This seminar, delivered by Frances Goodingham from Queen Mary University London, looked at the narrative of slavery in Brazil. We began by discussing how some words, such as cafuné, which cannot be directly translated because you need to understand the context in which the word was originally used to obtain its true meaning.
We learnt about the only first-hand (autobiographical) account of slavery in Brazil, by Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua. In reading some of his writing, specifically about the Middle Passage, we were able to better understand the brutal reality of slavery in Brazil. There are few written accounts because many of the ethnic groups from Africa had oral, not written, traditions.
The discussion about Manoel Joaquim Ricardo was particularly interesting as his life story is intriguing. Manoel was a slave who owned a ‘business’ in Salvador trading in ‘kola nuts’ - possibly a metaphor for slaves. When he died, he was one of the richest men in the city.
I found this seminar both fascinating and enlightening. Looking at individual accounts provided a valuable insight into the complex and diverse narrative of slavery in Brazil. Although I do not speak any Portuguese, I also enjoyed getting a taste of the language.