocate to Cucaú Valley. The treaty was challenged by Zumbi, one of Ganga Zumba’s nephews, who led a revolt against him. In the confusion that followed, Ganga Zumba was poisoned, mostly likely by one of his own relatives for entering into a treaty with the Portuguese. And tragically many of his followers who had moved to the Cucaú Valley were re-enslaved by the Portuguese. Resistance to the Portuguese then continued under Zumbi.
The Brazilian film Ganga Zumba was made in 1963 but was not released until 1972 because there was a military coup in Brazil in 1964, and films about revolutions, even those taking place in the 17th century, were considered politically dangerous. The film is based on João Felício dos Santo’s novel, and focuses on a black slave who ends up in Palmares. The film is about black liberation and keeps a black racial perspective. (Stam)
Ganga-Zumba, the Palmares chief during the latter part of this period, attempted to negotiate an agreement with the Portuguese where the quilombo would no longer accept fugitive slaves or fight the Portuguese in exchange for permanent recognition of their land and freedom for those born in Palmares. However, Zumbi, the settlement’s military leader, chose resistance to the Portuguese. The Portuguese never accepted Ganga-Zumbi’s proposal and continued to attack the quilombo. Finally, in 1694, Palmares was conquered and destroyed by a military force under the command of Domingos Jorge Velho. Zumbi was killed one year later in 1695.
Palmares was a multifaceted quasi-state which lasted for most of the 17th Century, resisting attack by two European powers. Challenging both Dutch and Portuguese sovereignty in Brazil, it was a symbol of resistance to colonialism and of the possibility of multicultural coexistence.
– See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/gah/palmares-ca-1605-1694#sthash.WNeQThDC.dpuf and finally the most violent, armed insurrection.
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