Celebrating 25 Years of M Janja

In celebration of “Malungos: 25 Years of Capoeira Angola” we are going to post items from each of the participants over the next few days, so even if you can’t be in Salvador, you can get a bit of the flavor of the fun everyone is having and the wisdom they are gaining.

We found this interview with Janja in the FICA archives. The copy that we have does not have a date on it, but it looks like it came from a magazine called “Cordão Branco”. In the interview, Janja talks about women in Capoeira Angola, religion in Capoeira, and her mestres. Here is a little bit from the interview:

Cordão Branco: What do you think of the presence of women in capoeira, Regional as well as Angola?

Janja: I think that women are no longer seen as “novelties” in groups, academies, and capoeira rodas. Only in those places that are not interested in capoeira’s historic and philosophic facts can think of capoeira without the presence of women. What is a novelty is women’s current numeric and qualitative representation. That is, the fact that they represent close to 40% of capoeira practitioners worldwide indicates that witihin capoeira in general and within groups, academies, mestres, contra-mestres, teachers, etc, in particular, they can no longer insist on ignoring women, or even in reducing their roles and participation in the practice and activities of these organizations.

Out of respect, I will not speak here about Capoeira Regional because I have never practiced it. My trajectory and formation as a capoeirista took place within the “world of angoleiros”, and within this, the feminine presence never caused difficulties. My mestres (João Grande, Moraes, and Cobra Mansa) never discriminated against us, and beyond this, never wasted time inventing “rules” that would impede our growth as capoeiristas, telling us things that until this day don't make sense to us (like that women should not touch a berimbau or sing a ladainha).
Congratulations, Janja, on 25 years of Capoeira Angola and thank you for all of your contributions!

The rest of the interview is available in our archives.

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