The March 8 mobilizations this year in Bahia had as their theme the bicentenary of the independence of Brazil in Bahia and the protagonism of Bahian women in the battles and uprisings that led to the definitive defeat of Portugal on July 2, 1923.
In this interview, we talk with Régia Mabel da Silva Freitas about these women, some whose faces and stories are beginning to be rescued from historical obliteration and many others that we have yet to meet.
:: Case of Marielle: “My mother should be remembered for her trajectory, not for the unanswered crime” ::
A black feminist anti-racist woman, as she prefers to be presented, Mabel Freitas is also a postdoctoral fellow in Education at USP, a doctor in Diffusion of Knowledge at UFBA, a researcher in Race Relations and a resident of Itaparica Island, one of the stages of the battles of Independence.
Brasil de Fato: Last year, the country celebrated the bicentenary of independence, but Bahia always makes the reservation that the country’s independence only came true on July 2, 1823, right? Could you talk briefly about the importance of Bahia in this process?
Régia Mabel da Silva Freitas: The painting “Independence or Death” by Pedro Américo makes invisible and disregards all the bravery of real Ancestral Pretagonists in the fight against Portuguese subjugation. With all due respect to artistic freedom, reality undoubtedly did not inspire him. As Brazil became a valuable colony of Portugal, the partial victory that took place on September 7, 1822 was “just” another chapter in a long history filled with the insubmissive, disruptive and insurrectionary popular movement of indigenous, enslaved, enslaved, freed and freed people. free among others and others.
The invaders, underestimating the popular brilliance of the Bahian People’s Intelligence Headquarters, continued to attack us for many months. Therefore, it is essential to highlight the importance of January 7, 1823, which culminated in the retreat of the Portuguese troops after the four uninterrupted assaults that took place on the Island of Itaparica in which indigenous people, shellfish gatherers and fishermen and other popular people fought boldly by creating traps, pitfalls and ambushes using as weapons stones, axes, knives, chunchos and even leaves of fatigue.
Furthermore, it is also worth highlighting the 2nd of July 1823 – our historic libertarian apogee – when finally the Marauders were definitively defeated after bloody battles in our soteropolitan trenches of Aflitos, Campo da Pólvora, Carmo, Forte de São Pedro, Piedade, São Bento, among others. others – all this after the unforgettable fights that preceded them in Cabrito and Pirajá. In this way, we must celebrate the Bicentennial of our Independence in July of this year, 2023.
:: How mining captures the imagination of young Yanomami ::
What is the participation of women in the independence struggles in Bahia?
Women actively participated in the struggles for independence, however, unfortunately, Brazilian historiography reports little about this salutary narrative of female bravery. In the first place, it insists that participating in a war is not “only” wielding weapons and shedding the blood of adversaries; After all, political activism is not just killing and dying.
Thus, at the very least, they continued to provide for the home in the absence of their respective spouses. Furthermore, thanks to their intelligence, dexterity in different areas and courage, many women contributed to our liberation by acting behind the scenes, however we only name three famous heroines – Joana Angélica, Maria Quitéria and Maria Felipa – who exposed themselves in war trenches. The sexagenarian soror Joana Angélica bravely defended the Convent of Lapa from the invasion of the Portuguese who entered to capture the Brazilian soldiers and, even though it was sacrilege to kill a nun, she was brutally murdered.
Maria Quitéria, known among the Parakeet Battalion as Soldado Medeiros, dressed in her brother-in-law’s soldier’s clothing, enlisted and waged war with great ingenuity in riding and handling weapons. The astute black Maria Felipa, leading more than forty superstars – sentry women –, faced the Portuguese troops taking the Portuguese soldiers to the beach and, when they were all naked, thinking that they would once again carry out the so common colonial rape, they received a beating from fatigue – a leaf that causes burning and itching of the skin – while other women and also other men set fire to the ships in the middle of the sea.
And it wasn’t just women from the capital of Bahia who participated in the fights, right?! Was there also participation of leaders in more cities?
Numerous anonymous women from different cities in Bahia also contributed to our long-awaited emancipation in the triumphal battle of Cachoeira, as well as Caetité, Chapada Diamantina, Denodada Vila de Itaparica, Maragogipe, Nazaré das Farinhas, Santo Amaro, São Francisco do Conde, among other municipalities. I would very much like to list the female pleiad in which the libertarian verve pulsed with fervor, however they are still unknown names and faces in our national historiography.
I manage, however, to highlight, in addition to the native of Feira de Santana Maria Quitéria and the Itaparicana of Gameleira Maria Felipa, three stars who fought bravely led by her there on this most beautiful island in Brazil, namely: Brígida do Vale, Joana Soaleira and Marcolina.
Mabel, why do we need to rescue this memory of women’s participation in historic acts like these?
It is urgent that historical acts – and especially heroic deeds – finally be presented in a decolonial perspective, refuting the colonial metric that is Caucasian, classist, heteronormative, homo/transphobic, misogynistic, racist and sexist. It is no longer possible to perpetuate narratives in which multiple social groups – such as women and, in particular, us, black women – are still made invisible and stereotyped without the legitimate recognition that with great mastery we constitute Brazilianness.
From “disturbing woman” to “skilled combatant” and from “angry black woman” to “fearless candace”, the path is arduous and long for this necessary paradigm shift that finally recognizes the importance of our female belligerence for successful episodes in history. I wish that, from now on, all of us know, publicize and applaud the painting “Allegory on January 7, 1823”, by Professor Mike Sam Chagas, from the School of Fine Arts, Federal University of Bahia, which inspired (this time!) for reality, portrays indigenous, black men and women as Ancestral Pretagonist icons who freed us from Portuguese tyranny in Itaparica, a beautiful island in Bahia of All Saints, Orixás, Voduns and Inquices.
Why do we, as a society, choose to “forget” the presence of women in our history?
We didn’t even choose to “forget”, since we weren’t given the opportunity to make that selection. The deliberate screening that conscientiously did not spread the importance of female genius for warlike victories in our Brazilian historiography was carried out previously and, when it reached us, it merely socialized a story in the villainy of the patriarchal prism, composed of exquisite touches of androcentrism, uttered by hegemonic voices of sexism, which delight in the bitter taste of misogyny and exhale in the atmosphere the regrettably so naturalized fetid odor of structural machismo.
Source: BdF Bahia
Edition: Alfredo Portugal
Leave a Reply