The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were marked byfeatured lanes of the transatlantic slave trade, characteriszing the dynamics of the African diasporaDiaspora to in these lands. It is not news surprising to anyone that the fundamental basis of colonialism in Brazil was African slave labour but the data never ceases to surprise: in a period of just 22 years – between 1757 and 1779 – more than 25,000 black Africans were sold, only in the State of Maranhãao.
The document “Intercultural Dialogues – A look at the African roots of the Quilombo communities of Maranhão,” traces the path of the transatlantic slave trade, revealing the origin of blacks transported to Brazil, the emergence of the so-called Quilombo – small concentrations of runaway slaves which represented aa resistance to slavery – and the characteristics of the Quilombola Quilombo communities today.
A collection of research – conducted simultaneously in Brazil, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, in slave markets – that brings you back in time to the difficult years of slavery, noting how enslaved Africans, disgusted appalled with their conditions, and fleeingfled their “masters” by organiszing themselves into their own sheltered communities – the Quilombo. Divided into three chapters, this collection of research also examines a return to their origins ? contrary to the routes of the Portuguese ships going to Brazil it looks at the roots of the Quilombolas in Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, gathering the main cultural events of everyday Quilombola, the ?tabanca? of Guinea-Bissau and the interior of the island of Santiago.
Aware and proud of their history and secular culture, the Quilombolas struggle today within Brazilian society, especially as regards the constitutional recognition of the right to difference and self-determination. With a history still largely unknown, they are among the most vulnerable and marginaliszed communities throughout in Brazil, with low levels of human development and facing further marginaliszation of their social and cultural values.
“Intercultural Dialogues” emerges as a way to safeguard and value the Quilombolas traditions. The IMVF and its partners – the Association of Rural Black Quilombo Communities of Maranhão, the NGO Platform of Cape Verde and Guinean NGO Action for Development – made this research one of the activities of the project “The Quilombos Path: From Africa to Brazil and back”. Co-financed by the European Commission and the Portuguese Cooperation, the project sought executed over three years (2009-2012), aimed to contribute to greater respect for the Quilombo?s human rights and the promotion of richer intercultural dialogue through protection, enhancement and dissemination of the Quilombola culture – not only in Brazil but also in Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and Portugal.
Apart from this research, the project also promoted cultural exchange – a true return to the African origins by a group of 21 Quilomboslas – the realiszation of a documentary record of this culture – which culminated in the production ‘Kilombos’ ? as well as textbooks for distribution to schools, among other activities.