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Meaning of Aruandê


The word Aruandê was derived from the word Luanda, the capital and largest city of Angola, Africa.  Luanda, once known as Loanda, was founded by Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais in 1575 who named it "São Paulo de Loanda". The city became the center of slave trade from Africa to Brazil from c.1550 to c.1850, growing to be the largest port for the Portuguese trafficking of slaves to Africa for over 300 years. It was in Luanda that the slaves were gathered, chained, stored in the basements of ships and sent off across the Atlantic to be sold.The transformation from the word Luanda to Aruanda occured slowly overtime. To the early generations of slaves, Luanda burned deep in their memory as the last vision they had of home, their last taste of freedom. For this reason, wherever the slave was transported in Brazil, he fondly recalled and spoke of his African city "Luanda." Slavery continued on for centuries, though, and as time passed, children who were born into slavery never saw Africa, nor a city called Luanda. They had never travelled on ships, never seen a port.


Two to three generations into slavery, the idea of Luanda as a city seemed completely unreal.  When they heard their elders speak of Luanda, they could not create an idea of what a city or country where their people were free would look like.  So, they imagined it to be some sort of "heaven" or promised land.  The idea of being able to return to world of freedom, a magical place, became an idea that passed from the mouth of slave to slave. As the word kept being repeated, the L took on more of an AR sound and it transformed from "Luanda" into "Aruanda".


The idea of Aruanda became such a strong vision, that it was always followed by cries of excitement, the sound of "ê!" for emphasis.  "Aruanda ê!"  The "a" at the end of Aruanda soon disappeared and the "ê" was joined.  Brazilian slaves created one word for this idea of heaven, the promised land: Aruandê.