Who was Sebastián Lemba, the African Pirate and Member of the Lemba Tribe?

Known in the Island of Hispaniola as "Captain Lemba," he was captured as a young man and forced into slavery in 1525. Moved from France to Spain, he would end up in the Caribbean, where he led a slave rebellion to free his people. His army of Maroons, or Cimarrones as they were called, would go to war for 15 years for their freedom. 

They waged guerrilla warfare from the mountains and were feared like a proto-blitzkrieg. Legendary names like Diego Guzmán, Juan Criollo y Diego del Campo were counted among his ranks. 

They would strike with precision, taking supplies and freeing slaves, much like Geronimo and his brave Apaches with their lightening fast raids. The Spaniards had a lot of difficulties with the Taínos and Africans who resisted and fought back against oppression in the new world. 

Lemba emerged onto the scene of Dominican history after another great national hero, the legendary Taíno Cacique Enriquillo, who led a rebellion in 1509 against the Spaniards. Enriquillo was known to have had runaway slaves fighting with him in his rebellion. 

Nicolás Ovando y Cáceres -- a bad man, something like Tony Soprano x10 -- was the first Spaniard to bring African slaves to the Island of Hispaniola in 1502 so they could be made to work in the gold mines and the sugarcane fields, and he was by 1503 already complaining of runaway slaves on the Island. 

Nicolás Ovando y Cáceres was a Knight of the Order of Alcántara and would've been a man of so called "sangre limpia," as during that time the Spanish crown had evicted its Muslim and Jewish population, and anyone suspected of carrying such blood in Spain would've been looked down upon. 

You would have to buy your way into nobility if you weren't one of them, so Nicolás Ovando y Cáceres was well groomed for his colonizing ways. He is remembered in the Dominican Republic for his vile treatment of the Taíno people. 

The island was ruled by so-called called governors who behaved more like war criminals, later going back home to Spain as if they were honorable and serious men of faith and virtue, but knowing full well the atrocities they had committed in their pursuit of gold. 

One need only read the writings of Bartolomé de las Casas to get an understanding of Spanish ferocity towards those they conquered. 

However, let's not give the Spaniards too much credit in their "conquest," since we know that Enriquillo's rebellion forced the Spaniards to sign a treaty giving the surviving Taíno people their freedom. 

Let's also not forget the fact that the Cimarrons were an army of up to 400 freemen led by Captain Lemba remembered as an able leader and warrior. The Spanish conquerors acknowledged the might and capabilities of both Enriquillo and Lemba. 

Juan de Castellanos noted that the captain of the Cimarrons was a principled leader; brave and militant. In 1547, Captain Lemba was captured by rogue, sell-out Cimarrons at the behest of the Spaniards and was beheaded, with his head placed on a high gate in the city of Santo Domingo, which would come to be known as "la puerta de Lemba." 

Sebastian Lemba, it is said, was from the Lemba tribe, of Southern Africa. Among the Lemba and their 12 clans are the "Buba", or priestly class, which modern DNA testing has shown has genetic links to the Khoanim, or the priestly class of Jewish people who trace their ancestry to Aaron the brother of Moses. 

Interesting to note: the Lemba carry this gene in high percentages. Historians also note Captain Lemba's Congolese heritage by way of Kalembo, on his mother's side. Sebastian Lemba Kalembo's legacy will echo through eternity and he won't be forgotten. He is a national hero in the Dominican Republic with a statue to his honor. He is a symbol of freedom and Afro-Dominican heritage.

By: El Conde

"With great care we have procured the conversion of the Indians to our Holy Catholic Faith, and furthermore, if there are still people there who are doubtful of the faith in their own conversions, it would be a hindrance [to them], and therefore we will not permit, nor allow to go there [to the Americas] Moors nor Jews nor heretics nor reconciled heretics, nor persons who are recently converted to our faith, except if they are black slaves, or other slaves, that have been born under the dominion of our natural Christian subjects."