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.
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Escravidão translates to slavery.
Slavery in Brazil shaped the country's social structure and ethnic landscape. During the colonial epoch and for over six decades after the 1822 independence, slavery was a mainstay of the Brazilian economy, especially in mining, cotton, and sugar cane production.
Brazil obtained an estimated 35% of all enslaved Africans traded in the Atlantic slave trade. More than 3 million Africans were sent to Brazil to work mainly on sugar cane plantations from the 16th to the 19th century. Starting around 1550, the Portuguese began to trade enslaved Africans due to two main reasons:
- The unenculturated indigenous peoples deteriorated rapidly, and became increasingly wary of the Portuguese, thus, obtaining new indigenous slaves was becoming harder and harder.
- The Portuguese Empire, at the time, controlled some stages within the African slave trade's commercial chain, thus, providing the Brazilian landholders with the opportunity to import slaves from Portuguese trading posts in Africa. Portuguese, Brazilian, and African slave traders managed to profit even more from the increased demand.
During the 15th century, after realising the extension and importance of slave trading for the African economy, the Kingdom of Portugal's soldiers, explorers and merchants involved themselves in the trade in black enslaved Africans along with other tradable items through the establishment of several coastal trading posts. Starting around 1550, the Portuguese began to trade African slaves to work the sugar plantations they were developing in their newly discovered colony of Brazil, once the European discoverers needed more human resources to use in the new continent, and the numbers of native indigenous peoples had declined. Although Portuguese Prime Minister Marquês de Pombal abolished slavery in mainland Portugal on February 12, 1761, slavery continued in Portugal's overseas colonies, particularly in Brazil, until its final abolition in 1888.
The enslaved Africans were useful for the sugar plantations in many ways. They were less vulnerable to tropical diseases. Slavery was practiced among all classes. From the late 18th century to the 1830s, including by the time of the Rebellions in Bahia, slaves were owned by the upper and middle classes, by the poor, and even by other slaves.
The benefits of using the enslaved Africans far exceeded the costs to the owners. After 2–3 years, enslaved Africans repaid the cost of buying them, and slave plantation owners began to make profits from them. Brazil's plantation owners made lucrative profits per year. The very harsh manual labour of the sugar cane fields involved slaves using hoes to dig large trenches. They planted sugar cane in the trenches and then used their bare hands to spread manure.