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approximate reading time: 5 minutes
created by pur on 2022/08/21 - last changed on 2022/08/25


This article will be mainly a summary of "The Berimbau & Capoeira Angola" in written form with some minor additional informations.

A História

Salvador lies on the south-eastern state of Bahia, Brazil. It was founded in 1549 by Portuguese coloners. Salvador was the first slave port in the Americas. And million of people from Africa were taken there to work as slaves in mines and plantations. Many of the people deported were from modern day Angola.

Capoeira is is a Afro-Brazilian art form, that uses dance and fight movements. It performed by two capoeirista accompanied by a small orchestra. It was developed in Brazil through the amalgation of Angolan and Kongo culture. k

A Origem Do Berimbau

The origin of the berimbau can be traced to the San people who live in various places in the south of Africa (see also here). A traditional form of playing the original instrument can be seen in the 1971 documentary Bitter Melons They also migrated towards Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi where a similar instrument is today known as Umuduri. The instrument even travelled as far as India through east Africans (Siddi) and is called Malunaa.

The San also perform the "Ostrich Courtina Dance" which feature movements which are similar to Capoeira.

The San eventually migrated to Southern Angola, where they encountered Bantu people. From this encounter the Bantu inherited the musical Bow (see this modern example of a song played on a musical bow and of its production by Durban situated MaBhengu). The Mwila people play the Mbulumbumba musical bow as can be seen in the documentary Jogo De Corpo (2013).

O Início Da Capoeira

Quilombos were and still are self-sufficient communities founded by enslaved people who managed to run away. Quilombo, which comes from the Angolan language Kimbundu, means unity, council and fortified camp. The greatest Quilombo was called Palmares, which was independent for over 80 years albeit Portuguese settlers wanting to destroy it. Its first leader was Nganga Zumbi, the son of Kongo aristocratic Aqualtune, who was deported to Brazil, but managed to escape her enslavement, reaching Palmares.

Capoeira was an important tool for escaping, teaching enslaved people (not slaves) how to fight and strengthen their bodies. The movements are skillfully disguised as dance in order to deceive the Portuguese oppressors. In 1888, when Brazil became the last nation to abolish slavery, Capoeira was declared illegal.

A Origem Da Capoeira

The origin of Capoeira is very debated. Opinions range from, it was a reaction to slavery and spontaneously emerged in brazil to, it can be traced to the NGolo practice back in southern Angola. Indeed because of the lack of written sources Capoeira's origins lie in mystic and sometimes fantastic oral traditions. This is of course mostly due to oppression of the enslaved by the Portuguese colonists and their descendants..

Of course everybody has a view on a subject which mostly tries to strengthen their position in society and the world by narrating from a certain perspective. Take for example two enlightenment philosophers. % The influential English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke was an investor in the Royal Africa Company, which traded with enslaved. The Ethiopian Enlightenment philosopher Zera Yacob on the other hand predated many European philosophers by formulating "all men are created equal".

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