Carlota Lucumi : Yoruba Woman Who Led A Revolution In 1844 To Free Slaves In Cuba - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Monday, July 26, 2021

Carlota Lucumi : Yoruba Woman Who Led A Revolution In 1844 To Free Slaves In Cuba

By Awe Olufunso

Carlota Lucumí (Yoruba; oloku mi ) also known as La Negra Carlota was an African-born enslaved Cuban woman of Yoruba origin. Carlota is perhaps the most famous historical actor in the Triunvirato rebellion. Carlota, alongside fellow, enslaved Lucumí Fermina. She is known for her leadership in the Triunvirato slave rebellion alongside Eduardo, Narciso, and Felipe Lucumí, and Manuel Gangá in the Triunvirato plantation in Matanzas, Cuba during the Year of the Lash in 1843-1844. 

However, little is known about her life outside of her involvement in the rebellion. She was an African-born Lucumí woman, but the date of her birth is unclear. She died in battle at the end of the brief revolt after it had spread to the San Rafael plantation. The Triunvirato rebellion was the last in a series of slave uprisings known as La Escalera in Cuba in 1843 and 1844, which resulted in a violent wave of repression against enslaved people and free people of colour by the Spanish colonial government and other whites.
The 1800s, in the Americas and Europe, was a fascinating and occupied period, which was loaded up with honourable obstruction and rebellions from Black people everywhere throughout the world. By then ever, subjection had been annulled yet was as yet rehearsed in numerous pieces of America and Europe.

Black men and women, descendants of Africans taken into slavery, and the new slaves, were becoming bolder in their need for freedom from the harsh treatments on the plantation in the Caribbean. The Caribbean and America were where Africans suffered the most at the hands of slave masters and plantation overseers.

But no matter how hard the white slavers tried to break the spirit of the Black people; the resilient Black spirit fought back. And every time there was a revolt, it shocked and reminded the white enslavers that “the spirit of the Africans were as hard as the back of a thousand years old Iroko tree.”

As the years went by, more and more Africans started to revolt. Although their leaders were caught and killed in some cases, in general, the enslaved Africans were waking up aggressively. It was in that unflinching demand for freedom that the legend and achievements of Carlota Lucumi were born.

Carlota was still a slave as of 1843 and was still labouring and enslaved in sugar plantations in Matanzas, Cuba, called Triunvirato. At that point, her rank had risen among the enslaved Africans, and so she had some influence in the community of the slaves. So, for months, she and five other slaves planned to revolt against their masters.

Her counterparts were named Firmina (a woman), Filipe Lucumi, Eduardo, Narciso, and Manuel Ganga. They struck on the 5th of November 1843, setting multiple houses on their plantation on fire, including the house which was used in punishing slaves. They attacked the Mayor and Julian Luis Alfonso, who was the sole owner of the plantation.

The tale of bravery and revolt of Carlota spread like wildfire throughout Cuba. And in its wake, over 5 plantations had their slaves rising up and killing as many white enslavers as they could find. They were hungry for freedom, and they took it by force.
Carlota was so fierce in the battle that she celebrated the success of her revolution by striking down the daughter of an overseer with her machete. The overseer’s daughter was named María de Regla.
The revolution raged on, and she was captured by white soldiers and tortured. They tied her body to her horses and forced them to drag her till she died. When her followers found her body on the morning of November 6,1943, on the Triunvirato estate, they were enraged and rioted angrily, stormed the estate killing as many whites as they saw. The revolution would come to an end, as the white soldiers overpowered the Blacks, with their superior firepower.

The revolt ended after Carlota’s death, but its legacy lived on and was the major motivation for the Cuban independence struggle. Her rebellion sent a hard shock to the heart of the white society in Cuba.

Carlota played a role in the Triunvirato rebellion by spreading it from the Triunvirato plantation to the neighbouring Acaná plantation by garnering the support of masses of slaves, reaching a total of five plantations by the end of the revolt. Other slaves knew her at the time for her violent attack on the overseer's daughter, which was brought up throughout many of the slave testimonies collected after the rebellion. Several Cuban scholars have categorized her as a martyr who died in the fight for freedom, and whose memory has been mobilized to show slave revolts as a natural precursor to the Cuban socialist revolution of 1959.

Long after Carlota’s death in the aftermath of the Triunvirato rebellion, her memory was mobilized by the post-revolutionary Cuban state. Cuba’s intervention in Angola in 1974 to aid in its independence struggle was named after the rebel slave woman, in an event known as Operación Carlota.

She is considered significant by scholars due to her role as a woman in an otherwise male-dominated sphere of slave revolt, as well as the way her memory has been employed in the public sphere in Cuba. Carlota and the uprising at Triunvirato plantation are honoured as part of the UNESCO Slave Route Project through a sculpture at the Triunvirato plantation, which has since been turned into a memorial and museum.

Till today, Carlota is a major element in Cuban history, for her role in leading one of the biggest revolts during slavery.

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