Drawing of Carlota Lukumi

Drawing of Carlota Lukumi

Carlota Lukumi was an African woman and rebel who lived during the 1800s. She was captured by white slavers when she was just a child, and taken from the Yoruba tribe to Matanzas, Cuba. She was sold as a slave to the sugarcane plantation, Triumvarato. Conditions on these plantations were brutal, much like the cotton enterprises of the southern United States. Carlota’s spirit did not break during these harsh times, and she was clever and musically gifted. In 1843, she and another female slave, Fermina, planned a slave uprising. When Fermina’s plans were discovered, she was brutally beaten and locked up. To free her and many others, Carlota employed the use of talking drums, which were used to communicate in a type of code. When the Spaniard landlords heard these drums, they most likely thought it was ritual, not a form of communication. Using these, Carlota was able to plan a mass uprising in which she and other slaves freed Fermina and dozens of others.

The uprising officially commenced on November 5th, 1843, and mostly targeted large-scale sugarcane plantations using guerrilla war tactics. It also turned to a few coffee and cattle plantations. These skirmishes went on for one year before Carlota was captured, tortured, and executed by Spanish landowners.

Legacy: Carlota’s efforts would inspire many after to rebel against white owners in a fight for freedom and independence. Many histories about these uprisings only focus on the Africans’ physical strength, often omitting the fact that these rebels employed advanced guerrilla tactics, communication, and code in order to battle for that long. Eugène Godried, a writer and sociologist who focuses on the Caribbean, attributes this omission to euro-centrism. I will post a link to the article below.

Article about the slave uprisings and dynamics by Eugene Godried: http://www.afrocubaweb.com/carlota.htm