El Yanga: An African Leader of a Maroon Colony of Fugitive Slaves

1 Posted by - June 1, 2018 - BLACK EDUCATION, Black First, BLACK POWER

What is there to know about El Yanga? From what is told El Yanga was a Mexican African abolitionist, and revolutionist in Mexico. It appears he ruled during the early period of the Spanish Colonial Rule. He was born in 1545 on July 31st. Although, he went by the name Yanga, El Yanga, or Nyanga his real name was Gaspar Yanga. He was a member of the royal family of Gabon, Africa. He was kidnapped and placed in the Middle Passage to travel to the new world around 1570.

Yanga, was a born leader. He did not take being enslaved without a fight. He led a band of enslaved Africans to escape to the highlands near Veracruz. There they built a small maroon colony. Because the colony was isolated it helped protect them for over 30years, and other fugitive slaves soon found their way there as well.

El Yanga was born July 31 around the year of 1545. Gaspar Yanga, often called Yanga, El Yanga, or Nyanga, was said to be a member of the royal family of Gabon, Africa, before being kidnapped and placed in the Middle Passage to the new world. Around 1570, Yanga led a band of enslaved Africans in escaping to the highlands near Veracruz. They built a small maroon colony, or palenque. Its isolation helped protect it for more than 30 years, and other fugitive slaves found their way there.

People who survived and lived in the colony did so by raiding caravans and taking goods of travelers. In 1609 the Spanish colonial government decided it had to regain control of this part of the territory. The soldiers under the leadership of Pedro Gonzalez de Herrera set out with 550 troops. At this time Yanga was quite old and knew in order to conquer they would have to use superior wisdom. Upon the approach of the Spanish troops, Yanga sent terms of peace via a captured Spaniard. He asked for a treaty akin to those that had settled hostilities between Indians and Spaniards: an area of self-rule in return for tribute and promises to support the Spanish if they were attacked. In addition, Yanga said this proposed district would return any slaves who might flee to it. This last concession was necessary to soothe the worries of the many slave owners in the region.

However, this was not what the Spaniards wanted so they went into battle. Both sides suffered huge loses. The Spaniards advanced into the maroon settlement and burned it. But, the maroons fled into the surrounding terrain, which they knew well, and the Spaniards could not achieve a conclusive victory. The resulting standoff lasted years; finally, the Spanish agreed to negotiate. Yanga’s terms were agreed. The treaty was signed in 1618. By 1630 the town of San Lorenzo de los Negros de Cerralvo was established. Today in Veracruz’s province, the town in the 21st century is known as Yanga. Yanga was name as a “National Hero of Mexico” and El Primer Libertador de las Americas in 1871, five decades after Mexican independence.

Source — www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/yanga-african-abolitionist-and-rebel-mexico


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