Brazil is the largest country in South America, both in area and
population. It has more people than all other South American countries
combined. Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are Brazil’s two largest cities.
Brasilia is the capital city of Brazil.
Brazil boasts amazing geographic features, including tropical rain
forests, vast deserts, lush plains and mighty rivers, including the
Amazon, the world’s second longest river.
About half of Brazil’s population are descended from German, Italian,
Portuguese, and Spanish settlers. Others are of African (or a mix of
European and African) ancestry. Indians, the original Brazilians, make
up less than 1 percent of Brazil's people.
The majority of African slaves brought to Brazil came from the Port of
Angola. However, they were captured in different regions of
Africa. They spoke many different languages and they had many
different religions, customs and traditions. The captured
Africans were then sold in three main ports: Bahia, Recife, and Rio de
Janeiro. The tactic used by the slave traders was to mix the
African people up so that they could no longer communicate with each
other. The slave traders thought that if the Africans could not
communicate with each other they would be less effective at organizing
rebellions. As a result, many peoples were brought together that
had never had anything to do with one another before, due to tribal
rivalries and geographic differences. They learned the common
language of Portuguese in order to communicate, and they shared with
each other many of their practices, eventually creating new traditions
together. Many rituals and cultural practices were brought
together within this context, and it believed that capoeira is one of
the fruits of this mixture of African cultures.
the enslaved Africans in Brazil worked on huge tobacco and sugarcane
plantations. They were forced to work most of the day in extreme heat
and under cruel, inhumane conditions. They needed their cultural
traditions, such as capoeira, to keep their spirits alive. The
different aspects within capoeira (dance, acrobatics, martial arts,
music and song) can be referenced in a number of diverse African
fighting forms and rituals. If you were to travel to Angola and
other parts of Africa today, you find fighting techniques, music and
rituals similar to some of the elements in capoeira, but you would not
find capoeira itself. Capoeira was created in Brazil by the
mixing of cultures.
Many enslaved Africans in Brazil
rebelled and ran away from the plantations. With the help of the native
Indian peoples of Brazil and some Portuguese colonists who were against
slavery, the slaves fled to remote areas in the mountains and
rainforests to be safe. It was in these Quilombos, or places of
refuge that the fusion of cultures was able to flourish. It is
believed that in these villages, the refugees created and practiced
fighting techniques in order to protect the Quilombos and to return to
the plantations to free other slaves. Thus, Capoeira became a key
element in their system of revolt. On the plantations, music, song,
dance, and ritual became important aspects of the art in order to help
disguise the deadly martial art from the slave owners.
recognition of Capoeira as a respected art form began with the efforts
of Master Bimba Manuel dos Reis Machado in 1937. He was granted
permission from the government to open the first school of capoeira,
thus allowing the art form to be practiced openly. It has since
flourished throughout Brazil and is becoming increasingly popular
throughout North America, Europe, and areas around the globe.
Thanks to Abada Capoeira for information on this discipline.
(pronounced ma-kœ-lay-lay) "the
dance of the sticks"
The exact origins of the dance called Maculele are not certain, however
there are many stories and legends surrounding its history. It is agreed
that Maculele was created by enslaved Africans working on the sugar cane
plantations. The sticks used in the dance resemble stalks of sugar cane,
and the "Facao" or machete often used in the dance is the tool used to
cut sugar cane.
Some stories talk about Maculele being a dance done by enslaved Africans
on the senzala, their living quarters on the large plantations. It may
have been to celebrate harvest time, or as a way to practice defending
themselves. Possibly, like the martial dance capoeira, this dance was a
martial art form disguised as a celebration dance. Escaped slaves would
use the movements to battle the "captains" who would hunt them, using sticks
straight out of the fire that were still burning.
Other stories say it is related to a battle between tribes in Africa.
One such story is that of a village whose people went to hunt and left
a single boy to protect the children and women. A neighboring tribe attacked
the village, and the boy picked up two sticks on the ground and ran around
with so much energy and bravery that he chased away all the attackers.
When the hunters returned he became a big hero and they created the dance
of Maculele in honor of his bravery and spirit.
Maculele is similar to some dances of the indigenous people of Brazil.
There may have been some mixing of African and indigenous cultures to create
the movements of maculele, however the music and songs are mostly African,
(sung in Yoruba) and Portuguese.
Maculele is most closely tied to the city Santo Amaro in the interior
of the Brazilian state of Bahia. There is a story about Mestre Po-Po in
Santo Amaro that says he began to use movements of the dance in the streets,
clapping hands with a friend in order to get the attention of young women
that were passing by. In the early 1900's, Mestre Po-Po revived and refined
the dance of Maculele, and, by his act of forming a folkloric dance company,
this dance form became known throughout Brazil and beyond. Maculele is
performed by folkloric dancers in Bahia, and also has become a dance that
Capoeira schools throughout Brazil practice because of its similar roots
to those of Capoeira.