Gaspar Yanga

Gaspar Yanga

After the new world’s discovery, the Spanish colonialists began to exploit the Natives. Indians died because of bad treatments and hard labour. Diseases brought by the Europeans achieved the extermination of indigenous tribes. At the XVIth century, black slaves massive importation began. They were considered as merchandise and had to work in mines or plantation. Slaves came from Angola, Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Gambia and Niger.

Gaspar YangaNyanga or Gaspar Yanga was one of the slaves boarded in the ships. He travelled through the Green Cape’s slave road, which belonged to Portuguese people. He supposedly belonged to a royal family of Gabon and had been caught in the « Brang/Brong of Tabutu » region, in Guinea (which was part of Ghanaian kingdom).

On suppose qu’il appartenait à une famille royale du Gabon, qu’il fut prit dans la région « Brang ou Brong de Tabutu » en Guinée (qui appartenait au royaume du Ghana). He arrived covered in chains in Vera Cruz do Mexico in 1578 to work in sugar and alcohol plantations in Yanga province. It is told that Nyanga was a man taller than the average, strong and clever. He managed to escape in the jungle, where he became later the leader of the Mexian Marroons ‘s rebellion.

The rebel group appeared in 1537, with slaves escaping in the Peruvian mountainThe king’s successor, António de Mendonza ordered the public hanging of two runaways: Juan Venegas and Juan Roman, caught while fleeing. Three years later, some rumours spread in the population, telling that Black people were seeking revenge on the Spanish Crown, with the king’s death. António de Mendonza provoked the death of many black people, ordering the exhibition of their bodies pierced on stakes alongside the main roads of the area, to warn and punish those who were opposed to the Spanish Crown. All the runaway slaves were called « quilombolas » and were considered as savages, agressive and lazy persons, who were living freely in the forest, in communities named « Quilombos » or «Mocambos” »


In 1609, the Spanish led an expedition to the Quilombo, with 550 soldiers, among whom a hundred were Spanish, the others being Indians, half-caste or Creole. The goal was to end up the issue of the rebels hiding in Orizaba Mountains. The Quilombo was commanded by Father Nyanga who had at the time already 30 years of resistance experience, and by the Angolese Francisco de la Matossa. They were considered as the main responsible men for the attacks on neighborhood’s farms and raids against travellers and convoys.

That war «quilombola » opposed the Spanish, more numerous and better armed, with weapons set in fire, bows and arrows, stone, axes…) to Quilombo’s warriors who knew the jungle very well, led by Francisco de la Matossa. The Leader Nyanga commanded the biggest number of soldiers in battles against Spanish people.

The fights provoked big losses on both sides. Spanish never got a definitive victory, in spite of many battles, they never inflicted a complete defeat to the Quilombolas. The same year, Spanish were forced to accept to negociate. The conventions imposed by the rebels were the complete release of the slaves and the nomination of the Nyanga family to govern the territory. Gaspar Yanga was proclaimed Liberator of the slaves in the war against the Spanish. This brought about the recognition of the province or town of Yanga.