Ganga Zumba or Ganzazumba is best known as the leader of the slave Brazilian escaped slave alliance of Quilombo dos Palmares during the late 17th century.
Ganga Zumba’s Early Life
His origins are somewhat murky. It’s believed that he was Kongo royalty being the son of Princess Aqualtune. He was likely captured following the Battle of Mbwila when Portugal defeated the Kingdom of Kongo. As a result, Ganga and his siblings are sent to Brazil’s Santa Rita Plantation.
King of Quilombo dos Palmares
Sometime later Ganga and his family escaped to Palmares. Originally a mocambo, Palmares and several other mocambos grew in size as more slaves escaped. From there, they formed a confederation of settlements collectively known as Quilombo dos Palmares.
Ganga Zumba becomes king over the alliance and is based in Cerro dos Macacos. As a result, the men of Ganga’s line are the chiefs of other settlements. At the height of his power, he develops Macaco to be a hub for governance of the alliance. It had a palace, armed guards, and a governing body. Overall, Macaco had 1,500 houses for loyalists, close officials, guards, and family.
Ganga’s end came in 1678. In attempting to establish a treaty with Brazil’s colonial governor, a condition was for the Palmares alliance to move elsewhere—the Cucau Valley. His nephew, Zumbi, disapproved and staged a coup against him.
Ganga Zumba is poisoned later that year, dying at 48. The common belief is that it was by those siding with Zumbi. Those loyal to Ganga would move to the Cucau Valley to re-establish Palmares. Unfortunately, they would be captured and placed back into slavery. To hold on to Palmares territory, Zumbi turns his revolt on the Portuguese.