This feature is designed to spark your interest in researching the world of capoeira's vocabulary, history, and philosophy.

Our Capoeira Wiki-Word series invites you to research the word of the week and post your definition(s) and translations. At the end of each week, the entries will be reviewed and then summarized into a translation and a definition of the Capoeira Wiki-Word of the week.

Submit your entries in the comments section below!

This week's Capoeira Wiki-Word is:


As with last week, there is the literal translation, and then there is the translation in the capoeira context



Nice work folks!

I would like to add the following...

1. Zumbi is the portuguese word for zombie

2. Google has a timeline of events pulled from various sources across the internet. I find it to be pretty comprehensive. The sources also give insight into the different versions of the history that exist.

Zumbi dos Palmares Google Timeline (copy and past the url into your browser): <href=>

Pulled from this many sourced timeline... I like this page. It is consistent with lectures I have heard about Zumbi...

for the text of the page read on...


Zumbi dos Palmares

November 20th

On this date in 1695, Zumbi dos Palmares, the last leader of Brazil’s most famous free colony of fugitive slaves, was captured by the Portuguese and summarily beheaded.

From the very beginning of European settlement in the New Wold, quilombo communities of escaped slaves, free-born blacks, Indians, poor whites, and mixed-race outcasts formed at the fringes of slave states.

Colonial power did not welcome their presence. Consequently, the community of Palmares faced repeated harassment from the Portuguese and the Dutch West Indies Company from the time of its establishment around 1600 — even as it burgeoned into a kingdom of over 30,000 inhabitants.

Zumbi, a black free-born in Palmares, was kidnapped by such a sortie and raised with a missionary priest who taught him Portuguese and Latin. At 15, he escaped and returned to Palmares, quickly rising to prominence and in 1678 overthrowing his adoptive uncle King Ganga Zumba when the latter attempted to accept peace under Portuguese rule.

Zumbi’s skepticism was vindicated when the followers of Zumba who had defected to Portugal were re-enslaved, but free Palmares soon faced intensified Portuguese pressure. In 1694, artillery finally battered its largest settlement into submission — forcing its ruler into the bush, where he long eluded capture.

In Zumbi’s honor, November 20 is a Brazilian celebration of national pride and especially pride for those of African descent … while the king who would not be a slave has lent his name, somewhat paradoxically, to an international airport.

3. Since the quilombos were home to many escaped African slaves, it is believed by many that they brought their martial traditions with them. This only makes sense given that quilombos were fully functional societies and even nation states. Therefore, it is believed that the roots or some of the roots of capoeira were formed in some way in the quilombos.

In the capoeira context, Zumbi's persona and history are reminders of capoeira's history, and what capoeira mean for many people today. Given that capoeira is of afro-brazilian origin, it is easy to see how Zumbi has become a symbol of the liberation and pride that capoeiristas feel about themselves and their art.

4. We will explore quilombos more in another Wiki-Word installment.