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Article

Like many slaves from Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) during the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), Pablo Alí crossed the border to serve in the Spanish colonial army of Santo Domingo (present-day Dominican Republic) as a means of obtaining his freedom. In 1795Spain ceded Santo Domingo to France. Alí subsequently participated in the War of Reconquest, in which French troops were defeated and Santo Domingo was reunited with Spain (1809). In 1811 the Spanish throne named him first colonel and granted him a gold medal in recognition of his service to the Crown.

In 1820 Alí served as colonel of the Batallón de Morenos (Black Batallion) in Santo Domingo. After learning that his application for Spanish citizenship had been denied, in 1821 Alí pledged his loyalty to the insurrectionists, led by José de Núñez Cáceres and served as their chief military commander That same year ...

Article

John Burdick

The worship of Anastacia began in Brazil in the early 1970s The devotion to her centers upon a striking portrait of a young black woman with piercing blue eyes wearing a face iron an iron face mask that slaves were made to wear as a form of punishment Legend has it that Anastacia was tortured with the face iron when she refused to submit to the lust of her master Legend also has it that before she died she forgave her master and cured his child of a fatal disease Although the Catholic Church denounces the devotion to her as superstition at best and heresy at worst millions of Brazilians of all colors are deeply devoted to this woman whom they regard as possessing in death unparalleled supernatural powers Many of her devotees carry a small medallion of her image around their neck others keep a card with her ...

Article

Anton  

Jean Mutaba Rahier

In 1553 Anton and twenty-two other slaves embarked from Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, as part of merchandise bound for the Peruvian port of Callao. The ship wrecked off the coast of Esmeraldas, and the twenty-three slaves killed their Spanish captors and escaped into the forest.

At that time various small indigenous groups inhabited central Esmeraldas: the Niguas, Yumbos, Campaces, Lachas, and Malabas. The first contact of the maroons was with the Niguas and the Yumbos. As the groups clashed, the maroons enjoyed an advantage in combat, owing to the surprise provoked by their arrival and the firearms they had liberated from the shipwreck. Anton was nicknamed “the big sorcerer,” and his witchcraft skills were also a decisive factor in instilling fear into the Niguas and gaining their respect.

Through Anton's leadership the maroons increasingly dominated the indigenous communities. Sebastian Alonso de Illescas gradually established himself as Anton s ...

Article

Mohammah Baquaqua was born in 1824 in Zoogoo, (probably a small village in present-day Angola) in central Africa, to a fairly prosperous family. He was raised in an Islamic household and was sent by his father to the local mosque to study the Qur'an (Koran), the sacred text central to Islamic worship. Unsatisfied with school, he left to learn the trade of making needles and knives with his uncle in another village. Baquaqua was captured and enslaved after a struggle for the succession of the local throne. His brother managed to find someone who was able to purchase Baquaqua's freedom. Baquaqua returned to his hometown and became a bodyguard to the local king, where he noted the corruption of the royal armed forces that looted the citizens of the city.

A group of individuals apparently envious of his close association with the king engineered Baquaqua s capture and ...

Article

As with other maroon settlements (communities of runaway slaves) in the Americas, few records exist that explore the history and culture of the Peruvian settlement called Huachipa (1712–1713). Even scarcer is the information on the settlement's most notable leader, Francisco Congo. Also called Chavelilla, Congo had escaped from servitude in Pisco, near the capital city of Lima, and arrived in Huachipa in early 1713, shortly after its establishment. He was welcomed into the community by its leader, Martín Terranovo.

Named mayor and captain of the community Congo handled both administrative and military duties A struggle for leadership began among members of different African tribal groups in the community which eventually became a fight between Martín and Francisco Congo During the fight Congo was severely injured and left for dead He mysteriously recovered and killed Martín His amazing recovery led to a belief that his triumph was ...

Article

Cudjoe  

Alonford James Robinson

The life and death of the Jamaican maroon (fugitive slave), Cudjoe, has become a symbol of black resistance in Jamaica. Cudjoe's story as the eighteenth century leader of the Clarendon maroons has also been a contested part of Jamaican history. Early European descriptions painted a caricatured portrait of him, while black recollections portrayed him as a fearless soldier.

Cudjoe was among more than 500 African-born slaves in the Jamaican parish of St. Clarendon who escaped after a violent insurrection in 1690. Cudjoe emerged as leader of a loose confederation of runaway slaves who lived in the Clarendon hills. The Clarendon maroons, led by Cudjoe, organized themselves into small gangs that secretly wandered into white towns to steal food and weapons.

Even though the Clarendon maroons were disunited they became skilled soldiers and expert marksmen Under Cudjoe s leadership they defended their freedom in a series of small skirmishes ...

Article

Peter Hudson

The history of black people in Canada can be dated from the early seventeenth-century expeditions of French explorer Pierre du Gua sieur de Monts Traveling with du Gua was an African man Mathieu da Costa who worked as an interpreter between the French and the indigenous Mic Mac people ...

Article

Richard Watts

Jean-Claude Duvalier was born while his father, the tyrannical François Duvalier, (“Papa Doc”), was in political exile in the countryside of Haiti, and so spent the first years of his life in hiding. When Papa Doc assumed the presidency in 1957, he began grooming Jean-Claude, merely six years old, as his successor. On January 22, 1971, François Duvalier announced that, upon his own death, his nineteen-year-old son would assume the role of president for life. After his father's death later that year, Jean-Claude essentially became a figurehead for the regime while his mother, Simone Ovide Duvalier, ran the country.

Over time however young Duvalier assumed more power He appointed members of Haiti s mulatto elite whom he had met in school to important posts in his government and invited some of the departed elite to return promising that no risk of persecution existed Duvalier s ...

Article

Son of a minor cacique (chief) of the Bahoruco (steep mountains in southeastern Hispaniola) and an orphan since the massacre of the Indian chiefs of Xaragua by Nicolas Ovando, Enriquillo had been raised by Dominican monks, who taught him to speak, read, and write Spanish.

As happened with most Indians at the time, Enriquillo was given as a slave to a brutal Spaniard, Valenzuela, who abused him and tried to rape Enriquillo's young wife. Enriquillo escaped with his family, taking with him some Indian slaves, determined, like himself, to live free or die in the attempt.

Valenzuela pursued the fugitives with a troop of twelve armed Spanish soldiers and attacked Enriquillo s encampment Two Spaniards were killed others were wounded and Valenzuela was captured by Enriquillo s men On setting his old master free the rebel cacique sent him away with those words Thank God I am a Christian ...

Article

Lysius Felicité Salomon Jeune, Ida Salomon's father, had been finance minister and one of the most important advisors of the president and self-proclaimed emperor of Haiti, Faustin Elie Soulouque. When Soulouque was overthrown by General Fabre-Nicolas Geffrard, in 1857, Lysius Salomon fled to France, attracted by the similarity of language, manners, and culture. Salomon, who was a widower, married Florentine Potiez, a much younger French woman from a wealthy family.

Called to the presidency in 1879, Salomon returned to Haiti with his new wife. Ida was born to the presidential couple in 1882. Ida Salomon inherited her mother s beauty and her father s fortune When she was only six years old her father was overthrown and she was sent to France to be raised by her mother s family Ida Salomon occasionally visited Haiti where the properties left to her ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Whether bought by Russians at the slave markets of Constantinople, or by the tsar himself in the Netherlands, scholars agree that Abram, who was born in Eritrea and asserted that he was the son of an Ethiopian prince, entered Russia in 1700 and began his service with the Royal Court in 1705. Within two years Abram, who later adopted the surname Hannibal, had won the favor of Tsar Peter I, known as Peter the Great, who became his godfather when he joined the Russian Orthodox Church. The newly baptized Abram Petrov served as the tsar's personal valet both in Russia and away from it during his military campaigns.

After nine years in service to the court, the tsar sent Hannibal to Paris for further education. In 1718 he joined the French army to gain access to the best military engineering program and during his service he was ...

Article

Born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Albert John Luthuli was educated at the mission school in which he later taught (1921–1936). The son of well-respected Zulu parents, Luthuli was elected chief of the Zulu Abasemakholweni ethnic group in Groutville in 1936. He joined the African National Congress, a black political group, in 1946 and took an increasingly active role in campaigns to abolish Apartheid, the system of racial segregation in South Africa. In 1952 he was removed as chief by the South African government, which opposed his activities, and was forbidden to enter major South African cities and towns for one year. That same year he was elected president-general of the African National Congress. Because of his continued political activities, he was restricted to his farm in Groutville for two years in 1953, and again in 1959 for five years For ...

Article

Paulette Poujol-Oriol

Though little is known about Makandal's early life and much of the information about him is shrouded in myth, this famous maroon has become a legendary figure. Most prominent historians do not mention him, but he has become a symbol of Haitian national identity, and all schoolchildren in Haiti learn about his life.

Makandal is said to have come to the French-ruled colony of Saint Domingue (now Haiti) around 1750. Slave traders had bought him on the coast of Guinea, in Africa, and he was taken to the colony, where he worked as a field hand.

According to accounts of his life, Makandal did not submit to slavery for very long. He soon escaped to the woods, becoming a maroon a fugitive slave Prizes were offered for his capture but he escaped all ambushes It is also said that Makandal was a learned man that he ...

Article

Juan Otero-Garabis

As a child, Esteban Montejo escaped a sugar plantation to live as a maroon until the abolition of slavery in 1885. His memories were published by the Cuban writer Miguel Barnet in Maroon's Biography (1966), considered a pioneering work of the Latin American testimonial genre. The first part of the book is one of the most detailed descriptions of the harsh working and living conditions of slaves on the sugar plantations. Montejo's account of his survival as a solitary runaway affirms that hunger and lack of shelter were preferable to living the life of a slave.

In the last part of the book Montejo narrates his experience in the Cuban Liberation Army during the Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898). His account underscores the important role played by the Afro-Cuban officials and soldiers, particularly of Antonio Maceo This section of the book also describes the ...

Article

slave, teacher, world traveler, and Union soldier in the U.S. Civil War, was born in Kouka, the capital of Bornu. Said was his mother's ninth child; all told, he had eighteen siblings. In the early nineteenth century, Bornu (spelled Bornou in Said's narrative) was a kingdom that was home to the Kanuri people of north-central Africa. His father, Barca Gana, born into a prominent Muslim family, was the eldest son of the ruling chief of Molgoy. A military man, he was a highly valued lieutenant of the King of Bornu. Said's mother also came from a prominent family: she was the daughter of a Mandra chief. Said's family owned several slaves.

Nicholas spent much of his childhood studying Islam and in formal schooling He learned to read and write in both his native tongue and Arabic He also had a great passion for hunting and often persuaded his friends ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Ignatius Sancho was born on a slave ship en route to the West Indies; both of his parents died during the journey, casualties of the Middle Passage. Never having lived in Africa, Sancho was in many ways a product of Western civilization. His letters, written between 1768 and 1780, and published posthumously in 1782, proved to the English public that an African could not only master the language and literature of England but become a discriminating reader and a discerning critic.

Upon arriving in Britain, Sancho was bought by three sisters in Greenwich who treated him poorly and denied him education. But the sisters' neighbors, the Duke and Duchess of Montague, were impressed by Sancho's curiosity about books and his quick mind and secretly lent him materials to read. In 1749 when the sisters threatened to sell him into American slavery Sancho fled to the ...

Article

Michelle Gueraldi

In every version of her life story, Francisca “Xica” da Silva is described as a slave who was freed by João Fernandes de Oliveira around 1760. Fernandes was a contratador, or a vassal of the Portuguese Crown, sent to the province of Minas Gerais in colonial Brazil to explore the soil for diamonds and gold. Da Silva lived and worked as a slave until she was purchased by Oliveira, who lived with da Silva as her husband despite the racial prejudice that existed at that time in Brazil.

Instead of sending the mineral riches he discovered to Portugal Oliveira kept them for himself and became a very rich man He and da Silva lived a luxurious life in Arraial do Tijuco a small village in Minas Gerais He built a palace imported gifts for da Silva from all over the world including gold and diamonds and built her ...

Article

Ben Penglase

At the end of the nineteenth century, just at the time of the abolition of slavery in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro's Praça Onze was the center of a neighborhood composed largely of Afro-Brazilians. Many of these people were recent migrants from the state of Bahia, and the Praça Onze neighborhood became known as “Pequena África” (or small Africa). Tia Ciata moved to Rio from Bahia at the age of twenty-two, and during the day worked selling home-cooked food at a food stall. Tia Ciata was also deeply involved in the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé. At night and on the weekends she hosted gatherings at her home in Praça Onze that united some of the most famous black Brazilian musicians and composers, probably serving as one of the birthplaces of Samba music.

See also Afro-Brazilian Culture.