Obituary: Sergia da Silva Chagas

SERGIA da SILVA CHAGAS, better known as Dada, was one of the last survivors of the cangaceiros, the bandits of the Brazilian north-east immortalised in Joao Guimaraes Rosa's novel Grande Sertao: Veredas and Glauber Rocha'a 1970s cult film Antonio das Mortes.

Dada was among the few women to become a cangaceiro leader, after being kidnapped from her native village at the age of 13 by a lieutenant of the famous chieftain Lampiao. He was a heroic figure in the folklore of the backlands of a region that also spawned the millenarian movement of Antonio Conselheiro, portrayed in Mario Vargas Llosa's War of the End of the World.

Dada spent 12 years with the bandits, who originally performed a sort of Robin Hood function in a country of huge landed estates periodically devastated by seering droughts. Her kidnapper-cum- lover, Corisco, was known as the 'Blonde Devil' of the cangaco, who dominated the arid interior of Bahia throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

After the assassination of Lampiao in 1938, Dada fled with Corisco into the badlands of Bahia, where he was hunted down and killed by the army in 1940. Dada survived but lost a leg in the encounter.

Colin Harding

Sergia da Silva Chagas, bandit: born 1916; died Salvador de Bahia 7 February 1994.

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