João Oliveira dos Santos (João Grande), Raimundo da Virgem Natividade, Manuel de Carvalho, Albertino da Hora and Mestre Pastinha in a famous report about Capoeira Angola in 1963!
Text by ACCOLY NETTO
Photos by JEAN SOLARI
Inside the slaveships of the XVI century, the first capoeiristas arrived to Bahia. They came from Angola, were warriors, who used feet and head, instead of the hands, like the european, in a very fast fight, with suprising and deadly effects. In the beginning they suffered persecutions and repressions, from the mill owners, from imperial and later republican police; but the blacks, in theis limitless cunning, found in the pantomimes and in the religious rites, that were accompanied by music, an efficient camuflage for capoeira.
To the sound of the mouth-berimbaus and hand claps, the fighters practised, in an assembly of movements and fascinating coreography made of gingas, jumps, swings and incredible acrobacies. They were playing Angola, while they sand in the shrines: "Break the corn like people/Monkey/Monkey break dendê/Monkies". And so it saved itself, this beautiful fighting style, with its heroes of closed body against bullets and white arms, in the Recôncavo, in Cachoeira or Santo Amaro. The instrumental part of the music was enriched by the pandeiro, reco-reco, the caxixi substituting the hand claps. The stomach-berimbau, with deep voice in its one and only chord, remained as the resonant symbol of an epoch...
EXPRESSION harsh, the skin tanned by the north-east sun, Mestre Pastinha, 73 well-lived januaries, transforms himself into a devil of agility, who comes from the black african forests, when the deep voice of the berimbau vibrates, in the fights against the white man, a terrible enemy.
The old streets of Salvador live the "ballet" of capoeira - the art of Mestre Pastinha.
MESTRE PASTINHA is the nickname that Vicente Ferreira got, born on 5th april of 1889. He learned capoeira at ten years old with africnas, to defend himself. (He tells that he always faught with a much stronger guy, and always lost. While a kick given, a kick received, in the heat of the fight, a master capoeirista observed and invited him to visit him when he had time, instead of wasting time flying kites. So it was that he started to like and really learned, managing to defeat the enemy. This all happened around 1910 more or less.) On the 23rd February in 1941 he founded the academy called Capoeira Angola Sport Centre. From then on practises every day. (He started to teach again the art of angolas in 41, because had already taught and practised it for some time, until 1912.) His profession: painter, but the blindness of one of his eyes made him abandon the brush in 1923. Marital status: married + 6 adopted children. In 1922 [1902!] he served the army in the apprentice school of sailors, in Bahia, where he was a musician (horn virtuoso), and in which regimental school he prepared himself. At the same time he taught capoeira to his colleagues. Discharged from service he continued in capoeira on holidays, free days and Sundays, while the working days were dedicated to the painter's trade. Abêré, in 1941, handed him [the leadership of] a capoeira, supported by many other masters, in the far corner of the Liberdade neighborhood. He does capoeira for fun, not exchanging it for nothing, however. In the end, the piece of advice and conclusion of Mestre Pastinha, from his experience and love for the art: The good capoeirista has to play instruments, sing, improvise, write and draw capoeira and have a lot of will force. The only ones who don't learn are those that don't want to, [be it] man, woman or children.
WATCHED by the musicians and accomplices, João Oliveira dos Santos, Raimundo da Virgem Natividade, Manuel de Carvalho and Albertino da Hora, Mestre Pastinha relives on the stone streets of Salvador the incredible feats of african capoeiristas. Coming down (on the right) the stairs of the Church of S. Bárbara, they give reverence to godess Iansã.