The Irmandade da Boa Morte (Sisterhood of the Good Death) is the oldest organization for women of African descent in the New World. Their history is part of the history of mass importation of blacks from the African coast to the cane-growing Reconcavo region of Bahia. Iberian adventurers built beautiful towns in this area, one of them being Cachoeira, which was the second most important economic center in Bahia for three centuries. In a patriarchal society marked by racial and ethnic differences, the confraternity is made up exclusively of black women, which gives this Afro-Catholic manifestation a significant role in the annals of African Diaspora history.
Besides the gender and race of the confraternity’s members, their status as former slaves and descendants of slaves is an important social characteristic without which it would be difficult to understand many aspects of the confraternity’s religious commitments. The former slaves have demonstrated enormous adroitness in worshipping in the religion of those in power without letting go of their ancestral beliefs, as well as in the ways they defend the interests of their followers and represent them socially and politically.