As in the USA, there was also slavery in Brazil. The slaves were put to work in the plantations where sugar and tobacco were the main crops and the demand for slave labor was great. During the history of the slave trade, it is estimated that more than two million slaves were brought to Brazil from Africa.

These slaves came from different regions of Africa and thus had different cultures. They were distributed in three main ports: Bahia, Recife, and Rio de Janeiro.

In Rio and Recife, the slaves were from different ethnic groups and sometimes from enemy tribes as well, which made it difficult for these slaves to organize a revolt. More slaves in Rio were from Bantu peoples, while in other areas, such as Bahia, slaves came primarily from West Africa.

As the slaves became aware that their condition was irreversible, that they were intended to be an involuntary work force forever, they began to run away.


In Recife, a group of 40 slaves rebelled against their master, killed all the white employees, and burned the plantation house. They then set themselves free and decided to find a place where they could be hidden from the slave hunters. They headed to the mountains, a trip that took many months to complete. Had it not been for the help they received from the Indians, this journey would have been practically impossible to accomplish. Eventually they reached what they thought was a safe place, which because of its abundance of palm trees they named Palmares. In this place an African community was born; a community which lasted nearly a century. In this community the first forms of Capoeira were developed.

While no one would deny the tremendous African influence on Capoeira, nothing is really known about a form of Capoeira originating in Africa. All that is written on this subject is based on speculation. The earliest known historical record of Capoeira as a martial art is approximately 1770, long after early years of slavery. No further accounts of Capoeira are found until the early 1800's in the form of various police records from Rio de Janeiro.