Zumbi of Palmares

Trip Start Jul 19, 2012
Trip End Aug 03, 2012

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What I did
Zumbi dos Palmares

Flag of Brazil  , Bahia,
Monday, July 30, 2012

Today we planned our next big challenge, to take the bus into the City to go the Pelourinho, something we had planned before but had not got round to doing.   We had everything planned, the stop where we would board the bus, the route, the fare, the final stop, the main questions we might need to ask and of course my personal GPS system (a mental note of the route we would walk from the last stop into Pelourinho and as backup a copy of Google map on my smartphone).

 Arriving at Praca da Se, where the buses terminates, it started raining and as we looked around anxiously for cover, a man appeared selling umbrellas so we grabbed one and set off to find the hairdressers we had made an appointment with the previous week.   Within minutes we were in the middle of a major downpour so we stopped under a canopy to avoid getting soaked. Noticing that the rain was still pouring down, we looked up to find that the canopy was only a fine mesh designed to keep out the sun and did little to shelter us from the rain.   

The bookshop - Stepping into the doorway of the shop we were standing in front of, we were immediately offered a bucket to put the wet umbrella in.     Entering the shop we realized that it was a book shop specializing in African literature.  Judging from the titles we were able to translate and the illustrations, there were some significant works on African culture and civilization both on the continent and in Brazil.  Unfortunately, all but a few sections of some of the titles were in Portuguese and to say that our grasp of the language was rudimentary would be something of an overstatement at this stage.  The shop assistance displayed the characteristic helpfulness that we have encountered so often in Salvador.   People here are not pushy by any means and don't mind you browsing even if you don’t buy anything.

We found the hairdressers much more easily than anticipated and after a brief wait Asha sat down in the chair to have her hair done while I walked around the area to get my bearings and increase my familiarity.  This was the first time we would be in Pelourinho without a guide so it was important that we move around confidently.   

Mestre do Capoeira - Leaving the hair dressers we started to walk around looking for places to shop and as we turned the first corner we had the second surprise of the day.  Standing together talking were two elders who I immediately recognized as Capoeira Grand Masters.   The first was Master Pele of the Angola Capoeira Association who we had met a few days previously.  The second was Master Boa Gente who I had seen featured on a number of BBC documentaries.  Master Boa Gente runs a community radio station and Capoeira academy and works actively in his local Community with young people giving them a sense of purpose and direction and keeping them off the streets.       It is reputed that when he first moved into the Favela he had running battles with the criminals and local drug barons, today many of the children who attend his academy are the children of the same drug barons that used to attack him.   Master Boa Gente seemed as pleased as us with the encounter.  Unusually, though not fluent, he had a fair command of English and with our minimal Portuguese and the usual gesticulations we were able to have a very constructive interaction and exchanged details.

Zumbi of Palmeres – At the end of the day we made our way back to the bus stop for the return journey, by this time fully confident of finding our way around.    Passing through the main square of Salvador the surroundings looks very unfamiliar and for a brief moment we were not sure if we were going in the right direction.   Pausing to compose ourselves, we realized that with the rain pouring down in the morning, we had rushed through this part of town hidden under our umbrella without taking much note of the surroundings.  

A brief glance to the right revealed something quite unexpected that turned out to be the major event of the day.  Standing in the middle of the square was a life sized bronze statue of Zumbi of Palmares.   This was a complete surprise as it has not been mentioned in any of the research I had done in preparation for the trip.    There in the middle of Salvador, the capital of Bahia, the black state of Brazil, was a real black man standing tall and dignified.   "Zumbi was distrustful of the Portuguese. Further, he refused to accept freedom for the people of Palmares while other Africans remained enslaved."   This was certainly the highlight of our day and a fitting tribute for African Remembrance Day.
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Mayemi on

Once again a truly inspirational ,spiritual and cultural experience though not there physically most cetainly with you spiritually and emotionally.
I can almost feel that if finances allow you will be returning there probably with some members of the extended family ?

mayemi on

forgot to mention love the hair style

lovers doctor on

Another brilliant entry in the lives and adventures of the Urhobo family.

mayemi on

It really must be quite empowering, emotional, and spiritually uplifting to be in Brazil on this Historic day
African remembrance day, whilst we are still not liberated we have much to give thanks by saluting those brave ,courageous, dignified and proud Africans who chose death over enslavement and on this day in the words of our most Honourable Father Marcus Mosiah Garvey" African people you were once great ,you shall be great again lose not courage lose not faith go forward UP YOU MIGHTY RACE YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH WHAT YOU WILL".

Dulcie on

I am enjoying reading about this Brazilian/African culture so much I feel like I am there with the both of you.I hope you keep giving us this wonderful information. Happy African remembrance day.

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