Capoeira, an art without aid
Jornal do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro
30th June 1967
Salvador – On a June's rainy afternoon, a 77 year old man, short, bald and blind, enters the waiting-room of the State governor's office, touching his way, in his right hand holding the handle of an umbrella that he uses as a walking stick.
- I came here to speak to Dr Luís Viana. I saw him, when he was still a boy - said the old man to the Chief of Staff. who shows him to an armchair, where he sat eyed by a woman who accompanied him, in silence.
Anonymous, with the felt-hat on his knees, in the roon full of formal people, Mestre Pastinha, the famous king of capoeira de Angola, started to wait for the hour to be attended.
- I've come to the Palace, firstly, for the esteem I have for Dr. Luís Viana Filho. I'm very satisfied to see him now the governor. I saw him, when his father was the governor of Bahia. I worked for his father - explains Vicente Ferreira Pastinha to the reporter, who identifies him.
- Worked as who, Pastinha?
- As a painter. That time I was a wall painter.
With his eyes open wide, giving the look as if he was seeing, Mestre Pastinha wanted to know with whom he was speaking.
- I'm only a reporter, who knows you a lot by the name and from seeing you play capoeira.
- Ah, nowadays I don't do this any more. I became blind. But I still teach a lot to the boys in my academy. There are only a few who still go there.
HE WANTS AID
Mestre Pastinha, on par for esteem with governor Luís Viana Filho, had another motive that took him to the Palace. He adjusts himself on the quilted armchair and leans closer to the reporter as someone who's going to tell a secret.
- I came to ask for aid, also. I don't have great aims, only something that would help me raise orphan children. Today, in the old age, I'm in need of anything to support the family, anything that would be in governor's power.
- You know that I have a capoeira academy in Pelourinho. Pelourinho, n.° 19. I only want to make the academy a little better. It's not a huge thing, because everything there is traditional. I only want to make the environment better which would serve for touristic attraction. I have three daughters and six grandchildren to feed - whispers Mestre Pastinha.
Mestre Pastinha's wish in these dark days of an old and blind man is to see his academy supported by the authorities, as an expression of regional culture.
- I only want that they would declare my capoeira de Angola academy a good of public utility, receiving subsidy of the State so that it wouldn't disappear. In Bahia everything that is folkloric is ending. The income from the academy doesn't give me a living. I spend weeks and even months without having a new student, I teach only those who are there giving classes. Earlier I played capoeira with them, but now, blind, I only say what they should do.
Pastinha's voice translates an emotion of sadness, the more he drills into his life's troubles.
- Today, I'm living without any official support. I don't know what would happen to me, if it weren't for Jorge Amado and Wilson Lins (a bahian parlament member and writer). They support the academy with frequent aids. Not long ago, there was a campaign led by the director of the Touring Club to get the State to help my academy. I don't know why, but Lomanto denied the aid - says he.
IF GOD HELPS
Showing on the face a remainder of restless temperament that made him the king of capoeira de Angola and its style's main renovator, Mestre Pastinha speaks now of his physical form.
- If God helps me to get back my sight, I would still be exercising, playing capoeira and teaching still to the boys who show up there in the academy. It's enough God to help me a little so that I would return - confides the famous capoeirista.
- You know, I still want to work for capoeira de Angola, but today I'm old and help-
less. I remember the times of Vasconcelos Maia (a bahian writer) as the Superintendent of Tourism and I become sad. These times, not only him, but a lot of people helped me. And the result of this is here: capoeira today is the life's sport. All of this thanks to my work. Today I suffer persecution only due to envy, because I teach capoeira to my boys with more vitality and art for that it would be more of a sport than a fight.
Now, enthusiastic with someone showing interest in talking, in this big hall in which he nothing sees, Mestre Pastinha demands more incentive for capoeira de Angola.
- I want them to do something to see which capoeira is the more perfect. We need to show which has the most sequencies, which has more art. The blacks taught us, but capoeira today is the most perfect inside folklore.
A BOY CALLED LUÍS
The old capoeira de Angola mestre looks to be convinced that the governor would help him. He says that he will appeal to his sentimet. He pulls from his pocket a card where this is written: "Academia Capoeira Angola – Mestre Pastinha – Pelourinho, 19 – Salvador, Bahia, Brazil – Exhibitions: Tue, Thu and Sex from 19 hours, on Sundays at 15 hours. We accept students and contracts for shows."
- Do you know the governor?
- The last time I saw him was when his father left the government. I was among the people that accompanied him (Pastinha doesn't remember an exact date). I accompanied the personal of the Palace who arranged painting jobs for me. The last time I saw him was when he was still a boy. Now I'm anxious to see him again. Despite not having eyesight any more, I want to hear his voice - emphasizes Mestre Pastinha, the king of capoeira de Angola, without being bothered by the surrounding people who fill up the waiting hall of the Rio Branco Palace.
Only at night did Mestre Pastinha talk to the governor Luís Viana Filho, who promised to look into a means to help the famous capoeira academy.
Photo: Blind Pastinha