War on Capoeira
«Capoeira in Brazil
There is no way to determine precisely when the idea of suppresion of capoeira first came about.
It is known that in the first decades of 19th century, the controls on negro festivities became tighter, as Brazil's slaveholding society became increasingly vigilant. This, in turn, may have been due to the
domestic traffic of slaves between provinces,
and to migration within national borders (the economic center of Brazil was moving from the sugar producer States in Northeast to the gold and coffee producers in Southeast - see History of Brazil).
Within these cities, capoeira was associated with the ways
and customs of the darker population.
Batuque was a generic term applied indiscriminately to
Negro gatherings which almost invariably blended percussion instruments and dancing; singing was also a feature
of get-togethers, both sacred and profane, which could be
held separately and apart from each other, or jointly. Hence,
samba, candomblé, capoeira and other predominantly black
dances and festivities, though distinct from one another,
were all lumped together under the common term batuque (until today, batuque is a casual meeting for singing and dancing samba).
Much of what we know of History of Brazil in the 1800s comes from the testimony and
impressions set down by foreign visitors, who produced essential documents making it possible to identify
features and aspects of the black population's customs and
lifestyle, be they slaves, born free or freedmen, whether born in Africa or in Brazil.
It was common
among foreigners to make comparisons between Brazil
and Africa, especially as they looked out on cities such as
Salvador, Recife and Rio de Janeiro, all busy urban
seaports, centers for the slave traffic until its abolition in
1871, lay within the colonial provinces of Bahia, Pernambu-
co and Rio de Janeiro.
All three cities were predominantly
black, and the black population, indispensable to the workings of everyday urban life, thronged their busy streets and
boulevards. It was no suprise, then, that these cities were especially conducive to the drumbeat of Negro festivities.
Back to Top