André Pinto Rebouças, in the tunnel of time: Black, at a time when the slave trade was in full force in Brazil, he managed to become an engineer and a Bachelor in Physical and Mathematical Sciences at the Military School. He was born in Cachoeiras, in the state of Bahia, on 13 January 1838. His father, Antônio Pereira Rebouças, was a Member of Parliament and considered himself to be the representative of the Coloured population in the Brazilian Empire. André qualified as a military engineer in 1860. Then, with his brother Antônio, also an engineer, he went to study in Europe.
There, the brothers specialised in the construction of ports and railways. They returned to Brazil in 1862, when they were hired by the Government for services of inspection and improvement of ports and strategic fortified constructions along the coast. As a military engineer, André took part in the Paraguay War between May 1865 and June of the following year.
In poor health, he returned to Rio de Janeiro. Barred from taking an exam to teach at the Central School, he started to plan projects, together with his brother Antônio, for private companies. However, the work that gave true size to his talent as an engineer was that of the water supply ports in Rio de Janeiro, in the 1870 drought, and also the construction of the first Brazilian docks, in Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Pernambuco and Maranhão.
The following decade, already a teacher at the Polytechnic School, he plays an active part in the abolitionist campaign and founds, together with other people sharing the same ideals, the Brazilian Society against Slavery and the Abolitionist Society. He was the ideologist of the abolitionists. He advocated rural democracy, a kind of agrarian reform. Even after the abolition of slavery in May 1888, there was still much animosity from the large rural landowners against the abolitionists. The following year, when the Republic was proclaimed, André, who was a monarchist, left with the Imperial Family to Europe. He stayed in Lisbon until 1891, as a correspondent for the Times, in London. He then lived in Cannes, in France. Unemployed and without money, in 1892 he went to work in Luanda, in Africa, where he stayed for one year. His next port of call was Funchal, on Madeira.
André was very depressed in exile and dreamt of the liberation of Africa. He died in 1898. His body was found in the sea, close to a 60-metre cliff, close to the hotel where he lived, in Funchal. In 1967, the Governor of the State of Guanabara (now the city of Rio de Janeiro), Negrão de Lima, gave the names of the brothers André and Antônio Rebouças to the largest tunnels in the city (2,840 metres in two sections, in both directions).
100 Brazilians Book (100 Brasileiros) (2004)