Friday, March 11, 2011

The benefits of homework: quilombos

I know I've complained in the past about the amount of time I've had to spend on homework with my kids.  It's not easy in your own language to get your kids to do homework; imagine trying to help them in a language that you don't speak very well. 

But today, I really enjoyed working with Dora.  She had to do some research on quilombos, and I couldn't find the word in dictionary, so I resorted to the internet.  Quilombos were essentially communities ("republics" by one definition) of escaped slaves around Brazil.  The largest one was Palmares, and may have had a population of over 20,000 at one time.  The quilombos elected their own leadership, (kings sometimes, in the African tradition) and had their own traditions and celebrations.  Black Awareness Day (or "Dia da Consciência Negra" in Portuguese) is recognized on November 20th, the day that 2 leaders of the Palmares quilombo died.  They had been leading a resistance to the Portuguese (I'll have to check my facts here), and were killed on November 20th.  This is what I can recall from memory.  If you are interested in reading more, go here or here.  Or you can look for the movie, "Quilombo" which is supposed to mostly historically accurate. 


  1. I learned the word two years ago in Argentina. It's fun to know that in some Spanish speaking countries of South America "kilombo" also means "mess", "disorder" or "chaos". It also means "prostitution house". I wonder if there is some kind of historical racism in that.

  2. Good old Dora! I think she is hilarious in Portuguese!

  3. Hey Rachel, I was perplexed by your comment, then I realize that I forgot to clarify: my oldest daughter's name is Dora! We named her after my grandmother, and since she was our first, and we knew nothing about popular kid's cartoons, we were oblivious. Until we introduced our new little baby to a 3 year old, and he TOTALLY freaked out. My Dora loves to say that she HATES Dora the explorer...