Afro-Brazilians - History and Cultural Relations

There is a rich history of the arrival of African slaves from different religious backgrounds (e.g., Yoruba, Fon, Ewe [Gege], Hausa, Angdon), beginning in the sixteenth century; of African adaptations and resistance to slavery; of Brazil-born individuals of African ancestry; and of cooperation and conflicts between Brazilian-born Africans and newly arrived slaves. New importations of slaves continued into the nineteenth century, particularly between 1807 and 1835. Contributing to the discontents of the newcomers was the disdain other slaves exhibited toward them because of their inability to speak Portuguese, the tribal and ethnic markings on their faces, and their non-European religions—for example, some of the Yorubas were Muslims. Newly imported Yorubas organized the Revolt of the Males (the term "Male" is believed to derive from "I-male"—the followers of the Imam) in 1835. Despite this and other acts of resistance, abolition did not occur until 13 May 1888.

Although there has been a tendency to focus on slaves of Yoruba (western Nigerian) origin, especially because of the preeminence of Yoruba religious traditions in Brazil, African slaves came from a much wider geographical area, stretching from the Guinea coast to present-day Angola, Mozambique, and Zaire. Increasing attention is being paid to Bantu influences in Brazil, especially in the area surrounding Rio de Janeiro and in the state of Minas Gerais, a movement away from Yorubacentrism, under the sway of which Yoruba traditions were studied to the exclusion of those of other continental African groups that made major contributions to the formation of Afro-Brazilian culture.

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