The Chronicle of Chicaba: Sue Houchins on the Trials of an African Nun

Painting. Mother Teresa Juliana, called “the negrita of Salamanca” (+ 1748), supposed daughter of the king of “la Mina Baxa de el Oro” (Guinea), Dominican at the Convento de las Dominicas Duenãs at Salamanca, in adoration.

SOR TERESA CHICABA—the African nun of Salamanca who spent several years in a sequestered monastery after her enslavement—represents the embodiment of the Black Diaspora. Born around 1676 presumably somewhere off the coast of Mina in West Africa (the part that comprises present-day Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria), captured and enslaved at the age of nine, transported somehow to Spain, and purchased by the Marchioness of Mancera (wife of the Marquis), Chicaba’s story weaves together a series of narratives—about the racial, religious, and national identities of Africans and Europeans in the eighteenth-century—that are difficult to unravel.

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