Glories: Jorge Amado and Caymmi say that he is the greated on the berimbau
of the master, to earn 5 thousand reis per week. To him, to stop up the ships is the worst profession in the world.
- I've never seen a naval worker doing well with life. I knew many: Mestre Virgílio, Mestre Isaías, Mestre Ovídio, Mestre Gororó. All died poor. I know what this is like. My master had a rule: when I messed up, I got a beating.
And not only from the master did he get a rap on the head. Flustered with earning on her stand, without being able to look after the sixteen children, the black bahian woman warned her neighbors: "If you see this boy causing trouble, you can hit him". The boy, Camafeu was thrashed around without knowing by whom. But the lesson was learned: he was always bold, since childhood making friends in Pelourinho and in Maciel to go and quarrel with other boys in Tororó; he was even respected by the terrible sand captains, the child thieves spread around. A little boy, he got to know all the rodas of double-dealing. He was not a malandro, but knew how to defend himself, playing capoeira or making use of his fists: he was an amateur boxer.
- Yes, I had time for everything.
Toughened up by the suffering, Camafeu didn't cry near the destroyed Market. He kept it strong, consoled the inconsolables. Later on, alone with his friend Othello Tornin, the black Camafeu crossed his arms on the table of the restaurant Continental, held the head and cried like a child who loses his toy.
At night, on the docks, his back turned to the warm ashes of Modêlo Market, the black Camafeu sang for hours and hours. With his guttural voice, the verses of samba de roda filled the Bahian night.
„I went to sleap rich,
Woke up poor…“
The anguish burns like pepper
Now it's the melancholy of the new market, the Popular, installed in an old scrap metal yard made in a hurry to receive the nearly two hundred tent vendors. The place is far from the center, nobody knows it, the Market doesn't have that joy of the Cairu Square any more. The sales have gone down.
- Hm… Here? The sales don't reach not even 10 percent of what they were in Modêlo Market - says Mr Nenen, one of the despaired ones.
For twenty days, Camafeu stayed still, without money. What saved him was the help from Jorge Amado and Carybé. He could then start the business again: he bought goods and spread them on the sidewalk of the Alfândega Square. Almost thirty years later, the black Camafeu became a peddler again. He and others, such as Mr Nenen.
- With all these children, can I stop? Can I?
In the beginning there were some who wanted to return to the Cairu Square. It was possible to reconstruct the Market in the same place. Many hoped for an heroic gesture from Camafeu de Oxóssi, wanted from him the magnetism of a leadership. The journalist Vasconcelos Maia, ex-parliamentary of the state, complains that the new market is so far away. Slim, with more white hair than he should have with his 46 years ("these are the signs of many battles"), Vasconcelos thinks that right after the fire there was a psychological climate - such was the popular commotion - to reconstruct the Market on the spot. Even the State would gain with this: the Modêlo Market was a place of tourist attraction, a source of revenue for Bahia.
- If Camafeu had appealed to the mayor, I guarantee that the Market would have not left this place. And it wouldn't have taken much effort: the outer walls stayed standing.
Camafeu didn't want to be or he can't be a leader? He tried to do some thing, there in the old Modêlo Market. He thought to establish an association of vendors, he started to speak to some of them. Almost all were sluggish. He gave up:
- Each to their own, God for all of us.
Valdemar Bôca-do-Mundo, a fifty-year-old but full of energy, doesn't conform to this indolence, he waits the whole day for the buyers who don't come.
- You want to know a thing, Camafa? 98 percent here are some boys... Nobody wants anything. We could reunite the people, vendors, women, boys, the devil, and go to the mayor to explain the situation, to ask for a solution. But nobody wants anything! You know why?
Because there on the Market, says Valdemar Bôca-do-Mundo, "there are many people with a full stomach". And start to count the examples on his fingers. There was one who lost 540 bucks on one day, all know that they place dominos for 10 bucks a game. Another day, three buses full of tourists arrived, and no vendor wanted to move the car so that the bus could stop. It looked like no-one needed the shoppers. About the fire, Valdemar Bôca-do-Mundo tells the practical things:
- Lets say the new building costs 1 billion. There's about a hundred of us. Who here cannot give 10 million to share the costs?
The Black Camafeu is in the "office", a bar next to the Market, having a beer. He hears Bôca-do-Mundo, smiles, but doesn't say neither yes or no. Ten thousand new cruzeiros...
Who knows about Camafeu's situation is his wife, Dona Toninha, a beautiful dark-skinned woman, teeth so white they look like pearls, about twenty years younger than he is. After the fire, the creditors delayed the time limits, but now the deeds are due. At night, Camafeu talks in his sleep, gets up, is always quiet. Dona Toninha knows the reason:
- The worry with the debts to pay sting like pepper.
Who talks yoruba in Bahia?
Besides the São Jorge Tent, Camafeu has another one. There is a yoruban inscription, with capital letters, with a fine stroke, well designed: "Ílè qdará ní-pwpq bábà Miòsossi qbá Kétw". He translate what is says: "A very good house of my father Oxóssi, king of the Ketu nation".
Camafeu took part of the yoruba course that was promoted by the Center of Afro-Oriental Studies of the University of Bahia, that hired a nigerian teacher for, Benese Lasebikan de Tundê, for this means. During four years, from 1961 to 1964, Camafeu went to the classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays; in the end of the course received a diploma, consumed by the fire of the Modêlo Market.
- The language is tonal, I had a good ear, it was easy to learn - says Camafeu.
The ethnologist Waldeloir Rêgo, author of a scholarly book about capoeira (Capoeira Angola, Editôra Itapoã, Salvador, 1968), tells that he also matriculated to this course, but gave up after first lessons, doubting the teacher's knowledge. He thinks he didn't lose anything, but saved time. Waldeloir is a light mulatto, tall and elegant. He is 37 years old, but everybody give him 27 maximum. According to Jorge Amado he is presented to outsiders like this:
- This is the guy who knows the most about candomblé here in Bahia.
Waldeloir says there's a lot of confusion when it comes to using yoruba in the bahian rites:
- Here, in Bahia, nobody, absolutely nobody, talks yoruba correctly. When many of the people know only the orikis or the greetings, which are necessarily short.
But Camafeu says that learning yoruba on that course was of great importance for him on the I International Festival of Black Arts, that took place in Dacar, Senegal, in 1966, with the participation of 33 countries. He was there with a bahian delegation group, together with the saints-mother Olga de Ala-Ketu and capoeira masters, such as Pastinha, Gato and João Grande, among others. Thanks to knowing yoruba, he could talk to the nigerian delegation. And more: the songs and rhythms that he presented, with his capoeira group, reached the africans' senses more than the ones sung by Ataulfo Alves and Elizeth Cardoso, for example, that were also a part of the delegation.
- Ataulfo Alves, who later suggested to record an LP together, his songs on one side, mine on the other, was only pleased when he sang his batuque Pai Joaquim d’Angola. This the creoles there understood.