Pata Seca, also known as Roque José Florêncio, was an enslaved African who endured a life marked by oppression and dehumanization in Colonial Brazil. His tragic existence revolved around his role as a breeder, where he was bought specifically to produce offspring for his owner’s benefit.
Pata Seca, who was born in Sorocaba, São Paulo, in the first half of the 19th century, became the property of a farmer from São Carlos, São Paulo. Standing at an impressive height of 7’2″, he was deemed a perfect candidate for the role of a breeder. Consequently, Pata Seca was specifically selected to engage in relations with female slaves, aiming to generate a strong labor force with favorable genetic traits.
Pata Seca’s life was controlled by his owner’s desires. He was meticulously checked for diseases, well-fed, and like a livestock, he was put to work as a breeder.
The exact number of women he slept with or the frequency of these encounters remains unknown. However, it is estimated that Pata Seca fathered over 200 children who inherited their father’s enslaved status. Consequently, they too experienced lives of servitude, with some being sold for profit and others compelled to toil on their owners’ plantations.
In addition to his breeding duties, Pata Seca also attended to the horses and was entrusted with the responsibility of transporting correspondence between the farm and the city.
During slavery, slave owners would breed their strongest male slaves with their strongest female slaves to create physically superior offspring
Due to his success in producing a significant number of offspring for his owner, Pata Seca received relatively favorable treatment. He was granted special privileges and even received a plot of land from his master when slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888.
After gaining his freedom, Pata Seca found love and companionship in a woman named Palmira, whom he married. Together, they were blessed with nine children, forming the foundation of their own family. In the land gifted to him by his former master, Pata Seca dedicated himself to constructing a new life for his loved ones.
Embracing the role of a farmer, Pata Seca owned and operated “Sítio Pata Seca,” his very own farm. Here, he toiled tirelessly in the production and sale of rapadura, a solid form of unrefined cane sugar. Though his earnings were modest, Pata Seca utilized them to provide for his family, nurturing their well-being and nurturing his dreams of a brighter tomorrow.
However, tragedy struck Pata Seca’s life when he accidentally stepped on a nail one fateful morning. The resulting injury led to tetanus, and despite receiving initial care from a local healer, Pata Seca’s condition deteriorated rapidly. Consequently, Pata Seca passed away in February 1958 at the age of 130, a mere three months after participating in the city’s birthday parade as the oldest man in the county.
Pata Seca’s life serves as a harrowing reminder of the immense suffering endured by Africans who were enslaved in Brazil. Despite the hardships he faced, Pata Seca’s legacy lives on as a testament to the strength and resilience of those who endured the darkest chapters of history.
I recommend exploring the article that delves into the topic of slave breeding in the United States during the 19th century. It examines the disturbing practice of treating enslaved Africans as livestock, highlighting the historical context and details surrounding this aspect of American slavery.