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Educação & Realidade

versão impressa ISSN 0100-3143versão On-line ISSN 2175-6236

Educ. Real. vol.44 no.2 Porto Alegre  2019  Epub 15-Jul-2019 


Afro-Brazilian Heritage in the Context of Quilombola School Education1

Elaine MonteiroI

Maria Clareth Gonçalves ReisII

IUniversidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), Niterói/RJ - Brazil

IIUniversidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro (UENF), Campos/RJ - Brazil


This article proposes reflections on quilombola childhoods, in the plural. It starts with the conception of quilombo to discuss values ​​that base relations of care and education of childhood and affirm the black identity. Childhoods in quilombola communities in the state of Rio de Janeiro, field of action and research of the authors, and changes in the insertion of children in Jongo as affirmation of quilombola identity are presented as contribution to the proposed reflections. Finally, based on legal frameworks in the field of education and questioning challenges posed to the implementation of the National Curriculum Guidelines for Quilombola School Education, it discusses quilombola education as a duty and right of memory and affirmation of black identity.

Keywords: Childhood; Quilombo; Education; Jongo; Educational Legislation


Este artigo propõe reflexões sobre infâncias quilombolas, no plural. Parte da concepção de quilombo para discutir valores que fundamentam relações de cuidado e de educação da infância e afirmam a identidade negra. Infâncias quilombolas do estado do Rio de Janeiro, campo de atuação e de pesquisa das autoras, e transformações ocorridas na inserção das crianças no jongo como afirmação da identidade quilombola são apresentadas como contribuição às reflexões. Finalmente, tomando por base marcos legais no campo da educação, esta pesquisa problematiza desafios colocados à implementação das Diretrizes Curriculares Nacionais para a Educação Escolar Quilombola e discute a educação quilombola como dever e direito de memória e de afirmação da identidade negra.

Palavras-chave: Infâncias; Quilombo; Educação; Jongo; Legislação Educacional


Oral tradition is the great school of life,

Everything can be recovered from and related with it

(Bâ, 2010, p. 183).

The aim of this article is to present some reflections on childhoods and quilombos in the context of Quilombola School Education based on experiences acquired in research carried out in quilombo remnant communities. It specifically deals with the childhood/quilombo relationship permeated by cultural expressions that are part of local culture, which enchant, transform, and awaken various perspectives and interests towards preserved collective heritage.

The cultural expression that permeates the relations between childhoods and quilombos in this work is called Jongo/Caxambu. It is commonly regarded as a dance of African origin, but it involves more than singing, dancing, and the beating of drums. In 2005 it was registered as immaterial cultural heritage of Brazil as a form of expression of black communities in the Southeast region. It has ancestral values and foundations. Through the jongos (pontos sung in a circle called a roda), jongueiras and jongueiros tell their stories, which go back to the resistance movements of their ancestors and revere them. Many jongueiras from the southeast are quilombolas.

Quilombola communities attribute recognition and visibility to Jongo/Caxambu: “[...] because it is through jongo that Machadinha [community] is expanding, if it were not for jongo we would not have you here” (Reis, 2017, p. 20). This is what Leandro, a jongueiro master said to us, in one of interviews carried out in our research of the Tambores de Machadinha Jongo Group.

We will also present some reflections on quilombola education, having as a focus the National Curricular Guidelines for Quilombola School Education (DCNEEQ), aimed at the need for schools within quilombos to establish a closer dialogue with the communities. Experiences have shown us that the advocacy and fight for land, associated with the quilombola preservation of social traditions and cultural expressions, cannot be marginalized in the pedagogical practices which permeate the school in these communities, since, as Veiga states (1992, p. 16) “[...] the pedagogical practice is a dimension of social practice”.

In this perspective, in relation to education aimed at the quilombos, it is necessary to offer students greater stimuli for the construction of their knowledge, taking into account the specificities of the group, without ignoring the need for universal knowledge, as well as in relation to other contexts with which these students may relate. Educators also need to provide them with the conditions to play an active role in the teaching and learning process, rather than being mere receptors of set knowledge based on the banking vision of education, so well discussed by Freire (1987).

Quilombos, in terms of memory and history of resistance and the fight for freedom of their territories, in terms of tradition, and the affirmation of black identity, have been part of the Brazilian society for approximately five centuries. Guaranteeing quilombola childhoods the right to a differentiated education, as stipulated in the guidelines, is also a right of all childhoods in society.


I am black and I fled from captivity,

I left my shackles in the senzala,

I am black and have fought my whole life,

I am black, I am happy, I am capoeira.

I am, I am quilombola, I am,

I am, I am quilombola, I also am,

Descendant of the people of Angola,

I am, I am, I am quilombola!

(Jeferson Alves de Oliveira)2

Quilombos are part of the history of Brazil. In the sixteenth century, they were called mocambos. The term quilombo emerged at the end of the seventeenth century, and along the eighteenth century both terms were used in colonial documents to characterize communities of fugitives. In the nineteenth century, there are records that quilombos were not located only in rural areas, but also in urban areas, in the suburbs of slaveholding cities (Gomes, 2015).

After four centuries of repression and invisibility, only in 1988 did quilombolas win the right to gain title to their lands. Art. 68 of the Act of Transitory Constitutional Dispositions, part of the 1988 Federal Constitution, stipulates: “[...] the remnants of quilombos communities who occupy their lands are hereby recognized as having definitive title to their land, while the state shall issue them the respective titles” (Brasil, 1988, art. 68).

The concept of quilombo has been resignified over time. The contemporary conception, present both in legal landmarks and the revision of the literature about the theme, points to a connection between identity and territory. It can be said that what characterizes a quilombola community is the relationship that it establishes between territory, memory, history, relations of sociability, and the affirmation of black identity. Territory is understood here as the “[...] space of lived experiences, where the relations between actors, and between these and nature, are relations permeated by sentiments and the symbolisms attributed to places” (Boligian; Almeida, 2003, apud Silva, 2009, p. 109).

In this paper, we adopt the conception of Resolution nº 8, from 20 November 2012 (Brasil, 2012), which defines the National Curricular Guidelines for Quilombola School Education in K-12 Education as we believe that it fits well with other legal landmarks that guarantee rights to quilombola communities and with the production of knowledge about the theme. We highlight that this it is this conception we are referring to when we mention the terms quilombos, quilombola communities, or quilombo remnant communities.

Art. 3, of this document contains the following understanding of the term quilombo:

I - ethno-racial groups defined by self-attribution, with their own historic trajectory, with specific territorial relations, with a presumption of black ancestralism related to resistance to historic oppression; II - rural and urban communities which: a) fought historically for the right to land and to territory which includes not just the ownership of land, but of all the elements which are part of its uses, customs, and traditions; b) possess the resources environmentally necessary for its maintenance and the historical reminiscences which allow its memory to be perpetuated. III - rural and urban communities which share common trajectories, have ties of belonging, a cultural tradition of valorizing ancestors based on a common identarian history (Brasil, 2012, p. 3-4).

It is estimated that in Brazil there are approximately five thousand quilombola communities (Anjos, 1999). They can be found in 24 Brazilian states, with the exceptions being the territories which currently make up the states of Acre, Roraima, and the Federal District. According to Palmares Cultural Foundation data, it has certified more than 3000 communities as being remnants of quilombos (Brasil, 2019). Of these communities, only 210 have title to their land (Brasil, 2015). According to the quantitative data, due to their configurations and history, their territorial scope, and local contexts, quilombos constitute multiple and diverse realities.

The recognition of the right to title to the land for quilombo remnant communities in the 1988 Federal Constitution is expressed in a ponto de Jongo by Antônio do Nascimento Fernandes, leader of the Black Remnants Community of the Quilombo of Fazenda São José da Serra (Valença/RJ):

When they kill the cow, cambinda,

Mocotó is mine, cambinda,

To follow the trail, cambinda,

Which this cow gave me!

(Fernandes, 2012)

He associates quilombo with mocotó and explains: everything which the black does for this Brazil in terms of culture, in terms of work, fight, what the black is demanding now in Brazil, from a cow, is only mocotó (Fernandes, 2012).

Actually, Brazilian society owes much to the black population and to quilombos and has much to learn with them in terms of history, life, work, and values. Through oral tradition, these communities guard a history which is not taught in schools, and is neither known nor appreciated, especially in the municipalities where they are located, responsible for Early Childhood and 1st to 9th grade Education.

According to Edict N. 34/2019 (Brasil, 2019), in the state of Rio de Janeiro there are approximately 42 certified quilombola communities. However, by 2019 only four had received title of their land3. More than half of them were located in the coastal region of the state, in the municipalities of Búzios, Cabo Frio, São Pedro da Aldeia, Rio de Janeiro, Mangaratiba, Angra dos Reis, and Paraty. The others are located in the interior of the state, in the municipalities of Quissamã, Vassouras, Valença, Quatis, Petrópolis, and Rio Claro. It should be highlighted that it is the community which recognizes itself as a quilombo remnant. The legal basis for this is Convention 169, of the International Labor Organization (Organização..., 2011).

The location of communities in the state also reflects the history and the memory of the slavery and post-abolition period; a history, as Antônio do Nascimento Fernandes (2012) claimed, of the contribution of blacks to the construction of the country. Quilombola communities are located in urban and above all rural areas. They are present in all regions of the state: Metropolitan; North and Northwest Fluminense; Serrana; the Baixadas Litorâneas; Middle Paraíba; South-Central Fluminense; and Costa Verde.

The current Metropolitan region, the Baixadas Litorâneas region, and the Costa Verde all held ports where enslaved Africans were landed for forced labor in the coffee and sugarcane plantations in the Middle Paraíba, South-Central Fluminense, and in the North and Northwest Fluminense regions. Many of these landings were done illegally in clandestine ports, between the enactment of the Feijó Law in 18314 (Brasil, 1831) and the Eusébio de Queiroz Law from 18505 (Brasil, 1850), a period of great prosperity in the coffee plantations in the Paraíba Valley.

They are black communities which have won the right to land, still not guaranteed by the Brazilian state, and which have achieved visibility in society through their long struggles. By maintaining their traditions and organizing in communities, quilombos link the memory of a past of resistance with many struggles for the rights which they still have to fight for in the present; amongst them the struggle for land and education.

Since the enactment of the 1988 Constitution, in other words, thirty years ago, structures of the state have been reorganized, expanded, or created to guarantee the rights won according to the letter of the law. The 2000s brought important conquests and the implementation of public policies which could be implemented and articulated by quilombola communities. Amongst these, in 2000, the Register of Cultural Goods of Immaterial Nature (Brasil, 2000); and in 2003, the creation of the Special Secretariat of Policies for the Promotion of Racial Equality (Seppir) (Brasil, 2003c).

In 2003, Decree 4887 (Brasil, 2003a) was issued, regulating the procedures for identification, recognition, delimitation, demarcation, and granting of title to quilombola land. Another significant conquest was the 2004 Decree N. 5051 (Brasil, 2004), which enacted ILO Convention nº 169 about Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. Also of importance was the approval in 2012 of the National Curricular Guidelines for Quilombola School Education.

Quilombola communities, through access to policies and programs, strengthen themselves because they link the fight for access to land with achievements in the fields of education, work, cultural rights, and the fight against racism. The discontinuity of public policies directly affects quilombos. Moreover, these communities, to the contrary of what is thought, are not isolated. They are part of society, of a society where racism and patrimonialism still predominate. With the worsening of the political, economic, and social context, they have rapidly lost the few rights won before even having them guaranteed by the state.

Childhoods, Quilombos , and Education

[...] Seu Chico Almeida, I do not want your money,

I want you to all ow me to play in your terreiro

(Tambor de Machadinha)6

In this discussion, we have opted for the use of the term childhoods rather than childhood. This choice was justified by the complex and diverse reality of quilombola communities and the various meanings that the terms has acquired historically and socially. Authors such as Ariès (1981) and Charlot (1979) carried out studies showing that the conception of childhood is a historic and social construction, being modified according to each epoch. In this sense, the concept of childhood cannot be unique or universal, since there are various contexts experienced by distinct children. The mode of being of each child is intimately related to their social class, racial-ethnical belonging, genre, culture, etc. These contexts in which children live show the diversity of the constitutions of childhood.

Sônia Kramer (2007), in talking about studies produced about Early Childhood Education in Brazil, has raised important questions concerning this, such as: of which childhood and children are we talking about?7 For her, they are distinct childhoods and children, as

In an unequal society, children play different roles in various contexts. The idea of modern childhood was universalized based on the model of middle class children, based on criteria of the age and dependency of the adult. However, it is necessary to consider the diversity of social, cultural, and political aspects: in Brazil, indigenous nations, their languages and customs; the slavery of black populations; the oppression and poverty of a significant part of the Brazilian population [...] which leaves differentiated marks in the process of the socialization of children and adults (Kramer, 2007, p. 14-15).

It is on the abovementioned ideas that we intend to base this article, since speaking of childhoods and quilombos brings us back to the discussion and comprehension of diversity. In this sense, speaking of diversity means thinking about expressions and cultural particularities, in the relationship between the I and the other, it means thinking about differences in the singularities of each social group. As the abovementioned author stated, it is to consider the social, cultural, and political diversities in the comprehension of childhoods, extrapolating the universal and abstract idea of bourgeois childhood - the one who had to be taken care of, educated, and prepared for future actions, as if all children had the same conditions of life and teaching (Ariès, 1981).

Childhoods bring us to think about children as social and historic subjects, marked by the contradictions of the societies in which they are inserted. According to Souza (2007, p. 7), “[...] the child is a social subject, investigated, observed, and understood by distinct theoretical and investigative perspectives”. They are citizens who have rights, who produce culture, and are produced in it. However, it is necessary to reflect on the specificities which constitute the quilombola child, in light of the lack of studies about childhood which contemplate this problematic. As Miguel Arroyo and Maurício Roberto da Silva state:

While childhood fights to affirm itself and escape from the invisibility to which it was relegated, there are however bodies of children made more invisible and inferior, victims of historic prejudice. The struggles to overcome inferiority resulting from prejudice against class, gender, ethnicity, and race are very complex (Arroyo; Silva, 2012, p. 13).

Racism, based on a racial hierarchy, is related to practices which use the idea of race with the intention of social disqualifying and subordinating individuals from other groups, influencing social relations (Seyferth, 2002). This idea still persists in all social spaces, including in school, generating prejudice and racial discrimination. In examining quilombola school education, it is necessary to be attentive to these questions, inherent to the education process of quilombos. In their various struggles for the right to the preservation of memory and cultural traditions, and for title to their lands, amongst others, they have suffered various situations of racism. For this reason, there is a need to insert the guidelines which deal with the specificities of quilombolas in the schools located in quilombos and in those which have students from quilombola communities.

For understanding the offer of education as a right of all quilombola children, we believe that quilombola school education “[...] should be guaranteed and achieved through respect for the specific forms of experiencing childhood, ethnic-racial identity, and sociocultural experience” (Brasil, 2012, p. 28).

Considering the child as the subject is to understand and respect their feelings, desires, and cultural expressions about the reality in which they exist. In this sense, some questions about this arise: how have schools and education in quilombos addressed childhood and children? Have their cultural expressions, coming from their ancestors, been stimulated through formal or non-formal educational spaces? Are their quilombo history, technologies, memories and cultural traditions guaranteed by the curricular proposals of quilombola schools, complying with the National Guidelines for Quilombola School Education?

We believe that it is not possible to present ready answers to all these questions, but rather to raise some reflections about which way to think about these answers is the best. For instance, Early Childhood Education pedagogic programs aimed at this type of teaching have to contain various subjects covering arts, music, dance, theater, and movements, adapted to the age levels and contemplating the social and cultural diversity of quilombola communities (Brasil, 2012). It is in this sense that in section five of this paper we will look at experiences in quilombos through jongos and caxambus. A cultural practice of traditional communities as a form of resistance and of confronting racism and the Eurocentric model of education still present in school materials and textbooks.

Jongos and Caxambus

Jongos and Caxambus are a regional cultural expression of African origin, registered as Jongo no Sudeste. In some communities, it is called Jongo (in the Costa Verde of Rio de Janeiro state, Vale do Paraíba, communities in São Paulo, and the north of Espírito Santo); in others it is Caxambu (in the Northeast of Rio de Janeiro state, the Zona da Mata in Minas Gerais, and in some communities in the South of Espírito Santo). There are also communities which emphasize the difference between the jongo (or ponto cantado involving singing) and caxambu (a dance and name of the large drum used in the roda de jongo). In this text, the two terms are used in the references to this form of expression and cultural heritage of Brazil, or at times just jongo.

Jongueira communities are black communities which, through oral tradition and collective memories, knew how to maintain their cultural heritage and through this carry out collective actions in the present. Memories of jongo are part of life and indeed make the lives of jongueiras and jongueiros. Being a jongueira/o is part of the identity of women, men, children, young people, and old people, an identification process which occurs in the relations of sociability and through the division of a collective good.

Eva Lúcia Moraes Faria Rosa, a jongueira master from Barra do Piraí who died in 2017, explained this process to us when she stated that the jongueira communities always played jongo because they liked to, in weddings, baptisms, birthday parties, and holy days. She said that everyone contributed, made soup, and played jongo all night long, until the sun came up. In other words, for jongueiras and jongueiros, this cultural expression was always part of their lives and was always collectively shared. Eva Lúcia also stated: the difference is that no one saw, no one knew, but we were there, playing jongo!, referring to the visibility and the recognition of jongo after the heritage process8.

The legal instrument for the recognition of the immaterial heritage by the state is the register, the equivalent to a preservation order for material heritage. The register seeks to valorize the goods and establish the commitment of the state to document, produce knowledge, and support the continuity of socio-cultural practices. Decree 3551/2000 (Brasil, 2000), which instituted the register of immaterial cultural goods, suggests characteristics for goods registered through the creation of Register Books such as knowledge (knowledge and ways of doing certain things enrooted in the daily life of communities), forms of expression (literary, musical, artistic, scenic, and ludic manifestations), celebration (rituals and festivities which mark the collective experience of work, religiosity, entertainment, and practices of social life) and places (markets, fairs, sanctuaries, squares, and other spaces where collective cultural practices are concentrated and reproduced)9.

Abreu and Mattos (2007) have registered the presence of Jongo/Caxambu in the Brazilian southeast since the nineteenth century in rural areas, peripheries of cities, and in festivities in the city of Rio de Janeiro. They show that since the first decades of the twentieth century jongo has been the object of studies by folklorists. In addition, they register the relationship existing between jongo and militant abolitionists at the beginning of the century. However, they also show that folklorists believed Jongo/Caxambu was aimed to either disappear or to only a folkloric survival. Following the abolition of slavery, with the ideal of the whitening of the Brazilian population, it was also believed that black cultural expressions were also destined to disappear.

In the terreiros of coffee plantations in the Paraíba Valleys, jongos were sung and danced to the rhythm of the percussion of the big drum and the candongueiro, and had several functions: diversion, challenge, reverence of ancestors, religiosity, communication, and chronicles of daily life, amongst others. Slenes (2007), referring to the study carried out by Stanley Stein in the municipality of Vassouras in the 1940s, mentions the collective nature of jongo and the power of connecting jongos (pontos) in songs sung during work and in encrypted pontos which maintained a network of communication between jongueiros who lived in different locations.

Jongo/Caxambu was also repressed. But it resisted. It also achieved visibility and became valued by society because jongueiras knew how to keep it alive as a heritage. These communities fought and achieved victories - and continued to do so - due to the role which Jongo/Caxambu performed in its ways of connecting them.

In the present, jongueira communities link memories of a past of resistance. These communities are in places close to former clandestine ports on the northern and southern coasts of Rio de Janeiro state, and in cities in the Paraíba Valley region, such as Piraí, Barra do Piraí, Pinheiral, Vassouras, Valença, and the city of Rio de Janeiro (Morro da Serrinha, in Madureira), to where freed slaves migrated in search of better living conditions. And also in cities close to the north coast of the state, such as Campos and Quissamã, where sugarcane plantations used slave labor, and in municipalities of the Northwest Fluminense, such as Santo Antônio de Pádua, Miracema, and Porciúncula, where there was also coffee production, as registered in a ponto de jongo sung in the rodas of the region, the stick that drips gold is the growing of coffee! (Monteiro, 2015, p. 128)

Jongueiros and jongueiras, especially the older ones, still have memories of jongueiro masters in various municipalities close to the cities where their communities are located. These reports and the location of jongueira communities led to the discovery that the binomial coffee growing and illegal landing ports for African slaves delimited a large jongueiro territory.

There is also the presence of jongueira communities in places close to the division of Northwest Fluminense municipalities with the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo, as well as the presence of jongueiras communities in various municipalities in the São Paulo’s Paraíba Valley.

With this brief mapping of Jongueiras communities in Rio de Janeiro and in the Southeast region, two observations stand out: 1) the intersection of the mapping of the jongueiras communities with the also brief mapping of quilombos in Rio de Janeiro state previously presented identifies for us Jongo/Caxambu as a form of expression enrooted in many quilombola communities in the state; 2) not by chance, what was registered as cultural heritage of Brazil was Jongo no Sudeste (Southeastern Jongo), and it is in this region of the country that a strong presence of this form of expression was identified.

Legal Framework of Childhoods Education and Challenges for the Implementation of Quilombola School Education

Freedom was not the way we wanted.

They gave us our freedom, where are our rights?

(Manoel Moraes)10

In relation to the conception of education in childhoods and the legal framework in the general context of education in Brazil, we can highlight some changes that occurred in recent years. Law 12796/13 was sanctioned on 4 April 2013 (Brasil, 2013), which altered the National Educational Bases and Guidelines Law (LDB) N. 9394/96 (Brasil, 1996). Article 4 of this new law stipulated the obligation of the State to offer free K-12 education from 4 to 17 years of age, expanding the offering of obligatory free education to Early Childhood Education and High School.

The National Educational Bases and Guidelines Law (LDB) (Brasil, 1996) states that Early Childhood Education is complementary to the family and community, which implies a specific role for the institutions which offer it. Two pieces of legislation, the Children and Adolescents Statute (ECA) (Brasil, 1990) and the LDB, conceive the right of children to education in two manners: the former deals with equality of opportunity for children regardless of economic, ethnic-racial, or gender aspects. In this sense, education should neither reproduce nor reinforce inequalities. The latter refers to teaching based on a broad conception of education, perceiving the child as an active being, competent, an agent, producer and reproducer of culture, full of current and not only future possibilities - the child as a social actor and not the object of socialization and practices of disciplining education.

The LDB also contains Art. 26-A, which addresses the obligation to teach the history of Afro-Brazilian and indigenous culture in teaching establishments, a result from a historic fight of the black movement, in consonance with civil society, in which we highlight the following articles:

Art. 26-A. In public and private Basic Education and High School establishments, the study of Afro-Brazilian and indigenous history and culture becomes mandatory (Brasil, 2008).

Art. 79-B. The school calendar will include 20 November as the ‘National Day of Black Awareness’ (Brasil, 2003b).

Reinforcing the abovementioned article, we will highlight the two documents which address children and ethno-racial relations. The first is the National Curricular Guidelines for Early Childhood Education (DCNEI), which has a mandatory nature. According to Art. 8, subsection IX, pedagogical proposals for Early Childhood Education have to take into account “[...] recognition, valorization, respect for, and interaction of children with African and Afro-Brazilian history and African culture, as well as the fight against racism and discrimination”, thereby suppressing any doubt about the obligation of Early Childhood Education to consider this topic in organizing its proposals (Dias; Reis, 2016, p. 8). The second approaches the National Curricular Guidelines for Quilombola School Education.

This document was drafted in accordance with the guidelines of the National General Curricular Guidelines for K-12 Education:

Quilombola School Education is carried out in educational units inscribed in their lands and culture, requiring its own pedagogy in respect to the ethno-cultural specificity of each community and the specific formation of their teaching staff, observing the constitutional principles, the common national basis, and the principles which guide Brazilian K-12 Education. In the structuring and operation of quilombola schools, their cultural diversity has to be recognized and appreciated (Brasil, 2012, p. 42).

In the initial considerations, the DCNEEQ document offers a type of timeline of the rights won in Brazilian society since the 1988 Constitution. These are rights concerning the first and traditional peoples, children and adolescents, racism, cultural diversity, education, food security, granting of titles to quilombola land, education in the countryside, and the sustainable development of traditional communities, amongst other topics and questions.

Section II of DCNEEQ covers the principles which govern Quilombola School Education (Article 7) and the actions which have to be carried out to guarantee these principles (Article 8). By recognizing the rights of the quilombola population, the principles expand rights won in society, as if they expressed a progressive process of conquests and the affirmation of cultural diversity.

Among the actions proposed in Article 8 to guarantee these principles are: the preferential presence of quilombola teachers and administrators in quilombola schools; the implementation of an open, flexible, and interdisciplinary school curriculum; a political-pedagogical project which considers the historical, cultural, social, political, economic, and identarian specificities of quilombola communities; insertion in the quilombola reality of all the didactic and pedagogical support material produced with the community; and the holding of a school educational process which respects the traditions and cultural heritage of quilombola peoples.

If guaranteed by the State, these principles and actions would constitute an affirmative action and reparation policy11 for thousands of quilombola communities in the country and, consequently, a guarantee of the rights won, with the inclusion and active participation of all the subjects involved in educational processes. However, the reality of quilombola schools still seems distant from what is stipulated in the guidelines. Access to data about quilombola schools in the country, as Arruti (2017) demonstrates, is still very difficult. When obtained, the numbers are controversial. Arruti uses data from the 2015 Inep School Census in which the state of Rio de Janeiro, for instance, has 34 quilombola schools, which does not reflect at all the realities of the communities in this state in terms of the principles and actions stipulated in DCNEEQ.

This reflects a distortion of what is stipulated in the document. While on the one hand, Quilombola School Education covers both quilombola schools (located in quilombola territories) and schools with students from quilombola territories, on the other, being in quilombola territory or serving quilombola students is not enough. Quilombola School Education assumes that all the actions mentioned in the guidelines will be carried out through public education policies. However, this policy has to be connected with other public policies, such as the guarantee of land, to getting title to this, since without making this right concrete it is difficult to guarantee the permanence of schools in these spaces.

Jongo as an Expression of the Affirmation of Quilombola Identities

The rooster and the chick went to sleep on the pole,

The rooster snoozed and the chick jumped first

Yeah, cluck, cluck, yeah

Yeah, cluck, cluck, yeah

Olê, lê,ê

Ol, lá lá

(Tambores de Machadinha)12

In relation to the issue of education and the preservation of traditions and memories in quilombola communities, we will now look at an experience in Machadinha quilombo, located in Quissamã (RJ), in a project of Outreach Education and Scientific Initiation in which we sought to understand how elements of the memory of Tambores de Machadinha jongo were connected to the social, cultural, and political questions of the community (Reis, 2017). Machadinha is a community consisting of five centers: Machadinha, Mutum, Sítios Boa Vista, and Santa Luzia and Bacurau and has approximately 300 families and 983 inhabitants.

The research was carried out between 2016 and 2017, using semi-structured interviews as instruments, in which members of the Jongo group - masters and others - participated. It also involved documentary analysis and observation. As a result of the research, a documentary was released at the end of 2017 with the results of the study. We perceived the importance that jongo has for the youth and children (through jongo mirim), as it is an element which connects the present and the past and also its relationship with the fights of the community for its autonomy in all fields, including landholding, since it was fighting for title to its lands.

The insertion of the community’s cultural activities has been occurring since 2005, by the resident Dalma dos Santos, who currently holds the position of director of Memorial de Machadinha, a cultural space which preserves the memory of the community (Santos, 2016). It is a space which expands the school education of children, since every week when they leave school, they go there with the aim of participating in the Flores da Senzala project, which holds youth jongo and fado13 workshops and storytelling, under the coordination of Dalma.

Following the creation of a project to implement DCNEEQ in Felizarda Maria Conceição de Azevedo Municipal School, inside the Machadinha quilombola community in 2017, we perceived an expansion of the relationship of the school with the community, especially the inclusion of youth jongo as part of school activities14. The implementation of these guidelines has involved a broad partnership between specialists from the fields of Education, Social Work, and Nutrition from various public higher education institutions (Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro (Uenf), Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF)/Campus Rio das Ostras, and Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)/Campus Macaé), Quissamã Municipal Secretariat of Education, the school, and the community itself, in order to produce a curricular proposal which contemplates an effectively quilombola school education.

Jongo is strongly linked to the identarian and educational processes of quilombola communities. The affirmation of these actions through educational actions, especially through the entrance of communities into schools, is also expressed as a form of resistance and the maintenance of a form of black expression in our society.

In Rio de Janeiro state and in the Southeast in general, the history of resistance of quilombos and the affirmation of black identity is told in many pontos de Jongo. At the end of the 1990s jongueira communities started an initiative related with the experience of affirmation of black, jongueira, and quilombola identity of Quissamã, by encouraging children to participate in rodas de jongo (Ponto de Jongo, n.d).

There are many reports of jongueiras and jongueiros who did not participate in the rodas when they were younger because they were forbidden from doing so by the older people due to the demandas or marafundas15 existing in Jongo, as stated by the quilombolas of Santa Rita do Bracuí/Angra dos Reis.

The decision of adults to authorize and stimulate the participation of children, including the development of jongo/caxambu workshops in communities and with the creation of youth jongo or caxambu, can be seen as a strategy to preserve the cultural heritage, which transformed the role that young people assumed in their communities. In addition, the children joyfully greeted their entrance into Jongo: Sing hummingbird, sing sabiá, Caxambu mirim has arrived! (Caxambu Mirim de Miracema/RJ).

There are records16 of some young people being ashamed to participate in rodas de jongo/caxambu because, as it happens with other expressions with an African origin, society sees - and saw - them in a prejudiced and discriminatory manner. Currently, young leaders affirm their black, jongueira, and quilombola identity in the rodas de jongo/caxambu and discuss forms of resistance, of confronting racism, and how to guarantee rights in their communities. An example of this was the creation of the Connection Network of Young Jongueira Leaders in 2010, which also counts on the participation of two youths from Quissamã.

Saravá old jongueiro

Who came to teach

Who God gave as protection to the young jongueiro

So that jongo will not end17

This jongo is always celebrated and sung with much energy and emotion in the communities, perhaps because it synthesizes ancestralism as a value which permeates the relations between children, youths, adults, and old people in the rodas de jongo/caxambu and in life. Like the other social relations, these do not occur without intergenerational differences, as Jefinho, writer of the ponto mentioned above, expresses in another ponto, the bem-te-vi (the name of a bird), with an appeal to the older ones to let the children and youths enter the roda:

Let the bem-te-vi sing

Let the bem-te-vi sing

Bem-te-vi sings early

All night who sings is the juriti

Many pontos deal with intergenerational relations in rodas de jongo through images, and jongueiras and jongueiros have a vast repertoire of them. However, they present a unity: ancestralism. No matter that the demandas are also established among generations in the roda de jongo, permission is always asked from the older people. Moreover, this is a value of educational practices of an African origin, as well as orality, corporeity, playfulness, and circularity.

Due to the participation of children, jongo and its values have entered schools in jongueiro and quilombola territories, and the benefits of this will impact on everyone, blacks and non-blacks, jongueiros and non-jongueiros, quilombolas and non-quilombolas. In the communities which are part of Pontão de Cultura do Jongo/Caxambu18 and the Connection Network of Young Jongueira Leaders, all the communities carry out these activities in schools.

While it is true that because of the diversity which runs through the communities there are many different local realities, nonetheless jongo is in school and this is a good sign, as Simas and Rufino (2018, p. 19) teach us: “Education should create happy people, writing, beating the drum, dancing pirouettes, imitating animals, doing science, and gingando with the desire to live”.

Final Remarks

I’m going away

My name stays here,

Oh people, stay with God,

Look after him here

(Mestre Orozimbo and Nico Thomaz)19.

Territory, history, memory, tradition, and black identity are merged in the contemporary concept of quilombo and positively affirm a quilombola identity. Quilombola territory is not established solely in geographic terms, but also in terms of shared affection, lives, memories, and values and presents itself as an inheritance left for new generations. It is this legacy which should consubstantiate quilombola education with the active participation of students, teachers, and communities, with a presence in the administration of the school, in the pedagogical policy project, in the curriculum, and in teaching materials. This is a duty and right of memory and the affirmation of black and quilombola identity.

Generally speaking, the school which bases its curriculum on European/American/masculine/white references and, as a social institution, reproduces the structural racism of Brazilian society insists on not integrating quilombola teachers trained in quilombola schools. Similarly, they insist on not developing a differentiated education, working, for instance, with the history of Brazil through the history of the quilombo or appreciating the cultural heritage of the community.

However, the work with cultural expressions of African origin in schools, as we have demonstrated in the example of Machadinha community in Quissamã/RJ, can contribute to the transformation of this reality to become an important ally in the implementation of DCNEEQ. Those expressions affirm black identity, valorize the fights and history of quilombos and consequently contribute to the confrontation and deconstruction of racism in school.

Africans who came to Brazil and their descendants have left to future generations a rich cultural heritage and many stories of the fight for land and resistance, told in the communities until the present through jongos and caxambus.

It is well known that there is still much resistance to the appreciation of the history of quilombos in schools, but working with black cultural heritage also means that this history is told and that the values of cultures with an African origin, such as corporeity, orality, circularity, playfulness, and ancestralism will be worked on in schools.

It also has to be considered that when black children, jongueiras and quilombolas have the possibility of participating in jongo in schools, of seeing the older people leading rodas de jongo in schools and telling the history of their communities, these children feel that their black identity is being appreciated and also feel welcomed by the school. This appreciation has been reflected, for instance, in the possibility of expression on the part of the children of pride in being black and quilombolas, something which jongo has contributed a lot to.

In the same way that ancestralism is a value in jongueira and quilombola communities, the new generations are another one. An example of this is the participation of children in jongo/caxambu as a strategy to preserve this heritage. This was a movement observed in Jongueira communities as far back as the 1990s. Its results can be seen in the present with the protagonism assumed by young leaders in jongueira and quilombola communities. What was previously seen as a shame, has been transformed by jongo into pride and into the affirmation of black identity, as the Network of Young Jongueira Leaders shows.

For education to become effective as a right, the diversity of childhoods united by the adjective quilombola needs to find in school the valorization of their history, their knowledge, and their modes of life and black identity and cultural expressions of an African origin, such as jongo/caxambu are present as an important path.

Although we live in a country where the political, economic, social, and cultural context has for centuries exterminated black lives, the school needs to affirm that mocambos and quilombos did not die, that they are there, by the thousands; that jongueiras and jongueiros are there, made visible in their communities, on stages, on the streets, in schools; that blacks are in universities; that quilombola, indigenous, ribeirinhos, caiçaras, landless, and homeless teachers are qualifying in universities, in the Countryside Education Colleges, to occupy the differentiated schools.

As in a ponto de jongo from Pinheiral/RJ, we are walking slowly, but we continue to walk forward. The road has no way back because as black feminists state, our steps come from far away. Many have resisted and fought before and rights were won, even if they are not fully guaranteed.

Along the paths of jongo/caxambu we continue!


Translated by Eoin O’Neill and proofread by Ananyr Porto Fajardo

1This article is part of the Thematic Section, Childhood and Education of Ethnic-Racial Relations, organized by Renato Noguera (Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro), Míghian Danae Ferreira Nunes (Universidade da Integração Internacional da Lusofonia Afro-Brasileira), Luciana Pires Alves (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro) and Nancy Lamenza Sholl da Silva (Universidade Federal Fluminense).

2Ponto de Jongo by Jeferson Alves de Oliveira, leader of the Quilombola Association of Tamandaré, Tamandaré Community, Guaratinguetá/SP, Pontão de Cultura do Jongo/Caxambu collection - UFF.

3 The communities given title to their land included: Campinho da Independência (Paraty), Marambaia (Mangaratiba), Preto Fôrro (Cabo Frio), and Santana (Quatis).

4The law which declared free all enslaved Africans who had been brought to Brazil.

5The law which prohibited the trade of enslaved people in Brazil.

6Ponto de Jongo sung by the Tambor de Machadinha jongo group (Quissamã - RJ).

7 Art. 2 of the Children’s and Adolescent Statute considers children to be, for the purposes of this law, those who are under twelve (Brasil, 1990).

8Eva Lúcia de Moraes Faria Rosa, a jongueira leader from Barra do Piraí, in an interview for the documentary Sou de Jongo, made on June 01, 2008, from the Pontão de Cultura do Jongo/Caxambu collection - Universidade Federal Fluminense.

9For more information about this process of inventory and register, see Dossier 5 of IPHAN (Jongo no Sudeste). Available at: <>. Accessed on: 3 April 2019.

10Ponto de jongo from Mestre Manoel Moraes, Quilombo Santa Rita do Bracuí, Angra dos Reis/RJ.

11 For the debate about the concepts of recognition and reparation in Brazil, see Francine Saillant (2016) and Jacques D’Adesky (2006).

12Ponto de jongo sung by the Tambores de Machadinha group. It refers to the flight of slaves: when the roster, who was the overseer, slept, the chick, who was the slave, ran away (Santos, 2016).

13Fado de Quissamã is a dance of Afro-Brazilian origin, which goes back to the nineteenth century and the period of prosperity in the sugar mills in the municipality and in the North Fluminense. In the documentary O fado é bom demais it is possible to hear o fado de Quissamã, through its fadistas and observe the importance of the insertion of children for its continuity. Available at: <>. Accessed on: 9 April 2019.

14This project is still passing through the Secretariat of Education of the Municipality of Quissamã. Until the present moment it was been passed by the Council of Education and the Municipal Council of Quissamã. At the moment, a Term of Technical Cooperation is being drafted between the Municipal Government of Quissamã and Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro (UENF), since this is responsible for the management of the project.

15Jongueiras and jongueiros refer to the marafundas as the mysteries, the secrets of Jongo, generally attributed to the oldest jongueiros. Reports are common that a jongueiro can become amarrado (get sick, faint) in the roda, if they could not desatar (answer) a ponto de Jongo, for instance.

16The transformation of the participation of young people is registered in interviews with young jongueiras as part of the documentary Sou de Jongo (2008, Pontão de Cultura do Jongo/Caxambu collection - Universidade Federal Fluminense) and in the documentary Saravá, Jongueiro Novo! (2013). Available at: <>. Accessed on: 8 April 2019.

17Jongo (ponto sung in the rodas) by Jeferson Alves de Oliveira, Jefinho, a jongueira leader for Guaratinguetá/SP.

18Pontão de Cultura do Jongo/Caxambu is a teaching, research, and outreach education program from Universidade Federal Fluminense, carried out since 2008 with jongueira communities in the Southeast region, which discusses and develops plans of action for safeguard Jongo in the Southeast, registered as a cultural heritage of Brazil in 2005. Jongueira communities from the following municipalities participated in the program: Angra dos Reis/RJ, Arrozal (Piraí)/RJ, Barra do Piraí/RJ, Campinas/SP, Carangola/MG, Guaratinguetá/SP, Miracema/RJ, Pinheiral/RJ, Piquete/SP, Porciúncula/RJ, Serrinha (Madureira, Rio de Janeiro)/RJ, Santo Antônio de Pádua/RJ, São José dos Campos/SP, São Mateus/ES, Quilombo São José da Serra (Valença)/RJ e Vassouras/RJ. In 2010, as one of the developments of the activities of Pontão de Cultura do Jongo/Caxambu, the Network of the Connection of Young Jongueiras Leaders was created. Young jongueira leaders from Quissamã/RJ also participated in the Network.

19Ponto de jongo by Mestre Orozimbo and Nico Thomaz, Caxambu from Santo Antônio de Pádua/RJ.


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Received: November 22, 2018; Accepted: April 12, 2019

Elaine Monteiro is a professor in the Society, Education and Knowledge Department of the School of Education of Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF). She coordinates the Pontão de Cultura do Jongo/Caxambu, an outreach education program developed with jongueiras and quilombolas communities from the Southeast region that articulates actions to safeguard immaterial cultural heritage. She integrates the Laboratory of Education and Cultural Heritage of the School of Education and the teaching project Encontro de Saberes of/in UFF. ORCID: E-mail:

Maria Clareth Gonçalves Reis is an associate professor at the Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro (UENF), where she coordinates the nucleus of Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous Studies (NEABI/UENF). She works in the Postgraduate Program in Social Policies (PPGPS) of Uenf. Coordinator of the Scientific Area “Quilombos, territoriality and emancipatory knowledge” of the Brazilian Association of Black Researchers (ABPN). ORCID: E-mail:

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