Yanga The Great

Yanga leads a slave rebellion, organizes an army of runaways and defeats the Spanish in battle to
establish the first community of free blacks in the Americas.


Logline: The true story of Yanga, the African warrior prince who was captured by the Spanish and transported to Mexico where he led a slave revolt, organized an army of runaway slaves and defeated the Spanish in battle.

Synopsis: Yanga is the prince of Gabon and a renowned West African warrior who is in line to succeed his father, King Maghan, as king and leader of their inter-tribal military alliance. Gabon hosts a large gathering of friends and allies to celebrate the King’s birthday. One of their visiting dignitaries is King Kilonji and his daughter, Princess Nzinga. The two kings announce an arranged marriage between Yanga and Nzinga.

When King Kilonji and Nzinga leave to return to Angola, they are captured by Fulani warriors. Yanga organizes a band of fighters to rescue the king and princess but are led into a trap and captured by Spanish soldiers. Yanga is taken aboard a Spanish galleon and transported to Veracruz, Mexico.

Yanga is put to work in a silver mine, but within weeks, he organizes a successful rebellion. Yanga and his rebel slaves escape to the safety of Mt. Orizaba where they establish a community comprised of Africans and Aztecs in a secluded mountain valley.

Yanga and his rebels, who become known as ‘maroons’, raid plantations and caravans to secure weapons and supplies and to free more Africans and Aztecs. He marries an Aztec woman named Tayanna and they have a son, “Gaspar Yanga”. Before long, Yanga has organized a formidable and well-armed fighting force.

Yanga learns that Nzinga was also captured back in Africa and sold to the Spanish by her brother. She is now in Veracruz, being held captive on the Viceroy’s plantation. Yanga’s army of maroons raids the Viceroy’s plantation and frees Nzinga. During the melee, the Viceroy’s daughter aims a rifle at Yanga. The quick-thinking Nzinga grabs a spear and buries it into the woman’s chest.

To capture Nzinga, he must attack Yanga’s army, defeat them and re-enslave them. He orders the Spanish General to march his troops up into Mt. Orizaba to locate Yanga’s stronghold to attack and defeat the maroons.

The two forces square off in the jungle terrain for a series of epic battle sequence which take place over several days. Yanga’s well-trained warriors, coupled with their superior battle tactics, prove to be too much for the Spanish, who are soundly defeated.

The Viceroy is then forced to agree to an armistice which guarantees freedom and a large land grant by the river with good farmland for Yanga’s people to develop their own town.

But the Viceroy has an ulterior motive. While Yanga’s people move down and set up their new townsite, the Viceroy reinforces his army. Once Yanga’s new community is in place, the Spanish army attacks them and they capture not only Nzinga, but also Yanga’s wife, Tayanna. The Viceroy schedules a mock trial, after which both women will be hung.

Yanga tries to reconstitute his military alliance with nearby Aztec warriors, but there is not enough time. His own maroon forces have been depleted from their war with the Spanish. With time running out, two Franciscan monks show up with a proposal from the Viceroy. He will agree to free both women. But Yanga has to take their place on the gallows.

After some difficult soul-searching, Yanga agrees to the Viceroy’s offer. But his agreement has one caveat. Nzinga must be returned to Africa to give her an opportunity to avenge her brother’s betrayal. With emotionally distraught Nzinga watching from the stern of the Spanish ship, Yanga is marched onto the dock where gallows have been prepared for his execution.

Historical Significance: Yanga is one of the greatest African heroes of all time. His story is the origin story of all slave rebellion stories. Mexican historians view Yanga’s victory over the Spanish as the opening salvo in Mexico’s fight for independence from colonial rule. Yanga, Mexico, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, is named in his honor and Snoop Dog dedicated a song to his memory. Yanga’s story is an epic ‘David and Goliath’ saga. A well-trained, motivated army of runaway slaves and disenfranchised Aztecs defeats the Spanish; the seventeenth century’s greatest world superpower.

Commercial Prospects: Yanga has enormous heroic appeal because he and his story are real. It involves three races: black, indigenous and white. For these reasons, “Yanga” will appeal to a large audience, worldwide. One award-winning producer has stated that “the charismatic, swashbuckling Yanga presents a new and unique kind of hero that audiences are looking for”.

Production Requirements: “Yanga” will require an African Village, a colonial settlement, the Viceroy’s office, a silver mine, and a jungle village with 17th Century-style stockade. Many scenes occur in natural, outdoor jungle settings, including hillsides. It will require numerous extras for battle sequences.

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