May 11, 2012 in Home & Away
Discover the diaspora in Brazil! Brazil boasts the 2nd largest Black population in the world, behind Nigeria. The Black descendants of African slaves constitute one half of Brazil’s total population. During the horrific and abominable salve trade of the 17 and 1800′s, half a million Black Africans were imported, as chattel, to the United States. In comparison, more than 3 million Black Africans were imported to the nation of Brazil from 1550 to 1888! ”Slavery in Brazil shaped the country’s social structure and ethnic lanscape…and was a mainstay of the Brazilian economy, especially in mining, cotton and sugar cane production.”
If you want to venture into authentically Black Brazil, start in one of the 1500 or more quilombos scattered about the country. Quilombos ”were originally remote villages or collections of villages founded by runaway slaves, often hidden in the jungle. In quilombos, escaped slaves kept alive the cultures and lifestyles brought over from Africa. They also became bastions in the struggle for freedom,”as reported by The Final Call.
One such quilombo is a community on a 600 acre tract of land in Rio de Janeiro called Campinho. Campinho is flowing with lush gardens, vast open areas and plenty of natural, rich water resources. The tract was finally granted to the descendents of slaves by the Brazilian government in 1999 as a form of reparations, after a long political struggle dating back 40 years. Campinho was the first quilombo to obtain a formal collective land ownership title.
According to oral tradition, the former landowners of Campinho walked away from their property after the abolition of slavery. Three slave women are credited with rounding up slaves in the jungle and starting the community, and all the families in the region are reported to be their descendants.
Campinho has a rich culture that is inherently tied to the land, and the agricultural production of native crops like casava, corn, beans and rice are still a mainstay. A matriarchal community where women are revered land-owners, and business owners of cachaca distilleries–Brazilian liquor distilled from sugar cane. Ecological and ethnic tourism projects, jungle hikes and cultural activities, including the sale of traditional goods and crafts and traditional dance recitals–that reach back to a purely African past.
The old women in the region breed and rear queens. They say they teach the young girls daily that “the worst sin is to let themselves be enslaved by anything.” And that, “in a woman’s land, the woman never dies.” The grandmother’s of Campinho are on constant guard, protecting their heritage, and are adamant that they will ”survive with dignity.”
Planning a trip in late fall would be a bonus, as November 20th is National Black Awareness Day in Brazil. Contact the sisters at African American Travel Agency for trip planning. You will need a passport to travel, and excellent accommodations are close by. Discover the diaspora in the South American state of Quilombos de Camphino, Brazil!