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Zambo
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Zambo

Zambo (Cafuso in Brazil, Garifuna in Central America and the Caribbean, Lobo in Mexico) is a term of Latin American origin describing peoples of mixed African and Amerindian racial descent. The feminine form is zamba (not to be confused with the afro-Brazilian Samba folk dance or Samba music).

Zambo may also, though very rarely, be used to denote the offspring resulting from the union of a mulatto and an African.

The first zambos were initially the offspring of escaping shipwrecked slavess, as well as plantation slave escapees, who ventured into various Central American, South American and Caribbean jungles seeking refuge in remote Amerindian communities to hide and escape retribution from their European slaveowners. These Amerindians ó themselves under threat from encroaching European colonizers ó were sympathetic to the plight of the fleeing slaves and welcomed them into their communities, offered them food and sanctuary and in many cases also their daughters as wives.

Zambos donít generally constitute any proportion of most countries in Latin America, but they do represent small minorities in the north-western South American countries of Colombia (3%), Venezuela and Ecuador, and along north-western Brazil where they are known as Cafusos. In the Caribbean and Central America they are know as Garifunas and they can be found on the Island of Saint Vincent, as well as Belize, Honduras and Guatemala. In Mexico, where they were known as Lobos, they formed a sizeable minority in the past. The great majority of Lobos have now been absorbed into the much larger Mexican Mestizo population and can only be found in tiny communities scattered around the southern coastal states, most notably the state of Veracruz and the Costa Chica, incidentally the same locales where the country's afro-Mexicans reside. Culturally, Lobos followed Amerindian traditions rather than African ones.

The history behind the African ancestry of the Garifuna of the Caribbean and Central America is usually attributed to the escaping shipwrecked slaves, whereas for the Zambos of north-western South America and the Lobos of Mexico it is usually attributed to the escaping plantation slaves.

The terms Cafuso, Garifuna and Lobo are synonyms of Zambo in their respective regions, and are used in those vernaculars in addition to the term Zambo, rather than being substitutes for it.

See also