• Quilombos

    With the dis­cov­ery of gold in the state of Minas Gerais in 1763, the colo­nial cap­i­tal of Brazil was trans­ferred from Bahia to Rio de Janeiro and was renamed the Cap­i­tal do Vice — Reino do Brazil, or the vice king­dom of Brazil’s Cap­i­tal. Dur­ing this time, many of the slave revolts through­out the coun­try had been suc­cess­ful and the escaped Africans (along with the indige­nous and some white slaves) had begun to form autonomous jun­gle com­mu­ni­ties called ‘quilombos’. The most suc­cess­ful of these quilom­bos were: Campo Grande, formed circa 1750 Car­lota, circa 1750 Pal­mares, circa 1770 Jabaquara 1880

    The Repub­lic of the Pal­mares (Quilom­bos dos Pal­mares) was the most famous of these slave com­mu­ni­ties and was hid­den in the Belly Hills of Alagoas state (Serra da Bar­riga) in the North of Brazil. Despite strong oppo­si­tion from the author­i­ties, Pal­mares sur­vived for almost a cen­tury and reached a pop­u­la­tion of around twenty thou­sand. The strength of this legendary quilombo has often been attrib­uted to the black war­rior Zumbi, who was said to have been the nephew of an African princess and one of Pal­mares great­est lead­ers. Using the rit­u­als of Capoeira as inspi­ra­tion, King Zumbi moti­vated his humil­i­ated peo­ple to find a unity and fight for free­dom. In 1869, the secret loca­tion of Pal­mares was revealed to the author­i­ties by a turn­coat slave and the quilombo was even­tu­ally destroyed. After its destruc­tion, Capoeira war­riors from this and other rene­gade quilom­bos united into self made armies and began to plun­der cities of Brazil, par­tic­u­larly Rio de Janeiro.

    Finally, on the 13th of May 1888, Por­tuguese Princess Isabel offi­cially lib­er­ated all Africans from slav­ery in Brazil. After so called lib­er­a­tion, many capoeiris­tas became body­guards for politi­cians (the real own­ers of power in the new repub­li­can of Brazil) Fur­ther­more, a great major­ity of the newly freed Africans could not find employ­ment and just “hung out” on the city streets, form­ing pow­er­ful Capoeira gangs called mal­tas. Capoeira’s rep­u­ta­tion lead it’s teach­ing to be pro­hib­ited. Capoeira was not to be eas­ily dis­posed of how­ever and the game was revived in Bahia, when it was intro­duced into for­mal mar­tial art acad­e­mies in the 1930’s. It has even been said that Bahia was the only place in Brazil were Capoeira sur­vived in its full cul­tural and artis­tic form.

    The revival was lead by Mr Manoel Bimba dos Reis Machado, who started to teach a new style of play he had named: Luta Baiana Regional or the Bahian Regional Fight. In the 1940’s Mas­ter Bimba per­formed this new dis­ci­pline in an offi­cial demon­stra­tion for the Brazil­ian author­i­ties. Soon after, Capoeira was pro­claimed by Pres­i­dent Getulio Var­gas as the authen­tic “National Mar­tial Art Sport of Brazil”.