History: DR. LEONARD JEFFRIES HONORS ZUMBI DOS PALMARES

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[Education: History]

On June 15, 2013, Dr. Leonard Kweku Jeffries, the co-founder and vice-president of World African Diaspora Union (WADU) gave an excellent allocution on “Zumbi dos Palmares and the Global African Revolution” at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center in Washington Heights.

Prior to Dr. Jeffries’ delivery, the Peoples Survival Program, Universal Zulu Nation, and the Kemetic Masters of the Martial Arts showed the 1984 film “Quilombo” which elucidates the rise of the Quilombolas, or Maroons, under the leadership of Zumbi and their valorous battles against the Portuguese in Brazil.

Zumbi was born free in 1655 at a Portuguese colony in Brazil called Alagoas. He said in 1661, at the tender age of six, Zumbi was apprehended by the Portuguese and sold to Father Antonio Melo. Within nine years of his detainment, Zumbi freed himself from Father Melo’s captivity to later become the King of the Quilombo dos Palmares and one of the most feared military strategist in world history.

Zumbi was betrayed by a mulatto who led the Portuguese to his remote settlement. The Portuguese took Zumbi into custody and decapitated him at the age of 39 on November 20, 1695.  Dr. Jeffries said the Portuguese publically displayed Zumbi's severed head to send a message of terror to other Africans who might consider adopting Zumbi’s valor and to illustrate to the Quilombolas that Zumbi was not immortal and godlike. However, the Quilombolas continued to engage in warfare with the Portuguese until the 18th century and they presently still remain in their quilombos.

As a remote settlement in Bahia, Brazil, the quilombo was established in the 1600s by enslaved Africans known as Quilombolas who sought sovereignty and fought to terminate their oppression as delivered by the Dutch and Portuguese. The Quilombolas' military utilized Capoeria, an African-Brazilian martial arts system and other military tactics to secure their settlements and keep the Portuguese at bay. Some scholars estimate that the Quilombolas are the posterities of the Imbangala --Mbangala-- warriors of Angola who also fought the Portuguese. The Imbangala were the warriors from Angola who founded and established the Kasanje Kingdom.

The Quilombolas’ war with the Portuguese lasted until the 18th century and coincided with Queen Nzingha’s courageous battles against the Dutch and Portuguese. However, the battles of Anacaona, supreme Caciques (leader) of Hispaniola (Haiti / Dominican Republic) with the Spaniards from 1492 until her death in 1503 preceded that of the Quilombolas and served as a paradigm for future generations of African revolutionaries in the Western Hemisphere.

Case in point: the African Maroon Padrejean’s, or Padre Jean or Pedro Juan, of Saint –Dominique (Haiti) audacious battles against the French in1676 along with those of an African Maroon by the name of Francois Makandal (Neg Yosef) who spearheaded a revolutionary movement in Saint –Dominique (Haiti) from 1751-1757. Makandal’s revolutionary spirit was later captured by Boukman, a maroon and houngan (Vodou priest) in 1791, and brilliantly executed by General Jean-Jacques Dessalines in 1804 – thus, abolishing slavery in Haiti and establishing Haiti as the first recognizable African sovereign nation outside of Africa. 

Dr. Jeffries said the African revolutionary struggle continues as Africans are fighting globally to retain their African mines while trying to maintain their African minds which are constantly being under attack by foreign forces and external diseconomies. However, using a system analysis, Dr. Jeffries concluded with a positive note by citing strong economic growth in numerous African countries; the establishment of the potential political power of Haiti joining the African Union to be followed by other Caribbean nations;  and the cultural emergence of a new African Renaissance as expressed by upcoming young African scholars, such as Reggie Mabry, founder of the “Black Millionaire Code” who, through his groundbreaking research, uncovered the “Secret of the ANKH” and postulates that the African is not a race, but a species where all other races derived. For Dr. Jeffries, these current economic, political, and cultural developments within the global African community are not only promising, but revolutionary.

Professor Patrick Delices is a political analyst/commentator for the Black Star News and the author of “The Digital Economy,” Journal of International Affairs. For nearly a decade, Prof. Delices has taught Africana Studies at Hunter College. He also served as a research fellow for the late Pulitzer Prize recipient, Dr. Manning Marable at Columbia University. 

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