Music

As part of this project, a new song “Grito pela liberdade” was commissioned. The song is about freedom and justice and was composed by Mestre Chacon with support from: Sam Alexander from Baque Axe, Marcos Santana from Tribo and Manjerico from Grove Capoeira.

Grito pela liberdade

Mulheres que lutaram pela liberdade.
Homens guerreiros, guerrearam com todo fervor.

Guerreiro de fogo, Orixá da Justiça.
Senhora do vento com todo esplendor.


Capoeira

In 16th century Brazil, the slave industries were growing, and more and more slaves were arriving from Africa. During this period many slaves managed to escape, and gathered together and established quilombos, basic settlements in far and hard to reach places.

It is believed that Capoeira developed as a fighting form during this period, deriving from various traditions, especially from south west Africa, where many were enslaved and transported from during the developing stages of the Brazilian slave state.

As with many parts of afro-Brazilian culture that survived under slavery, camouflage was a necessary part of that survival. Capoeira happens with musical accompaniment, the bow-like berimbau, bells and drums. Disguised as a playful dance it can seem harmless, but the techniques practices are notably useful for slaves who have their arms bound.

As slave culture dispersed into the quilombos it further developed. The largest of these was a network of individual villages called Palmares, it survived many attacks for over seventy years until it finally fell in 1695. Both the settlement itself and its most famed leader, Zumbi are icons in capoeira philosophy and history. Here, capoeira is said to have helped Palmares resist repeated invasion in its form as a type of guerrilla jungle combat. This theory helps to explain both the survival of Palmares and the subsequent dispersal of capoeira throughout the country in later years, as having come from a central point where its martial format had been largely defined by necessity.

Capoeira was made illegal, until 1930, when capoeira master Mestre Bimba convinced the President, Getúlio Vargas, that it was a positive sport and good discipline for young men from poor communities. Whether this was another act of camouflage or not, can be argued, however to this day, there is a division in modern capoeira, between those practitioners and teachers who view it as a sport and those that see it as a form of resistance

It is clear that, although capoeira pervades many Brazilian and foreign communities, in some groups it has lost its radical significance, although for us...

OUR CAPOEIRA IS RESISTANCE

Ijexá

Afoxê is an afro-Brazilian carnival group which originated in the north east Brazilian states of Pernambuco and Bahia. It is a mostly non-religious manifestation of candomblé which utilizes a rhythm known as Ijexá, a type of rhythm invented by the Yoruba people.

Ijexá is a lilting rhythm, with a characteristic side to side dance step, that the slave bureaucracy permitted the slaves and mixed population to play in festivities.

According to historical records, the Afoxé Embaixada da África (Embassy of Africa) was the first black cultural manifestation to parade through the streets of Bahia in 1885. It is believed to be an art form originating from the similar roots as another African cultural symbol, maracatu, though reflecting its times, was much more influenced by the influx of captured men and women from west Africa, and from the Yoruba region in particular.

An Afoxé procession was seemingly less threatening to the slave authorities, with a slow and apparently peaceful presence, the participants were able to celebrate their religion and African heritage, in a way that didn’t worry or offend the delicate sensibilities of the slave owning class. This gave the candomblé believers to celebrate their religion under the cover of a secular procession.

In an Afoxé the revellers are linked to one or more candomblé terreiros (temples). Their clothes are chosen in the colours of the Orixás, Yoruba deities. Their melodies and dances are practically the same as those interpreted in the terreiros. Songs are led by the same singers or religious leaders as in the places of worship. Before leaving the group, a religious ritual takes place.

More than a carnival street bloco, Afoxé is a manifestation that has deep connection with the religious traditions of candomblé. It allows the perpetuation of a rich culture, which is at the origin of Brazil’s development, although in the past this has not always been valued.

In Pernambuco, new Afoxé groups appeared in response to the consciousness work happening in the Movimento Negro (Black Movement) in Brazil after the end of the previous dictatorship.

OUR IJEXÁ IS RESISTANCE

Maracatu

Maracatu is an ancient carnival tradition, emerging from slave culture of north eastern Brazil and mixing rhythms and beliefs from West Africa and South West Africa, Europe and South America. It is most often based around a religious place of worship, a terreiro, of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé Nagô. Maracatus came into existence, in the most part, as a way for the communities to disguise their drum based religious rituals as carnival band rehearsals and thus avoid police raids and censure.

Maracatu is a carnival tradition that emerged from slave culture of north eastern Brazil and mixing rhythms and beliefs from West Africa and South West Africa, Europe and South America. It is most often based around a religious place of worship, a terreiro, of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé Nagô.

Maracatus came into existence as a way for the communities to disguise their drum based religious rituals as carnival band rehearsals and thus avoid police raids and censure. There was already a history of celebratory processions of elected black ‘kings and queens’, often community and religious leaders, who acted as mediators between the colonial masters and their people. This continuing system enabled the communities to maintain their religious practices under the guise of being a carnival band. The symbology of the carnival decorations, props, songs and colours which were easily understood by all candomblé devotees, would be missed by the authorities.

Maracatu has become stronger as a symbol of class and racial resistance to diverse forms of cultural persecution, permitting the reaffirmation of a sense of belonging as a community, and as resistant communities.

Despite popularisation and many non-traditional groups playing and adapting maracatu rhythms, Maracatu has become stronger as a symbol of class and racial resistance to diverse forms of cultural persecution.

OUR MARACATU IS RESISTANCE

Samba-reggae

Samba-Reggae arose in the context of the black pride movement that occurred in the city of Salvador, Bahia and still represents ethnic identity and pride for black Brazilians today. Bahia's population has a large population descended from the African slaves who were brought to Brazil by the Portuguese in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The first sambas were "samba de roda", in the late 19th century which was brought to Rio de Janeiro by Bahians in the years between 1900 and 1930s. In Rio, Samba developed into the faster, more complex Rio-style samba that is now played in Rio's Carnival. Through the middle of the 20th century this new Rio-style samba spread throughout Brazil and was adopted by the population including the white ruling classes in many forms, including the Tango influenced Chorinho and the Jazz infused Bossa Nova.

As samba spread around Brazil it came back to Bahia from Rio, but now in a highly altered form, and no longer associated with black Brazilians. Thus, in the mid-20th century, the city of Salvador had many samba schools (and smaller informal blocos) that were modelled on the samba schools of Rio, both of which performed Rio-style samba in Carnival parades every year.

Yet, ironically, black Brazilians did not participate in these Carnival parades or in the blocos. They were not allowed to participate.

Samba-Reggae (and the related form of Samba-Afro) represent a decision by black Brazilians to develop a Carnival parade music that they could call their own, and to form all-black or mostly-black blocos, called Bloco Afros, with which they could parade during Carnival.

Through their music theses afro-blocos aimed to recreate and strengthen their community through their music. The lyrics were conscious, political and often educative about African culture.

Despite commercialisation by the dominant pop culture, Samba Reggae still endures in the more humble communities in Salvador and is a symbol of community and consciousness

OUR SAMBA REGGAE IS RESISTANCE