The History of Women… Oshun, ancient Orisha of Love 

The History of Women… Oshun, ancient Orisha of Love 

Oxun is fertility & love; she is fresh water.  Kissed by the golden nurturing of the sun, she is also beautiful and kind.  

Oshun

Oshun es agua Fresca y ternura, y ella mantiene todo el poder de sensualidad y femeninidad en el mundo. 

The Yoruba religion’s holy stories or patakís reveal Ochún (Oshún) as the youngest of all the Orichás. Olodumare (the supreme being) created earth, and sat back to examine his work. 

 In that instant, He knew what was missing: sweetness and love, the two things that make life worth living. He created Ochún and sent her to earth to cultivate those qualities in others. Ochún is the Orichá of love, her seductive and sensual power encapsulates the feminine ideal. 

 In nature, she rules over rivers. Originally all the waters on earth belonged to Yemayá, who is Ochún’s older sister ( in some stories, her mother). But one day when Ogún was hotly pursuing Ochún across the fields and forests, the young Orichá fell into the river and was dragged away by whirlpools. Yemayá took Ochún under her protection, and gave the rivers to her so she could have her own kingdom. From that point on, the rivers belonged to Ochún and the ocean to Yemayá.

Yemayá and Ochún have a close relationship and often work together, especially in issues related to romance, marriage, and motherhood. Yemayá is a mature, motherly type who watches over children and protects babies in the womb. Ochún is the seductive and sensual Orichá who makes sure babies are conceived. She inspires sexual love and promotes fertility. Once her job is done, she usually loses interest and hands over the child rearing to her more maternal sister.  

Oshun is the goddess of the sweet waters and the protective deity of the River Oshun in Nigeria. Alongside this river is a sacred grove, probably the last in Yoruba Culture, dedicated to Oshun.

The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is a dense forest on the outskirts of Osogbo town, western Nigeria. Sacred Groved were often found in areas where the Yoruba lived, and every town had one.  These sacred groves as time passed were either abandoned or they shrank in size, apart from the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove. This sacred grove boasts 40 shrines, plus 2 palaces, as well as many sculptures and works of arts. Due to its unique status, the Osun-Osongbo Sacred Grove was inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005. 

Legend has it, that villages from a nearby area were in search of water, and decided to settle along the river near the present town of Osogbo. These new settlers did not know this land belonged to Oshun. One day, the community was preparing the ground for the planting season, a tree fell into the river, and a voice emerged from the river lamenting: “You have destroyed my dyeing pots.” The village was filled with fear so they wanted nothing more but to appease the goddess. They were successful in their undertaking, Oshun advised the community to settle in the upper part of the river, for humans and spirits could not live together. The villagers complied with Oshun’s command, and the former settlement became the Osun-Osongbo Sacred Grove.

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Me Gritarron Negra!!!!

Me Gritarron Negra!!!!

Victoria Eugenia Santa Cruz

This La Vida En Black History Month message is so nice I had to do it twice… This story goes deep into the heart of Peruvian culture with the Heroine of Black Peru; Victoria Eugenia Santa Cruz Gamarra, a much celebrated poet, composer, choreographer, designer, + an exponent of Afro-Peruvian art.

The daughter of writer / playwright, Nicomedes Santa Cruz Aparicio and Victoria Gamarra, their family was famous for their excellence in creative pursuits including the development of Zamacueca an ancient colonial dance and music with a mixture of roots from Africa to the Andes.
Victoria was one of 10 children born into the family. Her brothers are renown – Cesar is a musician and composer; Rafael the Bull Fighter isdeamed “untorero de gran clase” or the Wonderous Black Matador; and Nicomedes; the preeminent scholar of Afro-Peruvian culture. 
Victoria received a scholarship to attend the Université du Theatre des Nations in Paris where she was educated in costuming and choreography. She created unforgettable costumes for the play “The Altarpiece of Don Cristobal”. And made a triumphant return to Peru. In 1968 she founded the Teatro y Danzas Negras del Perú, / Black Dance Theatre of Peru, inspiring a new and diverse period in Peru for the study of black culture.
Her choreography became a part of the fabric of Peruvian culture so much so that her talented group represented the nation at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Victoria won numerous prestigious awards including Best Folklorist at the Primer Festival y Seminario Latinoamericano de Televisión en 1970.
She was a special guest of the Colombian government at the Festival de Cali in 1971. There she notably recognized that the black roots of Cali did not come from just one country of origin but from several African nations, so much like the various slaves brought to the Americas.
Santa Cruz’s name became synonymous with the cultural identity of Peru and in 1973 Victoria became the director of the National Folklore for the National Institute of Culture (INC) /Conjunto Nacional de Folclore del Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INC). She continued to spread her love of Afro-Peruvian culture throughout the world, teaching at Carnegie Mellon University, and in Europe at the Teatro del Sole, in Italy.
She passed away in 2014 surrounded by her beautiful family, the legendary Ambassador of Peruvian culture was lain to rest at the Peruvian National Musuem. Her poem “Me Gritaron Negra” They Screamed “Black” At Me, became a beautiful badge of honor for Afro-Latinos every where. Performed here by Victoria and then by a little Ecuadorian girl…

Lyrics
Español  / English
Tenía siete años apenas,  /  Maybe I was seven years old,

apenas siete años,  /  Maybe seven years,

¡Qué siete años!  /  What seven years old!

¡No llegaba a cinco siquiera! /  I wasn’t even five yet!

De pronto unas voces en la calle / when some voices in the street

me gritaron ¡Negra!  / screamed at me ¡Negra! (Black Girl!)

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! /  Black! Black! Black! Black!
¡Negra! ¡Negra!¡Negra! /  Back! Black! Black!
¿Soy acaso negra?, me dije /  I thought, Am I? Am I really Black?
¡SI! /  Yes!
¿Qué cosa es ser negra? /  What does it mean to be black?

¡Negra! Black!

Y yo no sabía la triste verdad / And I didn’t know the sad truth
que aquello escondía. / That it was hiding

¡Negra! /  Black!

Y me sentí negra, /  And I felt black,

¡Negra! / Black!

Como ellos decían / Just like their screams

¡Negra! / Black!

Y retrocedí / And I rejected it

¡Negra! / Black!

Como ellos querían / Just like they wanted

¡Negra!  /  Black!
Y odié mis cabellos / And I hated my hair
y mis labios gruesos / And my thick lips

y miré apenada mi carne tostada / and I was ashamed of my toasted skin

Y retrocedí  / And I rejected it

¡Negra! /  Black!

Y retrocedí. /  And I rejected it.
¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black!

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Neeegra! /  Black! Black! Black!

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black!

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black!
Y pasaba el tiempo, / And the time passed by,

y siempre amargada / And I was always bitter

Seguía llevando a mi espalda / I carried this heavy load

mi pesada carga. / on my back.

¡Y cómo pesaba! / And it weighed me down!

Me alacié el cabello,  / I straightened my hair.

me polveé la cara, / I powdered my face,

y entre mis entrañas siempre / And deep down inside of me, I always heard
resonaba la misma palabra /  the same resounding word

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Neeegra! / Black! Black! Blaaaack!

Hasta que un día que retrocedía, / Until one day I so rejected me, 
retrocedía y qué iba a caer  / rejected to the point where I  put my own self down

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black! 

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black!

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black! 

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black! 

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! /  Black! Black! Black!

¿Y qué? / So What?

¿Y qué?  / So What?

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Sí! / YES!

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Soy! / I Am!

¡Negra! /  Black!

¡Negra!  /  Black!

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Negra soy! /  I Am Black!

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Sí ! / Yes!

¡Soy! / I am!

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Negra!  / Black!

¡Negra! /  Black!

¡Negra soy! / I am Black!

De hoy en adelante no quiero /  From this day forward I will not

laciar mi cabello /  straighten my hair
No quiero / I do not want to!
Y voy a reírme de aquellos, / & I’m gonna laugh at those who

que por evitar / by avoiding
–según ellos– /  according to them

que por evitarnos algún sin sabor/   To avoid the “bad taste”

Llaman a los negros / call black people,
gente de color / people of color

¿Y de qué color? / And what color is that?

¡NEGRO! ¡NEGRO! / BLACK! BLACK!

¡Y qué lindo suena! / And how beautiful it sounds!

NEGRO NEGRO

¡Y qué ritmo tiene! And what rhythm it has!

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

Al fin! / Finally!

Al fin comprendí,  /  Finally I understood,

¡AL FIN! / FINALLY!

Ya no retrocedo / I am not rejected
AL FIN / FINALLY

Y avanzo segura / I move forward with pride

AL FIN / FINALLY

Avanzo y espero / I move forward and wait

AL FIN /  FINALLY

Y bendigo al cielo /  I thank the heavens above
porque quiso Dios /  because God wanted

que negro azabache / like a precious black stone
fuese mi color / I was meant to be my color

Y ya comprendí / and now I understand

AL FIN /  FINALLY

¡Ya tengo la llave! /  I now have the key!

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO

¡Negra soy! / I am Black!

Zumbi dos Palmares

Zumbi dos Palmares

By telling our 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, February 15, 2017

Zumbi was the last leader of the Palmares quilombo, in Brazil. Palmares was a free state founded by the slaves who escaped to live in freedom.  Palmares a land mass equivalent to the size of Portugal and maintained it’s sovereignty for almost a hundred years.  Palmarés flourished in Northeastern Brazil throughout most of the seventeenth century.  Albert_Eckhout_paintingZumbi embodies for Afro-Brazilians, the  personification of the epitome of resistance to the abhorrent slave-trade colonial economy /regime.  Zumbi was the crux of a movement for African descendants to gain and maintain economic and political justice.

The last leader of Palmares is more than a secular hero – Zumbi is a sacred ancestor. His spirit is inherently divine and immortal.  Since the establishment in Brazil of November 20 as National Black Consciousness Day – originally called Zumbi Day – in 1978, popular discourse has increasingly treated Zumbi not only as the premiere Afro-Brazilian hero but also as having constituted on Brazilian soil an alternative to racism and colonialism.

Most of what we know about Palmares comes from accounts of the Dutch and Portuguese campaigns against the quilombo between 1640 and 1695.  These official documents / eye-witness accounts by would-be invaders is the basis for Brazilian history books and ethnography, all of these informed by the racism and intellectual biases of its time. Not surprisingly, most sources have tended to see Palmares as a threat to Portuguese colonial (and, by extension, Brazilian) sovereignty and the quilombo’s defeat as basically a patriotic victory.

Yet, even white commentators have lionized the Afro-Brazilian state on occasion. The nineteenth century Portuguese republican Joaquim Pedro de Oliveira Martins called Palmares “a black Troy, and its story is an Iliad.” Recent generations of Brazilian leftists have seen in Palmares an alternative social order, as in this statement from Freitas: “These rustic black republics reveal the dream of a social order founded on fraternal equality and for this reason are incorporated into the revolutionary tradition of the Brazilian people.”

PALMARES IS BORN

From the moment Africans were kid napped and forced into bondage in the new world; they resisted bondage by flight, or marronage. Archeological evidence reveals the enslaved Africans of Alagoas and Pernambuco escaped & went to the interior. By 1606 a steady stream of slaves, escaped to a mountainous, palm-covered region of Pernambuco and there established a mocambo, or maroon nation of much repute.

The area came to be known as Palmares due to the preponderance of wild palms there. The Palmares region, grew in it’s African population  in the 1630s because of the Dutch invasion of  Brazil.  There where several expeditions into Palmares in attempts to re-enslave the community of free Africans.  At the time of one expedition, there were two large mocambos and any number of smaller ones. By the time of the Blaer-Reijmbach expedition there was at least one large mocambo; another large mocambo had been abandoned three years earlier. The account of the expedition describes the large “Palmares”: It was surrounded by a double palisade with a spike-lined trough inside. This settlement was half a mile long, its street six feet wide. There was a swamp on the north side and large felled trees on the south. We might guess that the clearing was for cultivation or for defensive reasons. There were 220 buildings in the middle of which stood a church, four smithies, and a council house. The population was around 1,500. The ruler of that place, according to the diary, was severely just, punishing sorcerers, as well as those who would flee the mocambo. The king had a house and farms outside the settlement. The narrative also includes description of cultivation and foodstuffs, uses made of the palm, and crafts such as work in straw, gourds, and ceramic.

As was so often the case in the long history of wars against Palmares, the soldiers found the settlement virtually abandoned when they arrived; the Palmarinos would receive advance word of expeditions from their spies in the colonial towns and sugar plantations or engenhos.

RAIDING PALMARES

The external history of Palmares from the expulsion of the Dutch in 1654 to the destruction of Palmares in 1694 is one of frequent Portuguese incursions – sometimes more than one a year – and Palmarino reprisals and raids. In the period 1654 to 1678 there were at least 20 expeditions against Palmares. In the internecine peace, Palmarinos traded with their Portuguese neighbors, exchanging foodstuffs and crafts for arms, munitions, and salt. The trade with Palmares was such that many colonials opposed war with the Palmarinos, and in the 1670s there was widespread opinion that establishing peace with Palmares was the best way to achieve stability in the colony.

Nevertheless, many local planters feared the predatory raids by Palmarinos, real or potential. They also wished to eliminate the lure of escape that Palmares constantly represented to the plantation slaves. In spite of much vacillation, colonial leaders opted again for the destruction of the quilombo, and sent militia captain Fernão Carrilho against them. Carrilho’s campaign of 1676-77 was not only one of the more devastating, but it also gave us the most substantial descriptions of Palmares.

 

park-2This chronicle reports that at this time the king of Palmares was called Ganga-Zumba, which allegedly meant “Great Lord.” He had a palace, guards, ministers, and other officials. His subjects greeted him by kneeling and “clapping” their hands (probably a hand-snapping gesture also used in West Africa). His royal town was Macaco (Portuguese for ‘Monkey’), so named because a monkey was killed at the site. Macaco was fortified by a palisade with embrasures, and around the outside was sewn with iron caltrops and pitfalls.

This mocambo contained more than 1,500 houses. The other towns were ruled by chiefs who lived in them. The mocambo of Subupira, for example, was governed by the king’s brother. It too was fortified and circled with spiked pitfalls, and it comprised more than 800 houses. Subupira was where the Palmarinos trained for war.. The architecture of Macaco and Subupira suggests that Palmares was on a constant war-footing.

KINGDOM AS IN AFRICA

 

The descriptions of Palmares suggest that it had the political structure of a paramount chiefdom or kingdom along Central African lines. Sources sometimes describe Palmares as a “republic” with an “elected” king.  Information is scant on how the state was governed. Perhaps the “election” of the king comes from descriptions of chiefly and bureaucratic checks on the power of the king and the lack of hereditary succession, as in some West African states. It’s also possible that the principal chief was elected by the chiefs of the other villages or even by popular acclaim, like the Imbangala of seventeenth-century Angola.

Ganga-Zumba was probably the title rather than the proper name of the king or chief of Palmares in the 1670s. Despite the title and apparent official function of Bantu origin, the Ganga-Zumba known to history was possibly a native Palmarino of the Ardra Nation, identifiable with the Ewe-speaking Allada state on the Slave Coast.

ZUMBI RAISED BY A PRIEST

 

Zumbi was the war commander of Palmares under Ganga-Zumba. Working from documents not fully cited, Freitas writes that Zumbi was born in 1655. That same year Brãs da Rocha Cardoso led the first Portuguese attack on Palmares after the expulsion of the Dutch. During that otherwise ineffective and unremarkable attack, a baby boy, native to Palmares, was captured and later given to a priest, Antãnio Melo, in the coastal town of Porto Calvo. The boy, baptized Francisco by the priest, was raised as the priest’s protãçgãç and instructed in Portuguese, Latin, and other subjects. At the age of 15, in 1670, the youth ran away to Palmares, although he later continued to visit the priest secretly.

Ganga-Zumba was wounded in an attack on the mocambo of Amaro in November 1677, and a number of his sons, nephews, and grandchildren were captured. The destruction wrought by Carrilho must have had an effect. In 1678, Ganga-Zumba, tired of war, accepted terms of peace from the governor of Pernambuco which affirmed his sovereignty over his people on the condition that he return any fugitive slaves and move his people from Palmares to the Cucaão Valley. Sometime thereafter, Ganga-Zumba and his followers relocated to the Cucaão Valley, closer to the watchful eye of the colonial government.

THE WAR AGAINST THE PORTUGUESE

However, Ganga-Zumba’s treaty did not gain peace. An opposition faction preferred resistance to removal. A ban from Sergeant-Major Manuel Lopes dated 1680 called on “Captain Zumbi” and other rebels to cease their uprising, to adhere to the terms of the treaty, and to join his uncle, Gana-Zona. The document also affirms that in 1680 Zumbi or his partisans had poisoned their king “Ganazumba.” Kent viewed this last act as a “palace revolt.”

Clearly Ganga-Zumba’s concessions caused a rift in Palmares, but the death may also be viewed as the widespread African practice of sanctioned regicide, the ultimate check on royal weakness or abuse. Zumbi, until then a chief and military commander, occupied the capital and was proclaimed the supreme chief. He immediately set about prosecuting the defensive war against the Portuguese, ruling Palmares with dictatorial authority. Zumbi thus ruled Palmares from the time of Ganga-Zumba’s move to Cucaão to the destruction of Palmares in 1694.mapa-1

The broken peace eventually precipitated the enlistment of the aid of the “Bush Captain” Domingos Jorge Velho, a field commander charged with fighting Indians and capturing runaway slaves. This bandeirante, or wilderness tamer, from São Paulo and his irregulars joined forces raised in the Northeast for an assault on Palmares in 1692. In late 1693, after the defeat the year before, a new combined expeditionary force gathered in Porto Calvo. When they reached the heavy fortification of the royal compound of Macaco, they lay siege for 22 days.

depiction-of-the-palmares-quilomboThe attackers were building a counter-fortification when the Palmarinos began abandoning their positions in order to attack from the rear or in order to flee through a break in the opposing fortification. In the ensuing battle on February 5-6, 1694, Jorge Velho took some 400 prisoners. Another 300 died in battle, while some 200 hurled themselves or were forced from the precipice at the rear of the compound. In all, some 500 Palmarinos were killed and over 500 total were taken prisoner in the campaign.

Zumbi had escaped this fatal battle. He continued to skirmish with 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. His mutilated body was identified in Porto Calvo. Then his head was taken to Recife, the capital of Pernambuco, and displayed as proof against claims of his immortality. Jorge Velho fixed the date of Zumbi’s death at November 20, 1695.

LEARNING FROM PALMAS

These events recorded and republished in the historical record over the last four centuries provide the epic material of Zumbi of Palmares. Since the seventeenth century additions and variants have become part of the textual tradition. A case in point is the alternate version of Zumbi’s death, that he hurled himself from the precipice during the final assault on Macaco to avoid capture, committed to history by Sebastião da Rocha Pitta.

This romantic episode has been repeated by numerous historians and creative writers. The version has its basis in the allegations by eyewitnesses that a number of Zumbi’s compatriots met a similar fate. While the secondary sources coincide in great measure of their detail, they also contain contradictions and ambiguities among them. Together the primary and secondary sources have woven the text that is the history of Palmares and have contributed to the creation of the epic myth of Zumbi’s resistance.

The historiography of Palmares, though, is necessarily elite historiography. We do not know of any surviving accounts of Palmares by Palmarinos. The record of popular oral history is scant although it certainly exists.  Doubtless we all stand to learn much still from the efforts of those in disciplines such as folklore, oral history, and archeology. One can only imagine that archives in Brazil, Portugal, and Angola have a wealth of information yet to yield. By now, however, the epic of Palmares has taken a life of its own. As Brazil prepares to celebrate three hundred years of Zumbi’s immortality, it is good for all of us to reflect on what this epic has to teach us. On November 20, when Brazil turns its gaze to the Serra da Barriga in commemoration of Zumbi, it will also be looking forward to ways to create a just society, one that can be a true example to multiethnic societies elsewhere.

Edited by MimiTVA but information and full report from * ** Professor Robert Anderson teaches Portuguese and Latin American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is associated with the Duke-UNC Program in Latin American studies, which has supported his research on Palmares and the Zumbi Tercentenary.

 

 

 

 

La Vida In Black History on MLK…

La Vida In Black History on MLK…
MIMITVA on…
His words will remain timeless much like Jose Marti , Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, President Barack Obama. The thought that words like Freedom, Liberty, Belief in Humanity never go out of style also remain true. As it relates to Latinos, Dr. King met with Roberto Clemente, and had much correspondence with the Secretary of Education of the Emerald Island, Puerto Rico.  Dr. Martin Luther King visited Puerto Rico in 1962, he spoke at the University these are some of his words…
mlk-en-upr-19feb-con-calce-1
“Wherever men are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, Lagos, Nigeria, Accra, Ghana, New York City, Montgomery, Alabama, Jackson, Mississippi, the cry is always the same. We want to be free. And it is more than a solo voice today, it is a mighty chorus, crying out with amazing harmony, and because of this surge towards freedom, we see a new age developing, those of us who live in the 20th century are privileged to stand between two ages, the dying old, and the emerging new. In this sense it is a great time to be alive.
I know there are some people who would argue with me at this point. They would contend that the deep rumblings of discontent around the world and all of the tension which we witness in so many situations are indicative of the fact that we are going backwards, instead of forward.
mlktocrowdThey would contend that we are retrogressing, instead of progressing. But far from representing retrogression and tragic meaninglessness, it may well be that the present tensions that we see in the world are indicative of the fact that a new age is coming into being. For it seems to be both historically and biologically true that there can be no birth and growth without birth and growing pains. An old order is passing away and the new order is coming into being.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, February 14, 1962, in Puerto Rico, Universidad Interamericana Puerto Rico

LaVidaEnBlack History Month Day 18

LaVidaEnBlack History Month Day 18

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…

Graciás Professor Evo or Darwin Peña for your insights, your abundant intellect and all this very interesting information!

MimiTVA Posting from the DMV, Thursday, February 18, 2016

African people’s fight for freedom throughout the Americas began the minute we were illegally captured, stolen and enslaved in the motherland.  Africans who had escaped slavery in Brazil and created their own township or a Quilombo. Quilombo is a portugese word derived  from an Angolan language “Kilombo” and it means a warrior village or settlement. The Quilombo dos Palmares was actually  a country in South America and today it is located in the coastal region known as Alagoas, Brazil.

Quilombo dos Palmares was a self-sustaining settlement that was approximately the size of modern day Portugal.  At it’s most productive, Palmares had over 30,000 residents.  Their great king Ganga Zuma would free every African seeking refuge.

 

In the beginning the settlement of free Africans became a thorn in the side of the Portuguese.  The residents of Palmares sometimes invaded mills to liberate slaves, they would confiscate food, weapons and also abducted women, who were a rare commodity in the quilombo.  Diogo Botelho,the Governor General of Brazil  sent an expedition of 40, 60 soldiers or maybe more, according to some historians. After they destroyed their dwellings and had taken prisoners, the Portuguese thought they had won the battle. However   whenever the Portugese soldiers appeared, Palmares residents retreated into the woods, leaving destruction behind where plantations and cabins that were destroyed and burned. And shortly after new dwellings and plantations were erected.

This constant destruction and subsequent reconstruction was a very difficult way of life and severely stifled the growth of the Quilombo. And then a fortunate little war helped seal the fate of Quilombo dos Palmares. The Dutch landed at Pernambuco in 1630, and tried to rob the profits of sugar from the hands of the other opportunists, the Portuguese and the Spanish, who were at the time under the same king’s reign. This hostile invasion created an absolute uproar in the Northeast region of Brazil. With the Dutch initial victory in 1645, some of the second generation Brazilian Portuguese engaged them in guerrilla warfare. Subsequently these Plantation owners had to enlist their slaves to fight the Dutch, which in turn facilitated their escape. And amid the hostility and chaos, the Quilombo de Palmares grew, with thousands of new free African residents. When the Dutch were finally expelled in 1654, the township had become a powerful land formed by several populated settlements.

depiction-of-the-palmares-quilombo

Rumor has it that the population of Palmares was polygamous and possibly even polyandrous – meaning that a woman could have multiple husbands. To feed the growing population, their economy was a mixture of enterprises, including, hunting, gathering and agriculture.   The Quilombo farmers planted crops such as cassava, sweet potatoes and beans.  There was trade with neighbors. “The idea that Palmares was an isolated refuge in the woods may be true for the first few years of settlement. However, after mid-century, the relationship between blacks and their neighbors certainly evolved into an intense exchange with Indians and whites,” says Flávio Gomes, researcher at the Department of History of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).  A true community was created with belonging , residents and a thriving economy.  Supposedly whites did engage in the Quilombo dos Palmares and it is known that this happened later in quilombos of other regions. Despite their alleged hostility toward whites, there is evidence that livestock farmers brought their flocks to graze in the area of Palmares and maintained trade with the quilobolas to the point of being called, disdainfully “colonists of the blacks.”

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Map of Quilombo dos Palmares

The residents of the Quilombo dos Palmeres apparently did have a good relationship with the  Indians. Archaeological excavations have found Indian pottery, probably contemporary to the quilombo. “It is tempting to make this association and say that Indians were within the quilombo, but we could be dealing with some type of trade,” says American archaeologist Scott Allen, of the Federal University of Alagoas. According to Pedro Paulo Funari, historian and Unicamp archaeologist who joined the first team to take soundings at the site 15 years ago, pottery indicates that there were Indians in Palmares:  “The ceramic production was linked to the attributions of women. The presence of this material in Palmares may mean that the ex-slaves had Indian wives.” Something perfectly consistent with the lack of black women there. Anyway, mestiçagem (racial mixture) was on the tip of the tongue of Palmares inhabitants. Their language seemed to have an African base mixed with words and structures taken from the Portuguese and Tupi – the settlers needed interpreters to speak with them.  Illustrative of its complexity, Quilombo dos Palmares in 1640 was described as comprising several separate settlements which pledged their loyalty to one leader (chief).  Two of the settlements were mostly of Amerindian origin (Subupira e Tabocas); one of Portuguese colonists who joined the quilombo (Amaro), and seven Bantos, that is, settlements of fugitive slaves (Andalaquituche, Macaco, Aqualtene, Ambrabanga, Tabocas, Zumbi, Arotiene). With its capital in Macaco, Palmares possessed a complex social structure, replicating, in many instances, African political systems. – See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/gah/palmares-ca-1605-1694#sthash.WNeQThDC.dpufpark-2

LaVidaEnBlack History Month Day 10

LaVidaEnBlack History Month Day 10

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… Gracias Profe Evo!

Posting from the DMV, February 10, 2016

María Isabel Urrutia Ocoró (born 25 March 1965) is a former weightlifter, athlete and politician from Colombia.  Raised in Valle del Cuaca, she was always a stellar athlete.  Starting out in shot put and the discus throw she represented Colombia in the 1988 Summer Olympics.

On the advice of her coaches, Maria Isabel switched to weightlifting  in 1989 became an amazing champion.  Urrutia won silver at the 1989 World Championships.   She went on to win gold at the 1990, silver 1991, gold 1994, silver 1995, bronze 1996, silver 1997, and bronze at the 1998 World Weightlifting Championships.

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Urrutia won a gold medal in the women’s 75 kg class in the 2000 Summer Olympics  becoming the second Colombian woman to win a medal and the first ever to win gold.  Maria Isabel Urritia is still the only gold medal winner to represent Colombia.  During these games she carried the flag of Colombia in the inaugural parade. Post her Gold medal win, she was honored through out Latin America.

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Colombian flag-bearer Maria Isabel Urrutia leads her team onto the field during the opening ceremony for the Summer Olympics Friday, Sept. 15, 2000, at Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Australia. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)

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Nowadays she is retired from sports but she also became a politician.   Urrutia held a seat in the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia from 2002 to 2010 (twice elected: 2002 and 2006).  A popular elected official she was noted for her excellent legislative results and transparency in governing.

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LaVidaEnBlackHistory Month Day 9

LaVidaEnBlackHistory Month Day 9

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, Tuesday February 9, 2016

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La Lupe

La Lupe was born in Santiago de Cuba in on December 23, 1939.  An electric, frenetic amazing entertainer and singer, she made a name for herself throughout the world coming from a poor town in Cuba to the stages of New York.  This excerpt from her appearance on the Dick Cavett show is unforgettable.

La Lupe was born in the barrio of San Pedrito in Santiago. Her father worked at the local Bacardi distillery and a he of course had a profound influence on Lupe’s early life. In 1954 she participated on a radio program which invited fans to sing imitations of their favorite stars. Lupe skipped school to go sing a bolero of Olga Guillot’s, called Miénteme (Lie to me), and won the competition. The family moved to Havana in 1955, where she was enrolled at the University of Havanna to become a teacher. She admired Celia Cruz and like her, she was planning to be a teacher before starting to sing.

Lupe married Eulogio “Yoyo” Reyes, in 1958 and formed a musical trio Los Tropiccuba with her husband  and another female singer.  Los Tropiccuba broke up in 1960, along with the marriage. She began to perform her own act at a small club in La Habana, La Red (The Net), which had a clientele of distinguished foreigners. She got devoted fans at La Red, the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Marlon Brando. She then released her first album, Con el Diablo en el cuerpo (With the Devil in my body) in 1960, for RCA Victor. Her first television appearance on Puerto Rican television caused an uproar because of her “wild” energy and seemingly sexualized performance, that shocked some viewers.

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Lupe was exiled to México where she asked Celia Cruz to help her get work.   Celia recommended her to Mongo Santamaría in New York. Once she arrived in New York City, Lupe had a standing gig at a cabaret called La Barraca.   She started recording again, making more than 10 records in five years. She also was married and divorced for a second time, to salsa musician Willie García, with whom she had a daughter.

Lupe’s had an amazing vocal range, mastering a full plate of latin music styles – son montuno, bolero, boogaloo, Dominican merengue, plus Puerto Rican bomba and plena. It was her recordings which brought Tite Curet Alonso into prominence as a composer of tough-minded boleros in the salsa style. For a good part of the 1960s she was the most acclaimed Latin singer in New York City due to her partnership with Tito Puente. She did a wide variety of cover versions in either Spanish or accented English, including “Yesterday”, “Dominique” by The Singing Nun, “Twist & Shout”, “Unchained Melody”, “Fever” and “America” from West Side Story. FRED WEINBERG, who was her favorite audio engineer, also produced several of her albums. Weinberg nick named Lupe “A Hurricane” in the studio because of her intensity and enthusiasm.

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Her performances became increasingly decadent. There were rumours of drug addiction and that her force of nature personality made her real life “a real earthquake” according to close friends. She ended some of her performances having  be treated with an oxygen mask. Although she may have been poorly managed by her label Fania Records in particular, she managed and produced herself in mid-career, after parting ways with Tito Puente.  Unfortunately her ephemeral career went downhill, the explosion of the salsa and the arrival of Celia Cruz to New York, were the determining factors of the rapid decline of her career.

A devout follower of Santería, she continued to practice her religion putting at risk the fortune and fame she had acquired through her short career. Her record label, Fania Records, ended her contract in the late 1970s, perhaps simply because of her falling record sales. She retired in 1980, and found herself destitute by the early 1980s. In 1984 she injured her spine while trying to hang a curtain in her humble home; she initially used a wheelchair, then later a cane. An electrical fire made her homeless. After being healed at an evangelical Christian Crusade, La Lupe abandoned her Santería roots and became a born-again Christian. In 1991, she gave a concert at La Sinagoga in New York, singing Christian songs.

She died of a heart attack at just 52 years of age.  She was survived by her second husband William García, son René Camaño (from her first marriage) and her daughter Rainbow García (from her second marriage). She is buried in Saint Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx.