Sola Rey

Brazil, Religion, History and Beauty

Brazil An Inconvenient History BBC

It’s a religious festival like no other, featuring skimpy bikinis and non-stop drinking and dancing. But for black Brazilians, the festival of Yemanja is as much about spirituality as partying.

“Today the party is for Yemanja, Queen of the Ocean”, explains Carlinhos Brown. Candomble, the worship of African Gods, is at the centre of a revival of Afro-Brazilian culture. It aims at recognising the contribution slaves made to modern Brazil and restoring black pride in a city where most black people live in abject poverty.

It’s carnival time! The people are swaying to their drumbeats, marching on a wave of music through the streets of Brazil.

But life isn’t always so harmonious. For Black Brazilians the battle against apartheid is only just beginning. Though slavery was abolished 107 years ago, power still rests with the fair skinned. A decade ago, the Olodum movement took black culture and black music to the carnival for the first time. Other movements have developed like the Ax’e group which rescues abandoned children from the streets. At the refuge they can play football, free from drugs, violence and the police. In dilapidated shanty towns, people are questioning their inferior status. As children splash in the muddy water, parents are rejecting the white Brazilian ideal promoted by the mass media. Maria de Lourdes from the Unified Black Movement concludes, “we Negroes need to become conscious of our situation, but Brazilian society needs to change too.”

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