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Last Updated: Friday, 22 September 2006, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Legacy of Brazil's slave leader
Unipalmares sign close to the university premises in Sao Paulo
There is no freedom without education, says the university's sign
Sao Paulo's Unipalmares university is named after Zumbi dos Palmares, who led a community of runaway slaves in what is now the Brazilian state of Alagoas.

No-one knows how many slaves were brought to Brazil from Africa. Estimates vary from three million to 13 million.

But from the 17th Century onwards, many of them escaped and formed settlements of their own, known as quilombos.

Zumbi was the warrior chief of the biggest of the quilombos, the Republic of Palmares, which had a population of 20,000 until it was finally overrun by the Portuguese colonial forces.

"Zumbi dos Palmares represents the trajectory of black people through the ages in Brazilian history," says the rector of Unipalmares, Jose Vicente.

"It's a story of resistance and struggle against oppression, but also of an extraordinary ability to overcome obstacles and to make life more democratic, with more respect for humanity and diversity."

Mr Vicente recalls that the quilombos were also refuges for white and indigenous Brazilians fleeing oppression, making Zumbi an appropriate symbol for a university seeking to cater for underprivileged people of all colours.

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