Conditions of African Slaves
Between 1550 and 1850 at least eleven million Africans were forced to migrate to a new world to work as slaves. 40% of these arrived in the Brazil and it was the last territory to abolish the slavery in 1988. Firstly they started to work on sugar plantation and later in the gold and diamond mines of the Minas Geris. Transportation of African slaves continued until 1850, when the British put pressure to end the slave trade.
Three million slaves were transported between 1800 and 1850.Slaves attempted to maintain a mixed culture of preexisting gender norms both from Africa and Brazil. The Slaves had destroyed their gender identities as compared to ideals of gender were employed by the white Brazilian society. Epitomizing this fact are the punishments assigned to slaves and no legal rights to slaves were given. Female slave were sexually exploited. African and Brazilian gender norms were handled as Master slave like form.
1Historian Mary Karasch asserts that within the institution of slavery, specifically in the frontier and rural parts of Brazil, most women participated in occupations deemed to be feminine by the broader Brazilian culture. Furthermore, she claims that these female-dominated jobs included child care, food and clothing production, and domestic service. For instance, in early nineteenth century Goias, slave women, in addition to being agricultural laborers in the engenhos, commonly functioned as cozinheras (cooks), charged with feeding entire plantations.1As we have discussed slavery conditions with perspective of the social and economical conditions of slaves. However it will be appropriate to discuss the case of the Chica da Silva. Francis da Silva de Oliveria was known as Chica da Silva.
Chica da Silva was a slave lived in the Brazil in the days of high diamond production. Her mythical figure has served to represent the sensuality of the black woman and capacity for the race mixing relationship of Brazilian society. This slave woman became legendary for her relationship with the diamond contractor, Joao Fernandes de Oliveira, who had the monopoly on extraction of ore in the region of the hamlet of Tejuco, today the city of Diamantina, in Minas Gerais.1 The myth of the Chica de Silva began to build up by nineteenth century when story of a slave and her relationship with a diamond contractor started. Local writers had added some positive features to the image of the legendary slave and described her woman of very rare beauty.
Since that time the character had been immortalized in poems, novels, televisions serials and in cinema, with the film XICA DE SILVA directed by the Caca Diegues, in 1975. Joao Fernandes and de Salive lived together as they had been married officially form 1755 to 1770. She acted like a lady of local elite. She had educated her daughters at the best educational establishment of the Minas. Chica de Silva always sought the social placement of her and her children in the bosom of local elite. This was not credited to the Joao Fernandes as he returned to Portugal to resolve the family dispute, and it was the de Saliva who founded the mechanisms to sustain her status like other freedwomen of Tejuco.
The degree of social success that she obtained was the fact that she had always addressed and her children belonged to principal brotherhoods. She become the owner of many slaves and lived near to the local people. She died on Febuary15, 1796 in Tejuco. 2Different from the myths that emerged around the Chica de Silva she was not queen of the slave and nor the shrew. She knew how to take advantage of the system offered her and her actions among the white elite were always aimed at diminishing the stigma that color and slavery had imposed on her and of promoting the social ascension of her descendents.