Zumbi Dos Palmares
Zumbi Dos Palmares was one of the most important war leaders of the autonomous kingdom of Palmares, founded in the seventeenth century by slave insurgents in north-eastern Brazil.
It seems he was born around 1655 in a community of Palmares. In 1662, while still a child, he was taken prisoner by the Portuguese soldiers in the autonomous territory borders. By incredible luck, he was not executed, but delivered to Father Antonio Melo who baptized him and gave him his Christian name: Francisco.
He then spent years helping Father Antonio at Mass and learnt Portuguese and Latin. Around 1670, barely fifteen, he ran away and returned to Palmares.
The leader of Palmares
As early as 1675, twenty years old, he proved to be a military strategist and quality leader in the struggles against Sergeant Manuel Lopes.
In 1678, Pedro de Almeida, governor of the Pernambuco region, offers insurgents to there: in exchange, forgiveness will be granted and they can resume their work of slaves without punishment or execution. One of the warlords, Ganga Zumba, agrees. Zumbi, who could not tolerate such treason, became head of the resistance that is taking place by 1680. According to some sources, he murdered Ganga Zumba, for working with the Portuguese.
With the support of a strong handle insurgents, Zumbi valiantly resists for fifteen years.He became an icon for his own people, and some say it is partly human and partly inhabited by African minds of orixás (see Candomblé). It is in 1694 that commanders Domingos Jorge Velho and Vieira de Mello, supported with powerful artillery, carry a destructive assault on Palmares. After valiant fighting, Zumbi, seriously wounded, was forced to flee into the jungle. November 20, 1695, Zumbi died in combat in the Serra Dois Irmãos.
This character remains an icon of the anti-slavery and anti-colonial resistance and a hero to the Afro-Brazilian community, Brazil and Latin America in general. On 20 November, the anniversary of his death is considered the day of the conscience and the Afro-Brazilian resistance (Consciência negra).
The Quilombo film (1985) by Brazilian director Carlos Diegues depicts the resistance of Palmares.
The Ganga Zumba was the ruler of the Quilombo of Palmares leaders elected by a meeting.
Two different hypotheses have been advanced.
For the first, the title of Ganga Zumba comes from a dialect of Angola and Nganga was originally written Nzumbi. This title was previously used to designate the souls healers priests, to which we gave the power to communicate with the dead.
For the second, Ganga Zumba is written in the Angolan Kimbundu Ganazumba dialect and means "Great Lord." There are traces of that script in the archives of the University of Coimbra, in a letter written to Ganga Zumba by the governor of Pernambuco in 1678.
Ambiguity remains about the nature of Ganga Zumba: was it the name of a slave or a title? For the historian Peter Fryer , it is a title. Rare historical documents seem to support this hypothesis, since it seems difficult to accept that a slave has conveniently carried the name "Great Lord" before becoming effective. It would be the same for the Zumbi, identified as an individual, but that is actually the title of a military commander.
However it may be that we have specifically identified the Ganga Zumba, certainly more significant than others carry the same title and that we have personified the function of Ganga Zumba to the point that Ganga Zumba has become a personal name.
Functions of Ganga Zumba
Although the Quilombo of Palmares is seen as an area where people lived equals, a meeting of leaders voted to elect a representative or supreme king, named Ganga Zumba. It ruled a territory of ten mocambos (slave shelter) valued at nearly 600,000 square kilometers in 1630 and comprising approximately 11,000 souls, black, mestizo, Indian and even white. The center of the Government of Ganga Zumba was the largest village of Palmares, Cerra dos Macacos. The other nine shelters slaves were held by members of his family. Around 1670 the Ganga Zumba had a palace, three wives, guards, ministers and devoted subjects.
In 1678, the Ganga Zumba agreed to a peace treaty with the Portuguese governor of Pernambuco in which he pledged to move its domain to the Cucaú Valley. Zumbi then, said to be his nephew would have raised and led a rebellion against his uncle. In the confusion, the Ganga Zumba was poisoned and many of his supporters who obeyed his order and moved to the valley Cucaú were again reduced to the status of slaves by the Portuguese. Zumbi perpetuated resistance against the Portuguese.