canário negro

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Quilombos of Brazil, Tyrone Turner

Largely conducted out of sight of Europeans, the complex interplay between black and red is a hidden drama that historians and archaeologists have only recently begun to unravel. Nowhere is the presence of this lost chapter more in evidence than in Brazil, where thousands of maroon communities are emerging from the shadows, reaffirming their mixed culture and pressing for legal title to the land they have occupied since the era of slavery. The stakes are high: New laws are giving Brazil’s maroon communities, called quilombos (the word for “settlement” in the Angolan language of Kimbundu), a key role in determining the future of the great Amazon forest.

1 - Terecô priest Pedro de Souza is “channeling” a menacing female spirit: A client has hired him to cast spells on her unfaithful husband. Terecô is one of the quilombos’ many hybrid religions, interweaving African and Christian beliefs with native practices.

2 - Jacey Mendes of Santiago “kills the hunger” with a shot of cachaça, or sugarcane rum. She’s helping clear land to grow cassava root using a slash-and-burn method that some sharecroppers have come to rely on.

3 - A villager dressed as a bull parades through northeastern Brazil during the festival of Bumba-Meu-Boi, when virtually every quilombo, and every village and town, celebrates the hero of a Brazilian folktale. In the story a bull is killed by a slave eager to appease his pregnant wife’s craving for bull tongue, and then is magically restored to life.

4 - A lone chimney is all that remains of a sugar plantation in Frechal, which was partially deeded to former slaves in 1925. The quilombo applied for, and received, protected status in 1992.