|You can find very similar instruments|
in the National museum in Kinshasa, Congo
That there are elements of African culture is not contentious: until the 1930s, capoeira was played almost exclusively by people of African descent. Music was introduced probably around the beginning of the 20th century, and as Brazilian social life was segregated, it is not surprising that African instruments were used.
There are direct references to slavery in songs. The first ladainha I learnt in Salvador was ‘Saudade do grande mestre’ – which reflects on the experience of being enslaved and brought to Brazil. Giving a personal account – albeit poetic – it recalls to the misery and confusion of the slaves, rather than simply the physical hardship or the injustice. Corridos refer to captivity, slave-masters and their families, and plantation work.
There are also many songs and moves that refer to a natural environment – there are frequent references to the moon and the sun which, along with religious citations, summon a cosmic, rather than a human, order. A jungly context is given by ubiquitous mentions of forests and animals in the names of moves and in songs: monkeys, frogs, scorpions and various bird species.
In Guyana, you can buy jungle cookies. They don’t come form the jungle, though – they are baked in a factory but cut to look like jungle animals.
The Africa mix is compiled in Brazil. Orixás and agogos come from West Africa, berimbaus and atabaques (drums) come from central Africa. The pandeiro came with the Portuguese; practically all capoeira lyrics are Portuguese. And ‘Angola’ comes from Mestre Pastinha, the founding father of Capoeira Angola.
|Berimbaus & pandeiro – (from Alexandre Robatto’s 1954 film ‘Vadiação’; |
photos displayed in Forte de Santo Antonio