GREAT BLACK LEADERS: ZUMBI (1655-1695) OF PALMARES, By RUNOKO RASHIDI
The great Black leader that we celebrate today is Zumbi of Palmares. Palmares, about the size of the country of Portugal and located in Brazil, has been called the first republic in the Western Hemisphere. For a century it fended off both the Portuguese and the Dutch. It was made up of Africans who refused to accept enslavement and who established a free African nation deep in the interior of Brazil. The greatest of the leaders of Palmares was Zumbi. Said to have been born in Angola, Zumbi was captured by the Portuguese at the age of seven and escaped from enslavement in Brazil at the age of 15. In Palmares, Zumbi’s character is best exemplified by this refusal to have any negotiations with the Portuguese over the issue of slavery. He vowed not to lay down his weapons until not a single African remained enslaved. He fought until the end. Indeed, the day that he was captured and executed, November 20, is today a day of African consciousness and resistance in Brazil. Yes, Zumbi of Palmares was truly a great Black leader!
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