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he term "quilombo" comes from the words “kilombo” from the Quimbundo language and “ochilombo” from the Umbundo language. There are yet other African languages with similar words that designate the same thing.

T In some parts of Brazil, quilombos also received the name of “mocambos”. In its original meaning, "quilombo" refers to a place of rest, used by nomadic populations. In Brazil, the word took on new dimensions: a quilombo came to be known as a community of runaway slaves. In these communities, these slaves lived according to their original African cultures - religiously and socially. In some quilombos they even attempted to appoint tribal kings. Dedicated to subsistence economy and rarely to trade, some quilombos were successful. Hidden in the middle of forests, those that prospered transformed into villages. There are many records of quilombos throughout Brazil, principally in the following states: Alagoas, Bahia, Pernambuco, Goiás, Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

The main reason for why quilombos were situated in the middle of forests was strategic. This difficult accessibility was purposely chosen to avoid being recaptured. The quilombos that were well hidden generally ended up surviving. It is important to remember that often these quilombos sheltered not only slaves, but also Indians and other 'wanted' members of society who were escaping law enforcement at the time.

The inhabitants of these quilombos, called “quilombolas”, had been runaway slaves to their masters since the early days of the colonial period. The majority of quilombolas suffered persecution from rich land-owners. These land-owners would often take back a runaway slave and punish them, as an example for the other slaves to see.

Source: historiabrasileira.com

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