Remembering M Pastinha on His Birthday

On this day in 1889, Vicente Ferreira de Pastinha was born. He would have been 121 years old today. His spirits lives on in rodas held in his honor around the world today (and truly, every day).

In this wonderful excerpt from the book “Capoiera Angola - Ensaio Sócio Etnografico” written by the anthropologist and folklorist Waldeloir Rego, the author quotes a passage written by Jorge Amado, who talks about his dear friend Mestre Pastinha:

In the lovely and opportune chronicle, “Conversa com Buanga Fêlê, also known as Mário de Andrade, War Lord of Angola”, Jorge Amado returns to talk about Pastinha in this passage:

“I see myself leaning out a window of an old mansion in the Largo do Pelourinho and an older man, older than seventy years, with dimming eyesight, small and agile like a cat, is by my side and talks to me. We are old friends. I don’t even remember anymore when it was that we met and that I began accompanying his glorious trajectory.

This is one the mestres of popular Bahian culture, this black man with a soft voice and a happy face that has aged within his academy of Capoeira de Angola. He dancdes and fights better than any of the youngsters with hard adolescent muscles. I speak of Mestre Pastinha, one of the greatest capoeiristas that Bahia has produced. He is just finishing dancing a samba de Angola and is preparing himself to fight.

- Here – he tells me – I practice the true capoeira de Angola and here men learn to be loyal and just. The law of Angola, that I inherited from my grandparents, is the law of loyalty.

The berimbaus play their ritual music, calling the fighters. Mestre Pastinha fills the room with his presence, his agility, his halluncinating dance. Capoeira de Angola, the Brazilian fight of excellence.”

Pastinha is truly one of the great figures of popular life in Bahia. Of all the capoeiristas, he was the one that traveled the most to do presentations with his school, and he was one of the few to cross the Atlantic to the African continent as part of the delegation invited by the Brazilian Minister of External Relations to present at the Premier Festival International des Arts Nègres, in Dakar, in April of 1966.

Happy birthday, Mestre Pastinha!

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