University of Wisconsin–Madison

Quilombo do Camorim

By Malina Barker

Quilombos are historically rural communities established by fleeing enslaved Africans. In these, the residents would all help each other, especially because many who made the journey were injured. On 9 June, we headed to the Quilombo do Camorim, near the Atlantic rainforest. The Quilombo do Camorim was named after a fish caught by local residents. Adilson Batista Almeida, the founder, president and director of the Camorim Cultural Association (ACUCA), and a direct descendant of members of the Quilombo do Camorim, took us on a tour of the Quilombo. Throughout the tour, he explained the difficulties the Quilombo faced in modern times, such as the intense opposition to being recognized as a quilombo in 2014, mostly by developers who desired to use the land for continued urbanization. The construction around the quilombo has also caused the waterflow to be diverted from the community to urban areas.

Throughout the excursion, Mr. Almeida continued to stress his mission of connecting the past to the future in order to bring understanding to others, break down stereotypes and initiate conversation. As a matter of fact, he and his daughter—who he says represents the future—now work together in promoting the quilombo and educating others about its history and its future. During the visit, we walked throughout the area, and saw what residents in the quilombo might have seen and walked where they might have walked. When we came to the cave high up in the forest in which they established themselves and survived, it was extremely humbling for us to be able to comprehend their experiences. It is deeply saddening to realize that their descendants still face the marginalization and discrimination they faced. Mr. Almeida emphasized his pride of being a “quilombola” (an inhabitant of the quilombo or a descendant of those who lived in the quilombo) and looks to the future with his head high. Camorim has been able to receive attention from media and interviews allowing for it to have a louder voice.

Students dance and clap along to the drumming of Mr. Almeida, his daughter and other members of the community
Mr. Almeida talks about the Cameron River and of its importance to the quilombo
Mr. Almeida showcases the graffiti wall that shows the history of the quilombo. In this picture, he shows artwork done by children and what they view as the important landmarks of the quilombo.
: Mr. Almeida stands with an indigenous tree that he planted 18 years ago and emphasizes that you cannot have history without the environment. He says he has planted thousands of trees over the years and views them as family.
Mr. Almeida attempts to teach us how to play the drums correctly in a rhythmic beat; his father watches, nodding approvingly. His father’s presence also emphasises the important connection between the past and future as well as familial ties in the quilombo.