quilombo (from the Kimbundu word kilombo) is a Brazilian hinterland settlement founded by people of African origin, Quilombolas, or Maroons. Most of the
inhabitants of quilombos were escaped former slaves and, in some
cases, a minority of marginalised Portuguese, Brazilian
aboriginals, Jews and Arabs, and/or other non-black, non-slave Brazilians
that faced oppression during colonization.
Some quilombos were near Portuguese settlements and active both in
defending against capitães do
commissioned to recapture slaves and in facilitating
the escape of even more slaves. For this reason, they were targets of the
Portuguese colonial authorities and,
later, of the Brazilian state and slaveowners.
quilombos that were farther from Portuguese settlements and the
later Brazilian cities were tolerated and still exist as towns
today, with their dwellers speaking distinctly
languages. In the
-speaking countries of
, such a settlement is
called a palenque
and its inhabitants are
who speak various Spanish
-based creole languages
widely believed that the term quilombo establishes a link
between Palmares and the culture of central Angola where the
majority of slaves were forcibly brought to Brazil, because, during
the time of the slave trafficking, natives in central Angola,
called Imbangala, had created an
institution called a kilombo that united various tribes of
diverse lineage into a community designed for military resistance
during that time of upheaval.
However, the documentation on
Palmares typically uses the term mocambo to describe the
settlements, and quilombo was not used until the 1670s and then
primarily in more southerly parts of Brazil.
famous quilombo was Palmares, an
independent, self-sustaining republic near Recife, established
in about 1600.
Part of the reason for the massive size of
the quilombo at Palmares was because of its location in Brazil,
which was at the median point between the Atlantic Ocean and
Guinea, an important area of the African slave trade
. At its height,
Palmares was massive and consisted of several settlements with a
combined population of over 30,000 renegades, mostly blacks
. Ganga Zumba and
Zumbi are the two most well known
warrior-leaders of Palmares which, after a history of conflict
with, first, Dutch and then
Portuguese colonial authorities,
finally fell to a Portuguese artillery assault in
In Brazil, both men are honored as heroes and symbols of black
pride, freedom and democracy
to this day.
Zumbi's execution date (as his birthday is unknown), November 20
, is acknowledged as National Black
Awareness Day, and his image has appeared on postage stamps
In the Spanish dialect of the River Plate
, the word
has come to mean brothel
, and later big mess
Venezuelan Spanish, it means boondocks.
A 1984 film titled Quilombo
depicts the rise and fall of Palmares. Directed by Carlos Diegues
mystical, yet mostly accurate, historical epic that chronicles the
lives of Ganga Zumba and Zumbi.
The quilombos protected by Brazilian Constitution
The 1988 Constitution of
granted the remaining quilombos the collective ownership
of the lands they have occupied since colonial times, thus
recognizing their distinct identity at the same level of the
- quilombo at the Diccionario de la
Real Academia Española.
- Quilombo at IMDB