Capoeira is a Portuguese word that is derived from the word capao which means a castrated rooster. Capoeira is a form of martial arts that includes dancing, music, acrobatics, and singing to create an approach of teaching/training self-defense. The dance was influenced by the rhythms, religion, and social dances. According to Abdias (2002), this dance was brought to Brazil by the slaves taken from Angola. The slaves developed this method as a means of defending themselves from their harsh owners/lords. The slaves had to disguise their training in form of singing and dancing. These slaves used their regional dialects to create new songs and dances. These songs were used to glorify their homeland countries and give them hope for freedom in the future. The songs were accompanied by various instruments like one stringed instrument –berimbau, agogo (bells), pandeiro (tambourine).
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Capoeira has spread across the globe and it has various implications in Brazilian society. Some of the historical implications of the capoeira include: originally this art was practiced by the underclasses in the Brazilian community. But today it is practiced by even the middle classes in Brazil. Today it is considered to be a form of heritage for the Brazilians. Capoeira is seen as a symbol of unity. It was used to unify the Brazilians. Today it is considered to be the national heritage of the Brazilians. This is because it began to be played even outside Brazil. This made capoeira Angola famous. This is the art that gives the Brazilians a lot of African cultures. This, therefore, led to the development of Afro-Brazilian culture. Historically, Brazilians acquired a rich tradition from Africa. (Abdias, 2002)
Socially, the capoeira has a sense of unity this is because the form of art was taken up by a lot of people in Brazil. The middle class accepted the art and this led to the unification of the Brazilians. This gave the black Brazilians some sense of unity. The taking up of some of the African practices gave the Brazilians some sense of togetherness.
The practice of capoeira led to the concept of “whitening”, a theory whereby the whites in Brazil took up African practices and made them part of their culture. Initially, this theory was supposed to combat the racist views in Brazil. Therefore this led to the “whitening” of the African value and practices. After the taking up of the art by the whites, capoeira was considered clean. This meant that the African community was accepted by the whites in Brazil. This led to some unity in Brazil between the Africans and the whites. (Kariamu, 1989)
Another social implication of the capoeira on the Brazilians is that it led to the abolition of social classes in Brazil. This means hierarchical order that was there was done away with. This meant that the Brazilians would easily interact. Therefore the society becomes unified. Consequently, this led to the evolution and the dissemination of the African culture in Brazil.
Dance and music are used for social expression. Capoeira as a form of dance was also used by the slaves for expression. The slaves that were brought to Brazil used this form of art to express themselves. They used to express their feeling through this dance. They used it as a means of resisting slavery. In addition, this form of art helped in the fight against racism in Brazil. Capoeiristas formed an organization that helped in the fight against racism. The slaves that were taken to Brazil were allowed to take their drugs. Their masters also allowed them to have some rituals like the samba, capoeira, and Candomble. These rituals provided Africans with some way of relieving their pain. It also enhanced the preservation of the African culture; as a result, this led to the development of the Afro-Brazilian culture in Brazil.
Black consciousness was developed by the rituals that were practiced by the blacks, for example, the capoeira. This gave the blacks in Brazil some “state of consciousness”. This was in terms of racial and class inequality, power, and history. Thus they felt the need to preserve their history and fight for racial and class equality.
Socially, this art brought Brazilian society together. This was after the sport was taken up by the middle classes in Brazil. The social barriers that were there before this sport were erased. For instance, the slaves were the ones who practiced this art. So some of them were employed in the capoeira schools to teach the art, for instance, Mestre bimba was taught capoeira by “Bentinho” who was an African. This enhanced the relationship between the middle classes and people who were considered as classes. This eliminated the barriers that were there and as a result, the society became harmonized. The white community also got a chance to learn the Afro-Brazilian culture. Consequently, the African culture spread throughout Brazil. (Lowell, 2000)
Politically, capoeira gave the blacks a sense of fighting for their culture. Initially, the capoeira was considered an illegal activity, and the movements that were formed by people who practiced the sport (capoeiristas) were considered outlawed movements until it was legalized in 1937. This was after the organized capoeiristas helped to fight against Paraguay. Today the sport is recognized as a national sport not only in Brazil but all over the world. The victory against Paraguay gave the black community some recognition in Brazil and this enhanced the relations among the Brazilians. The black community was also given some political recognition. This is why the then president, Getulio Vargas, legalized the practice of capoeira. The move, therefore, fostered the development of Afro-Brazilian culture (which include the Afro-Brazilian dance)
Afro-Brazilian culture has influenced Brazilian society. This is through its cultural practices and customs, for instance, through the practice of the capoeira. Since its liberation in the 1900s, the art has had very many changes, for example, there has been the blending of Capoeira Angola with other regional forms of capoeira. This has made the art more unique to Brazilian society and therefore it has become a pride to many Brazilians. It is also recognized as the national heritage of Brazilian society.
The incorporation of the African culture into Brazilian has enabled the Brazilian society to have a rich culture. This is especially so in terms of their dances, music, and other religious rituals. Brazil is one country that is known for its rich culture.
When capoeira gained popularity even outside Brazil, It gave the Brazilians a sense of multicultural, multiracial base. This helped to break the barriers that were there before the taking up of the art by other social classes. This helped the Brazilians to acquire Afrocentric philosophies. These philosophies have enriched the Brazilian culture. (Lowell, 2000)
The issues addressed above show the role played by capoeira in the development of the Afro-Brazilian dances and the historical, social and political implications. Some of these implications include: the Brazilian society acquired a rich culture; it also gained a national sport, the knowledge of the art Brazil to win the war against Paraguay. The art also enabled the community to gain or acquire some of the African cultures. This culture has helped to enrich the Brazilian community in terms of its cultural practices. The most important thing is that it enabled the Brazilian community to live in harmony. This is by taking up the multicultural, multiracial base. Different communities are able to live together, without any discrimination.
Work Cited Sources
Abdias Do, Nascimento. Africans in Brazil, New York: Prentice Hall, 2002.
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Barbara, Browning. Samba: Resistance in Motion, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.
Hermano, Vianna.The Mystery of Samba, London: OUP, 1998.
J. Lowell, Lewis. Ring of Liberation, New York: The University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Kariamu, Welsh, Asante. African Dance, African World Press, 1989.
Omofolabo, Ajayi. Yoruba Dance, African World Press, 1994.