Hola From Tenerife

Subscribe to our free newsletter to get an (ir)regular ray of Tenerife sunshine in your inbox. Just enter your email address below.

Delivered by FeedBurner



Festivals in Tenerife and other large gatherings are still not able to be held with social distancing and other restrictions still in force. Events listed here, therefore, are subject to cancellation or change without notice. Such circumstances are beyond our control.

Please like and follow our facebook page for more updates >>

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Rosalía Gómez, the last slave of Tenerife

"Rosalía Gómez, the last slave of Tenerife"; Nelson Díaz Frías discovers an unpublished history of slaves in Arona

"This is an impressive and hitherto unknown true story of a woman of flesh and blood, called Rosalía Gómez, who was born at the beginning of the 19th century as a slave in the south of Tenerife." Thus begins the new book by the prolific historian Nelson Díaz Frías, entitled 'Rosalía Gómez (1801-1874), la última esclava de la isla de Tenerife' (Rosalía Gómez (1801-1874), the last slave on the island of Tenerife), which will be presented in the coming weeks.

This work, sponsored by the Department of Historical Heritage of the Arona City Council, collects the unpublished story of this woman, who lived in the south of Tenerife for much of the 19th century, and whose mere existence constitutes, in itself, a historical anachronism.

“This new book by historian Nelson Díaz Frías reveals a reality in our history that many people will be surprised by”, says Councilor José Alberto Delgado.

Rosalía Gómez was the last person subjected to slavery on the island of Tenerife and, most likely, also the last slave in Spain, discounting the American overseas territories of Cuba and Puerto Rico. In this book, Nelson Díaz Frías hits us, with the precision of data, with the biography of the last Tenerife slave, a woman whose existence barely reached beyond the limits of the municipality of Arona and who was born a slave for the simple fact that her mother was a slave, as well as her grandmother and all her maternal ancestors before her, constituting a unique and astonishing case of a whole lineage of slave women subjected to captivity, generation after generation from the 16th to the 19th century, at the hands of the successive generations of the same family of the rural bourgeoisie of Chasna.

Rosalía was born in Charco del Pino (Granadilla de Abona), in 1801. At just 10 years old, she was separated from her family and transferred to Arona, a municipality where she would spend the rest of her life, when she was sold to her third and last owner. The first was Antonio Gómez del Castillo, mayor of Granadilla at the beginning of the 19th century, hence she adopted his surname. Because of the family uprooting of the slaves and their social marginalization, they were not even aware of their true lineage,” Díaz Frías explained.

The investigation has revealed that Rosalía had offspring despite her single status. She gave birth to three children who, like their mother and ancestors, acquired the status of slaves from the day they were born, but were never sold at the will of their first and only owner, reaching freedom in adolescence as a result of the abolition law enacted in 1837. 

Díaz Frías' study determines that the last slave in Tenerife achieved her freedom at the age of 40 and the status of servant three years after the abolition law was approved. Her new condition would be acquired from her last owner, José Medina, great-grandfather of Juan Bethencourt Alfonso, a renowned doctor and anthropologist from San Miguel.

The author explains that Rosalía would end up settling after a few years in a humble house in the hamlet of Túnez (Arona), where she died in 1874. The house in which she lived from the age of 10 until she was liberated three decades later still exists in the church square in Arona and today it is owned by the descendants of José Medina. In the book there is a photo of the house and even of the room where Rosalía Gómez very possibly rested.

Nelson Díaz Frías explains, "I came across a burial certificate from November 1874 by pure chance, where the details of the late Rosalía Gómez, her parentage, her age ... and a note made by the priest that caught my attention were recorded: "The late Rosalía Gómez was brought to this town as a slave girl ”. I was curious and wanted to investigate who that woman was, if she left offspring and which family she served as a slave”.

“It is the first lineage that I find of slaves in which I have been able to trace their ancestry practically until the beginning of the seventeenth century, and also enslaved by the same Vilaflor and Arona family generation after generation. Her great-great-grandmother is the oldest of this lineage at the beginning of the 17th century and this great-great-grandmother's ancestors were slaves of African origin, although Rosalía was a white woman”.

In addition, this work contains essential chapters to better understand the phenomenon of slavery in the society of the south of Tenerife in past centuries, although the bulk of the work is dedicated to the unfortunate life of the slave Rosalía Gómez, who came to Arona when she was bought by the rich, Don José Antonio Medina, as well as the unpleasant circumstances of her ancestors and the slave family to which they belonged.

Díaz Frías emphasizes that Adeje concentrated the largest number of slaves in the South because it was a jurisdictional manor owned by the Marquis of Adeje. Many worked the sugar cane, which required great physical effort. "To this day, it is known in Adeje and also in Los Cristianos the families that come from black slaves," he says.

The book is complemented with a genealogical study of the descendants of the freed slave, as well as the lineages descended from slaves in the south of Tenerife, today represented by, among others, the names of Marcelino, Melián, Morales, Salazar and Urbano.

When asked about the message that he would like to remain among the readers of his latest work, Díaz Frías argues that “I have only tried to give a voice to a woman who never had one and who, at least, was able to live half of her life in freedom unlike her ancestors, who died slaves. The book tries to provide a lesson for the present and the future, which is to maintain hope in the men and women who fight for a more just society."

No comments:

Tenerife Topics

Adeje Almond Flower Route April in Tenerife Arafo Arico Arona Ash Wednesday Auditorio de Tenerife August in Tenerife Brexit Buenavista del Norte Burial of the Sardine Canarian Cuisine Canaries Day Candelaria Candelmas Carnaval de Día Carnival 1987 Carnival 1988 Carnival 1989 Carnival 1990 Carnival 1991 Carnival 1992 Carnival 1993 Carnival 1994 Carnival 1995 Carnival 1996 Carnival 1997 Carnival 1998 Carnival 1999 Carnival 2000 Carnival 2001 Carnival 2002 Carnival 2003 Carnival 2004 Carnival 2005 Carnival 2006 Carnival 2007 Carnival 2008 Carnival 2009 Carnival 2010 Carnival 2011 Carnival 2012 Carnival 2013 Carnival 2014 Carnival 2015 Carnival 2016 Carnival 2017 Carnival 2018 Carnival 2019 Carnival 2020 Carnival 2021 Carnival 2022 Carnival Foods Carnival History Carnival Main Parade Carnival Queen Santa Cruz Carnival Queens 2001-2020 Carnivals of the World Children's Carnaval Parade Chinyero Christmas in Tenerife Christopher Columbus Comparsas Corazones de Tejina Corpus Christi COVID-19 Craft Fairs Daytime Carnival December in Tenerife Día de la Cruz Día de San José Easter in Tenerife El Gordo Christmas Lottery El Rosario El Sauzal El Tanque Epidemics in Tenerife Farmers Markets Fasnia February in Tenerife Fiesta Nacional de España Fiestas de San Juan Fiestas El Palmar Flavours of Christmas Free Tour Garachico Granadilla de Abona Guía de Isora Güímar History of Tenerife Icod de los Vinos Innocent Saints January in Tenerife Jardín Botánico July in Tenerife June in Tenerife Junior Carnival Queen La Gomera La Guancha La Matanza de Acentejo La Orotava La Palma Eruption La Siervita La Victoria de Acentejo Las Burras de Güímar Las Celias de Tenerife Los Cristianos Los Cristianos Carnival Los Gigantes Los Gigantes Carnival Los Indianos Los Realejos Los Reyes Los Silos March in Tenerife Masca Mascarita Ponte Tacón May in Tenerife Monuments and Sculptures in Santa Cruz Municipal Holidays Municipalities Fiestas Nelson's Attack on Santa Cruz 25 Jul 1797 New Year in Tenerife Nochebuena November in Tenerife October in Tenerife Opening Parade Parade of Vintage Cars Public Holidays Puerto de la Cruz Puerto de la Cruz Carnival Rally Calendar Recipes for All Saints Day Rhythm and Harmony Comparsas Romería de San Roque Romerías San Andrés San Antonio Abad San Cristóbal de La Laguna San Juan de la Rambla San Miguel de Abona San Sebastián Santa Cruz de Tenerife Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival Themes Santa Úrsula Santiago del Teide Senior Carnival Queen September in Tenerife Shrove Tuesday Simón Bolívar Summer Carnival Tacoronte Tegueste Tenerife Carnival Dates Tenerife Disaster Tenerife Fire Tenerife Month by Month Tenerife Museums Tenerife Rally Tenerife Walking Festival Tenerife Weather Tenerife Wines Teno Rural Park This Is Tenerife (TIT) Town Halls in Tenerife Traditional Fiestas Tropical Storm Delta Vilaflor de Chasna

Secret Tenerife Needs Your Support: We don't get paid for our work, which takes many hours of research, translation, etc. Therefore, if you can and find this site interesting or useful, please consider making a donation.

Tenerife Land of Eternal Christmas

Sunbathing SantaDesert Island ChristmasScuba Diving SantaTropical Santa
Santa's Having a Whale of a TimeSurfing SantaWaterski SantaCamel Rodeo Santa
With a wide range of products in each design, click the pics (above) to see the full selections.