See also America: Texts and Sources
AFRICAN CULTURE IN BRAZIL
- Bastide, Roger, African Civilizations in the New World, Hurst London, 1967 (notes and quotations)
- 7 Bahia in Brazil....its trade...during the 18th century with the Côte de Mina...in Bahia, the Bantu civilization has been eclipsed by that from the Côte de Mina
8 to confuse matters, anyone shipped from the fort of El Mina was known indiscriminately as 'Mina.'
9 Urban blacks and 'free blacks' were formed into 'nations' with their own 'kings' and 'governors' .. divide and rule .... every plot was betrayed in advance to the white bosses by the slaves of another tribe or group and/or genuinely spontaneous process of association, especially amongst Negroes who followed a trade or craft. Fellow countrymen wanted an opportunity to meet one another, they sought some way of celebrating their customary feast days together and of keeping up - under a top dressing of Catholicism - their own religious traditions.
In Brazil the division into 'nations' operated at several different levels and in various institutions. To begin with there was the army, where coloured troops formed four separate battalions, known as Minas, Ardras, Angolans and creoles. There were Catholic religious fraternities. In Bahia for instance that of Our Lady of the Rosary had only Angolan members while the Yorubas met in a down town church. Finally there were cult groups and mutual aid societies with their fraternity houses in the suburbs. It was here, in private, that genuine African religious ceremonies took place, and armed rebellions were planned.
After abolition, inter marriage dissolved old ethnic groupings. But the 'nations' continued to flourish as centres of traditional culture in the form of such institutions as Santaria, Candomblés or Vaudous. In Brazil we find a whole variety of Candomblés: Nago (Yoruba), Ewe, Quete (Dahomey), Oyo, Ijesha, Angola, Congo .
11 In Bahia: Nago, Gêgê (Dahomey), Angolan, Congo candomblés. Nago Candomblé has inspired all the rest with their theology through a system of correspondences between the gods of various ethnic groups, their ceremonial ritual, their basic festivals.
12 It is above all among the Bush Negroes of Dutch and French Guiana that we find Fanti-Ashanti Gold Coast culture in its purest form.
89 Slavery automatically separated a child from his parents and left him to be brought up by old women, no longer fit to toil in the fields. Memories were transmitted from one generation to another, renewed by arrival of new slaves.
90 Survival of African cuisine - white mistress of the house employed female slaves to cook - introduced own spices, recipes, cooking methods. High mortality forced masters to let field slaves have Sundays and church feast days off. Free to amuse themselves as they pleased. Employers gave slaves a small allotment (improved diet at no cost, gave them a stake in the plantation) Private whites regard batuques as a practice which was contrary to Sunday observance. To government, batuques force Negroes to renew ethnic loyalties and mutual hostility 'Suppose that one day the various African nations forgot their tradition of inbred hatred of one another. Suppose Dahomeyans and Nagos, Gêgês (Ewes) and Hausas. Tapas and Congos became friends and brethren. The result would be a fearful and ineluctable threat to Brazil that would end by desolating the whole country.'
91 The plantation Negroes were of widely mixed origin. One ethnic group might predominate over others. In the rural areas they were not sufficiently numerous to form themselves into 'nations'. Masters held their own rights of ownership as against rights laid down by the governor. Slaves of the same stock from neighbouring plantations might slip out at night, dodging overseers, celebrate cults in secret. In towns Candomblés were more common.
95 One Nago sect leader discussing a priest who had formed a new Candomblé exclaimed 'he came out of the sertão and wanted to start a Candomblé'. He picked up a little Gêgê (traditional Dahomeyan lore) a little Nago stuff, a smattering of Congo and local ritual and so on . What a ghastly mix-up!'
176 In Brazil folklore is coloured by Bantu influences. Couples in two rows, men opposite women, or in a circle with a couple in the middle miming the choice of sexual partners. Names for this include samba (semba in Angola = navel rubbing) Dance may be accompanied by chanting (in Portuguese) Soloist improvises verses, dancers pick them up and repeat them; or two singers contest; one asks the other a riddle, employing a special symbolic language, simultaneously concealing and hinting at the underlying significance. In Bahia, remarkable type of wrestling (capoeira) has been transformed into a kind of ballet, full of vaulting and somersaults and other acrobatic feats. Stories: animal fables and fairy tales, part spoken, part sung. Narrator adopts a different voice and gesture for each character he brings on. Genuine African rhythms adja (iron bell struck with iron bar) Yoruba agogô, musical bow (Bantu origin) candongueiro (drum made of hollowed out tree trunk) marimba ('African piano')
183 At Epiphany, Negroes of Bahia would go dancing from house to house, demanding food, money or brandy, accompanied by paper mache animals, ox and ass from Christian crib. They added ostrich, lion, elephant.
- Boadi-Siaw, S. Y, Brazilian Returnees of West Africa, in J. E. Harris (ed), Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora
- 297 . . . African influences, particularly West African, . . . abound in Brazilian life. The large colorful dresses of the Bahian acarajé (our akara) sellers and many of the ornaments, tunics, long gowns and skirts worn by many in Brazil show African traits. Various art works and crafts, like the religious figurines used in the candomblé and macumba shrines and festivals and the wooden and iron figurines sold, for instance, at the model market on the seashore of Salvador, are clearly African. Many colonial churches with fine interior and exterior decorations in gold, silver, stone and wood bear testimony to the capabilities of the Africans who worked them.
Other influences show in the diet of Brazilians. Through their work as cooks, domestic servants and nurses, Africans introduced new foods into the diet of their masters and mistresses. The use of palm oil, hot pepper, guava, okro and others thus came into Brazil. Whole new dishes like vatapá (a seasoned preparation of cassava flour cooked with chicken or fish); angu (a corn dough meal very similar to our banku; acarajé (bean cakes fried in palm oil) (our akara); ofo (a composition of shrimps, greens, hot pepper and palm oil); caruru (okra stew with onion, pepper and shrimps) as well as others became part of the Brazilian menu.
African influences also show in the Portuguese spoken in Brazil, especially in the inflections, simplifications of form and morphology and vocabulary. Brazilian Portuguese borrowed extensively from African languages: angu, giló, fubá vatapá, quilombo (village) and caruru came directly from Africa. Music and dancing have been influenced by Africa. The popular samba music and dance, the tango, the congadas and reisadas (dramatic dances at Epiphany celebrations) and batuque have demonstrable African origins. In folklore also the African influence shows itself, as the studies of Edison Carneiro and others have revealed.
- Thomas McClendon on cultural practices and symbols carried from Africa to Brazil
- H-AFRICA@H-NET.MSU.EDU 08-02-99
Date: Sun, 07 Feb 1999
From: Thomas McClendon
I would suggest that it is necessary to get more specific as
to ethnic origins in Africa. Bantu is a linguistic term
referring to a very large sub-group of languages. So the
question is almost (though not quite) like asking about the
religious ideas and cultural practices of "the
Indo-Europeans." (Perhaps a fairer example would be "the
Romantics," but that fails to convey the linguistic and
geographic diversity.) On the other hand, if the historical
sources give some more specific information as to origins,
then it may be possible to say something about cultural
practices and symbols carried from Africa to Brazil, as
Schwartz does in Slaves, Peasants and Rebels, using Miller's
material on Angola from Way of Death to decode Palmares.
From Africa to Afro. Use and Abuse of Africa in Brazil
|[no ISBN avail.] 46pp. 1999 [publ. 2000] CODESRIA $13.95/£7.955 |
Brazil has long occupied a special place in black culture, with its strong African heritage. The author explores the African dimension in national cultural, religious and political manifestations. He identifies a major shift in the meaning of the word 'Africa' in Brazil. 'Africa' has come to signify civilisation and tradition within black culture, somewhat in opposition to 'Afro' which has come to mean a lifestyle. There has been growing diversification within black culture in Brazil. Focusing on the Bahia region, he shows how the issue has impacted on race relations, and on the white/black intellectual debate.
CaioPrado Junior. The Colonial Background to Modem Brazil, Beverley 1967Harris, J.E., The African Diaspora in the Old and New Worlds
Harris, Joseph,ed, Global dimensions of the African Diaspora
Rout, Leslie BJnr, The African in Colonial Brazil (in Martin Kilson and Robert Rotberg, TheAfrican Diaspora: Interpretative Essays, Howard UP)