Afro Brazilian Women Text Media Images Njinga a Mbande: (1581-1663, Kingdom of Matamba)As Queen of Ndongo and Matamba, in Southeast Africa, she marked the history of Angola in the 17th Century. In 1624, after the death of her father and her brother, Njinga became the Queen. She immediately became an exceptional sovereign. Her war and espionage tactics, her qualities as a diplomat, her ability to form multiple and strategic alliances, as well as her knowledge of commerce and religion, allowed for her tenacious resistence to Portuguese colonial projects until her death. ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionDandara of Palmares: (? -1694, Palmares, AL) A warrior in the colonial period of Brazil, Dandara was the wife of Zumbi, the leader of the Quilombo* of Palmares. With him, Dandara had 3 children: Motumbo, Harmodio, and Aristogiton. Valiant, she was one of the Black women leaders who fought against the system of slavery in the 17th Century and helped Zumbi in the strategies and plans of attack and defense of the quilombo. Captured in 1694, she killed herself as to never return to the condition of a slave.*Quilombo- Village created by enslaved African and Afro-Brazilian runaways. Maroon community. ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionTereza da Benguela: (Mato Grosso, 18th Century) She was the leader of a quilombo* in Vila Bela da Santissima Trinidade, the first capital of the State of Mato Grosso. After the death of her husband, Queen Tereza, as she was known, became the leader of the community, bravely resisting slavery for more than 20 years. She commanded the political, economic and administrative structures of the community, confronting many clashes with the Portuguese Crown. She survived until the middle of the 1770s, when the quilombo was destroyed by the forces of the then Governor of the Captaincy. *quilombo- Village created by enslaved African and Afro-Brazilian runaways. Maroon community. ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionRosa Egipciada: (1719-1778, Gold Coast) Also known as Rosa Maria Egipciada da Vera Cruz, she authored "The Sacred Theology of the Divine Love of the Pilgrim Souls," the oldest book written by a Black woman in the history of Brazil. She came to Rio de Janeiro as a slave at the age of 6 years old. When she was 15, she was taken to Minas and worked as a prostitute until the age of 30, when she began to suffer swelling and pain. She sold everything, gave it to the poor, started frequenting liturgies and having mistical visions. She became Mother Rosa and later was acused by the Inquisition. ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionSlave Anastacia: (18th Century) She is a popular Brazilian religous figure of devotion, informally worshipped for her supposed realization of miracles. Revered in Brazil as a saint and a heroine, she is considered one of the most important women in Black history. Her life is a mixture of fighting, bravery, resistence, sweetness and faith. In versions both oral and written, the record talks about a beautiful woman who would not cede to the sexual advances of her master and, therefore, was raped and muzzled. However, there is no material proof of her existence. ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionEsperança Garcia: (Piauí, mid-18th Century) She was born on a Jesuit farm, where Nazaré do Piauí stands today. At 9 years of age, the Order was expelled from Piauí, and she was taken as a slave to the house of Capitain Antonio Vieira de Couto. On September 6, 1770, she wrote a letter to the governor, Gonçalo Lourenço Botelho de Castro, denouncing the maltreatment that she suffered. She escaped soon after, reappearing in the record in relation to workers on a farm, dated 1778, married to an Angolan named Ignacio and with 7 children. Esperança Garcia's letter is considered to be the first petition written by a woman in the history of the State of Piauí, which became the precursor to advocacy in the state. ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionMaria Felipa de Oliveira: (? - 04/jul/1873, Itaparica Island, BA) Born on Itaparica Island, date unknown, Maria was a seafood vendor, a fisherwoman, a laborer, and the leader of a group of 200 people, among them Black women and indigenous Tupinambas and Tapuias, in the battles against the Portuguese who attacked the island. The descendant of Blacks who were enslaved in the Sudan, together with Maria Quiteria and Joana Angelica, she participated in the fight for Bahia's independence. ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionLuisa Mahin: (19th Century, Gold Goast) Born in the Gold Coast region of Guinea in the beginning of the 19th Century, she was brought to Brazil as a slave. A member of the Mahi people, of the African nation of Nago, Luisa was involved in the articulation of all of the revolts and slave uprisings that shook the then Province of Bahia in the first decades of the 19th Century. A snackshop owner by profession, her menu board was used to send messages in Arabic, which boys would collect when they got their snacks from her. In this fashion, she was involved in the Male Revolt (1835) and in the Sabinada (1837-1838). ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionTia Ciata: (1854-1924) Hilaria Batista de Almeida, known as "Auntie Ciata", was born in Bahia and came to Rio at the age of 22, and formed a new family when she married Joao Baptista da Silva, a civil servant who had 14 children. A respected Holy Mother in Candomble, Tia Ciata is the most famous of the Baiana "Aunties" who had a major role in the emergence of Samba in Rio de Janeiro. She was a venerated priestess, a great restauranteur, and one of the great figures in the Black culture of the nascent favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Her house, at 117 Visconde de Itauna Street, was the capital of Little Africa, and frequented by the likes of Pixinguinha, Donga, Heitor dos Prazeres, Joao de Baiana and Sinho. ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionMae Menininha: (1894-1986, Salvador, BA) Maria Escolastica da Conceiçao Nazare, daughter of Oshun, was from the Gantois terreiro*. Considered the great Holy Mother of Candomble in Brazil, Menininha of Gantois was a great spiritual leader who helped foster acceptance for the religion she inherited from her African ancestors. Her aversion to fame did not impede her from receiving many tributes, especially from artists and her illustrious friends. Among them, the most well-known is the song, “Prayer for Mother Menininha,” that Dorival Caymmi composed in 1972.*terreiro: In Candomble and other traditional African religions, the “terreiro” is the place where the group gathers to practice their rituals. A practitioner belongs to a specific “terreiro” the way a Christian belongs to a specific church, a Jew belongs to a specific synagogue, or a Muslim belongs to a specific mosque. ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionClementina de Jesus: (1901, Valença, RJ - 1987, Rio de Janeiro, RJ)She was born in a traditional Jongo* territory in the outskirts of Valença. At the age of 8, she came with her family to the nighborhood of Oswaldo Cruz in Rio de Janeiro and studied in a Catholic boarding school. From her mother, she learned prayers in Jeje, Nago, and songs in dialect. These influences resulted in a sincretic mysticism and a musicality marked by samba and traditional slave songs from the countryside. She played an important role in the emergence of the Portela samba school. In 1940, she married and moved to Mangueira. She worked as a domestic for more than 20 years, until she was “discovered” by composer Herminio Bello de Carvalho. She is considered the queen of the alto voice for her unmistakable timbre. *Jongo is a drum rhythm, a song and a dance originating from Congo-Angola, which was continued by the enslaved in rural Brazil. Today, descendants keep this tradition in both rural and urban strongholds. ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionAntonieta de Barros: (1901-1952, Florianopolis, SC)Antonieta was a journalist, teacher and a politician. An inspiration to the Black Movement who was erased from the history books, she was an active defender of women's emancipation, of everyone's right to a quality education, and for the recognition of Black culture, especially in the south of the country. As the first woman and the first Black Brazilian to win a popular election, she became a State Representative. ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionLaudelina de Campos Melo: (1904-1991, São Paulo) She was a defender of the rights of women and of domestic workers. She founded the first union for domestic workers in Brazil. ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionLelia Gonzalez: (1935, Belo Horizonte, MG – 1994, Rio de Janeiro, RJ) Lelia was a Brazilian intellectual, politician, teacher, and anthropologist. The daughter of a Black railway worker and an Indigenous domestic worker, she was the penultimate of 18 children. She earned a BA in History and Philosophy, an MA in Social Communications, and a PhD in Political Anthropology. She helped found institutions like the Unified Black Movement (MNU) and her militancy in defending Black women took her to the National Council for the Rights of Women. ~ Source: IPN permanent collectionElza Soares: (Rio de Janeiro, 1937- ) The most revered Brazilian singer and composer was born and raised in a favela in Padre Miguel. She was married to a friend of her father's at the age of 11. By the age of 21, she was a widow with 5 children. Six years later, she married the football player, Garrincha, whom she divorced in 1983. In spite of a life of tribulations, Elza always appears happy, singing and smiling, which is an example of victory for those who have passed through similar difficulties in life. In 1999, London BBC Radio elected her as the Brazilian Singer of the Millennium. ~ Source: IPN permanent collection Metadata Cite this Page“Afro Brazilian Women,” Afro-Rio Walking Tour, accessed December 6, 2023, https://www.afroriowalkingtour.com/items/show/22.