Zumbi dos Palmares – Biography, History, Brazil Black Slavery ( 1965)
Biography of Zumbi dos Palmares
Zumbi dos Palmares was the leader of the black resistance of Quilombo dos Palmares, located to the south of the Captaincy of Pernambuco, on the lower part of the São Francisco River, in Serra da Barriga, a region in the current state of Alagoas.
Zumbi dos palmares was born in Quilombo do Palmares, probably around 1655. He was the grandson of the black princess Aqualtune, and nephew of Ganga Zumba and Gana Zona, heads of the most important mocambos in Quilombo, which was made up of dozens of villages.
He was named Zumbi to sensitize the god of war. According to legend, Zumbi was raised by a priest who gave him some instruction and as a young man returned to his people.
Formation of the Quilombo dos Palmares
At the time of colonialization in Brazil, since 1600, some fugitive slaves from the sugar mills were already taking refuge in the Serra da Barriga, a region in the current state of Alagoas. Between 1602 and 1608, two entrances under the command of Bartolomeu Bezerra reached the mountain, without being able to locate the fugitives.
In 1630, the quilombo was already formed. At that time, Pernambuco lived under Dutch rule and the war intensified the flight of slaves to the quilombo, already known as Palmares.
Between 1644 and 1645, Dutch expeditions were organized to destroy the quilombo, without success. In 1654, the Dutch were expelled from the Northeast and economic decline reduced the need for slave labor. At that time, Palmares was a long strip located in the northern part of the lower course of the São Francisco River, today in the State of Alagoas.
Zumbi dos Palmares grew free within the quilombo. Of slavery, he only knew the terrible stories that his elders told him, remembering death in the holds of ships and slavery in the slave quarters. He married the black warrior Dandara and with her he had three children.
From a simple refuge for runaway slaves, Palmares became a center of resistance against the entire slave system. Despite the flourishing trade between Palmares and the region’s settlers, peace was only temporary. Farmers could not allow quilombos to encourage slaves to flee.
Between 1671 and 1674 two expeditions were organized against the quilombo, with few results. In 1675, during the invasion of Manuel Lopes’ troops, the vast extension of Palmares was revealed, with more than 2,000 houses, fortified with stakes. In the ensuing fights, Zombie is shot twice but continued to fight. His name and his courage were beginning to become legend.
In 1677, Fernão Carrilho, highlighted by the governor of Pernambuco, Pedro de Almeida, attacked the Aqualtune hovel. Ganga Zumba and most of his people flee. After successive victories, Carrilho sets up an arraial in the heart of Palmares.
In 1678, Ganga Zumba sends three of his children and twelve blacks to Recife, accompanied by an emissary of the governor, to make a peace agreement. Palmares gained village status and Ganga Zumba became a fieldmaster.
Zombie Leader Death
Zumbi does not agree with the peace agreement made by Ganga Zumba, for him it is not just about living free, but freeing those who were still slaves. It received support from several mocambos. Ganga Zumba loses ground is poisoned and Zombie is the new warrior leader and faces bloody battles.
In 1691, the pioneer Domingos Jorge Velho, with more than a thousand men, invaded the Mocambo do Macaco, where Zumbi commanded the resistance. After several fights, Zumbi flees to Porto Calvo. In 1694, a new attack destroyed the quilombo. Commanded by Zumbi and entrenched in the Serra da Barriga, the quilombolas resist to the death.
Zumbi dos Palmares is captured on November 20, 1695, after being betrayed by a prisoner who exchanged his life for that of the leader, was beheaded and his head taken to Recife, which by order of the governor was placed on public display.
In honor of Zumbi, every November 20th, Black Consciousness Day or Black Awareness Day is celebrated in Brazil.