A REPORT BACK FROM MOZAMBIQUE!
MULHERES ARE MANINGUE NICE !
Back in July, Deepa and Bessa from FICA Oakland had the opportunity to travel with Mestre Jurandir to attend the 5th annual African Capoeira Angola Conference in Maputo, Mozambique. Mestre Jurandir has been traveling to Mozambique for the past four years to support a study group there. Surprisingly, there are not many Capoeira Angola groups in Africa. In Maputo we counted 2 groups, and in South Africa heard of no groups that played only capoeira angola. The group of boys who follow Mestre Jurandir in Maputo met him on his first visit there and in the classic way that angoleiros fall in love and leave all their other lovers they immediately decided that no matter what Mestre thought he was going to be their Mestre and they were going to train only angola.
The group is large for an angola group with 15-20 people, mostly young men under 20, and there were only 2 girls who had just started training when we got there. Their talent is amazing. Boys with less than a year, or a year and a half in capoeira playing so well, with so much mandinga. They have a wonderful group of kids. We attended the 5th annual African Capoeira Angola Conference and they were all very patient and spent most of two days straight with us. Deepa and I helped out teaching a workshop on Saturday, playing berimbau in the rodas, and did a palestra about Women in Capoeira. There are not many women in the Angola groups there, some foreign women but not many Mocambicanas. We went around and had everyone say what they thought the reasons were that women didn't train capoeira. They came up with - their parents wouldn't let them, it was too late at night for them to be out, they thought it was something just for boys, or they felt intimidated. We talked about why it was important, based on Mestre Pastinha's philosophy, for women and men to learn and play capoeira together. We talked about how they had the opportunity in Mocambique since capoeira was so new, to start the tradition with already women and men together, unlike in Brazil where there were many many years where women did not play. The girls promised to try to bring more of their friends, and a few of the boys said they wanted to make an effort to bring their friends as well and make sure they felt comfortable. In short, it was awesome. The girls especially were inspiring. At the root of the problem, however, is a very different culture where women do not hold the same positions in societies as men and in many regards do not interact with men as equals. I'm happy to say that when I came back in August, however, there there two new women training!
Maputo, the city, reminds me of Brazil- the streets, the people, everyone speaking portuguese. But then you look closer and see all the women in their capulans - their wrapped fabric skirts; you hear Shingana and other African languages - and you know you are in Africa Although capoeira angola may not be popular in the motherland, the angoleiros that are there are dedicated, inspired, and an inspiration to all other angoleiros around the world.
Sounds like an amazing trip.
If you are interested in helping the group in Maputo, Bessa bought a bunch of beautiful capulans back and is selling them to raise money for the group there. I know they have some at FICA-DC. If you are interested, email: ficadc (at) hotmail (dot) com.
Many thanks to Bessa of FICA-Oakland for the report.