All women and Zumbi on Wednesday and the Day of Black Consciousness
Wednesday has crept up on me; so today I will celebrate my daughter who sent me some nice pictures from Brazil at the weekend after having enjoyed a National Holiday. She had been a exhibition and seen some wood cuts and shared them with me.
She told me also that today she would be having yet another day’s holiday today for the Day of Black Consciousness in Brazil. Since the early 1970s, for a week around the 20th November, the anniversary of Zumbi dos Palmares’ death in 1695, time has been allowed celebrate Black culture in Brazilian society. The Day of Black Consciousness is a day to remember the black resistance to slavery in general and the first transportation of Africans to Brazil in 1594.
Zumbi (1655-1695) also know as Zumbi dos Palmares was the last leader of the Quilombo dos Palmares, a fugitive settlement in the state now known as Alagoas, Brazil.
The quilombos or settlements were founded by fugitives or African refugees. Quilombo dos Palmares was a self-sustaining republic of maroons (meaning runaways) escaped from the Portuguese settlements in Brazil. It was a region about the size of Portugal, in the hinterland of Bahia. Palmares had a population around 30,000. It was constantly under attack by Portuguese colonists. The warriors of Palmares were expert in capoeira; a martial arts form that was brought to Brazil by African slaves in the 16th century.
Zumbi was born free in Palmares, believed to be descended from the Imbangala warriors of Angola. When is was 6 years old he was captured by marauding Portuguese and given to Father António Melo a missionary. After he was baptised, Francisco, Zumbi was taught the religious orders, learned Latin and Portuguese and helped daily in the church.
However, Zumbi continue to yearn for his homeland until he was fifteen when he escaped and returned. Where he became known for his strength and determination in battle. By the time he was 20 he was a ‘respected military strategist’
Zumbi continued to wage war against the Portuguese for the freedom of worship, religion and practice of African culture. Zumbi was captured and beheaded on the spot November 20, 1695. His head was taken to Recife where it was displayed, as a deterrent to those slaves who believed Zumbi to be immortal and those who considered taking his place. Some quilombo dwellers continued to reside in the region for another hundred years.
So while I don’t celebrate today one particular woman today I remember all women; who didn’t not perhaps raise arms to the enemy of humanity in all its forms, but have worked tirelessly on the home front always and not not often celebrated.