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Black Consciousness Day

Dia Nacional da Consciência Negra

Every November 20 Brazil celebrates the anniversary of Zumbi, leader of the quilombo Palmares, by recognizing black consciousness day. This year will mark the 319th Anniversary of Zumbi dos Palmares.

Abadá Capoeira marks black consciousness day by commemorating Zumbi, leader of Quilombo dos Palmares, and Mestre Bimba, founder of Capoeira Regional.

Zumbimba is an important date for members of ABADÁ Capoeira and is celebrated with training, lectures, debates and reflection on leaders of the past, training in the present, and planning for the future. It is a time of rembering and reflecting on lessons demonstrated by the lives of great masters such as Zumbi and Bimba.

Z U M B I M B A

Celebrating the life and death of ZUMBI and MESTRE BIMBA


Zumbi dos Palmares • 1655-November 20, 1695

Mestre Bimba • November 23, 1900-February 5, 1974

The history of Palmares, the lessons of Zumbi, and the tradition of Bimba


Z U M B I

Zumbi (1655-1695) was the last of the leaders of Quilombo dos Palmares, in the present-day state of Alagoas.

A quilombo was a refuge of runaway slaves.

Zumbi was a black leader who fought slavery and became a symbol of black resistance.

Palmares, known as the Quilombo (a military society or camp) dos Palmares, because of the wild palm trees that grew there, was founded in Pernambuco in 1597 by slaves who escaped from a local sugar plantation.

By the middle of the 17th century the fortress had an estimated population of 30,000, with ex-slaves and free-born living in a new virtual country.

Zumbi was born in 1655 and while still a small boy was captured by slave hunters. He was given to a priest who baptized him Francisco.

At the age of 15, he escaped and returned to the Quilombo dos Palmares, shucked off his white man's name and took the name Zumbi.

Zumbi became leader upon the death of Ganga Zumba, the first leader of the Quilombo dos Palmares.

In 1695, Zumbi was betrayed by some of his bodyguards, captured and killed.

Quilombo dos Palmares was destroyed after the death of Zumbi by an invading force of over ten thousand.



Quilombo de San Gonçalo 1769
National Library of Brazil

Quilombo dos Palmares was a self-sustaining republic of Maroons escaped from the Portuguese settlements in Brazil, a region perhaps the size of Portugal in the hinterland of Bahia. At its height, Palmares had a population of over 30,000.


On November 20, 1695, with a small band of supporters, Zumbi was ambushed and killed. As a symbol of daring and uncompromising resisance, Zumbi the warrior-chief is a legend and a Brazilian national hero.

RHYTHMS OF RESISTANCE
Peter Fryer; Pluto Press


Zumbi represents not only passive resistance but also the enduring potential of all (people) ... to be inspired to rebel.

LOOKING FOR GOD IN BRAZIL
John Burdick; U.Cal.Press



Quilombo Buraco do Tatu 1763
História & Vida Integrada Ática, 2002

Run-away slaves were organizing themselves in free democratic communities called quilombos. Zumbi was elected the leader of the most important Quilombo dos Palmares.

Zumbi was born in freedom in Palmares, kidnapped and later returned as an escaped slave to eventually lead the quilombo slave liberation movement.

The government sent armies against Palmares (a series of bush captains led locally raised armies against Palmares in 1679, 1680, 1682, and 1684: DEATH IN BRAZIL Peter Robb; Holt & Co.) and after many battles Zumbi was killed ... his death marks a black consciousness day in Brazil.

THE STRUGGLE IS ONE
Mev Puleo; SUNY Press


Palmares became a prime target for colonial authorities. Numerous military expeditions were mounted against it; betweeen 1672 and 1694, Palmares withstood an average of one Portuguese attack every 15 months. In 1684 Palmares lost and after subsequent fighting Zumbi the black Spartacus was killed in 1695.

Shortly thereafter refugees from Palmares formed another quilombo called Cumbe in Paraiba, which resisted until 1731. Resistance in the region continued until 1797, more than a century after the death of Zumbi.

TROPICAL MULTICULTURALISM
Robert Stam; Duke University Press


Palmares was a state founded by maroons, or runaway slaves, in Northeastern Brazil in the seventeenth century. Zumbi embodies the strongest resistance to the slave-based colonial regime, and the struggle for economic and political justice. Zumbi is viewed as an ancestor worthy of respect. Some historians called Palmares a black Troy.

By 1606 runaway slaves made their way to a mountainous, palm-covered region of Pernambuco and there established a mocambo, or maroon settlement, of some reputation. The area came to be known as Palmares due to the wild palms. This settlement was half a mile long, its street six feet wide. There were 220 buildings in the middle of which stood a church, four smithies, and a council house. By the 1670s the population of Palmares was largely native-born. The balance of the population would have been runaway slaves, slaves and free persons captured in raids, colonials, and free immigrants of all racial backgrounds.

Zumbi was the war commander of Palmares under Ganga-Zumba. During an attack by the Portuguese, he was captured and later given to a priest, Antônio Melo, in the coastal town of Porto Calvo. He was raised as the priest's protégé. At the age of 15, in 1670, Zumbi ran away to Palmares.

In 1678, Ganga-Zumba, accepted terms of peace from the governor of Pernambuco which affirmed the independence of Palmares. After Ganga-Zumba's death, Zumbi, until then a chief and military commander, was proclaimed supreme chief.

Soon, the Portuguese broke the peace and enlisted mercenaries for an assault on Palmares. When they reached the heavy fortification of the royal compound of Macaco, they lay siege for 22 days. In the final battle on February 5-6, 1994, they took 400 prisoners. Another 300 died in battle, while 200 hurled themselves or were forced from the precipice at the rear of the compound.

Zumbi had escaped this fatal battle. He continued to fight the Portuguese for over a year, until one of his aids revealed his location. There Zumbi and a small band of followers were ambushed and killed on November 20, 1695.

From Professor Robert Anderson at the University of North Carolina.


M E S T R E   B I M B A

Mestre Bimba was jet-black, a large, bolt-upright, barrel-chested Brazilian

The negroes were African but Capoeira is from Cachoeira, Santo Amaro,
and Ilha da Maré in Bahia, cararado!

Mestre Bimba

Mestre Bimba (1900-1974) Manuel dos Reis Machado, known famously as Mestre Bimba, was born in Salvador, Bahia.

He started learning Capoeira when he was 12 years old, even though, in those days Capoeira was still being persecuted by the authorities.


Until the 1930s Capoera was strongly identified with gang culture and violence ... in 1932, the same year that new laws declared Capoeiristas dangerous delinquents, Mestre Bimba opened Brazil's first Capoeira academy. In the controlled environment of the academy, Capoeira was transformed. It now became accessible to a cross-section of students.

FREEDOMS GIVEN, FREEDOMS WON
Kim Butler; Rutgers University Press


Bimba began demanding strict discipline; he set codes of conduct for his students; he made his classes more intensive than anything previously known to the art; he endowed his students with diplomas and a cordão (a ranking cord).

CONTEMPORARY LATIN AMERICAN CULTURAL STUDIES
Stephen Hart; Oxford University Press


When Bimba instituted his academy, he modified not only the vocabulary of Capoeira, but also its mode of transmission.

Bimba's teaching method entailed a classification of movements and the training of sequencias, choreographed exchanges between partners ... introduction of a linear, sequential mode of instruction into a quintessentially circular form. In Bimba's academy, individual progress was marked by the formatura, or graduation ceremony.

EVERYNIGHT LIFE
Celeste Delgado; Duke University Press


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