Capoeira has a birthday remembering its past
24th February 1969
Tomorrow completes 28 years of the foundation of Mestre Pastinha's Capoeira Angola Academy of Bahia. Celebrating the anniversary, Pastinha's students are organizing a commemoration, from 7 PM, in the Academy, on the Pelourinho square. To this party all the capoeiristas of Bahia are invited, especially the residents of "Bigode", in Gingibirra [?], and the intellectuals and artists Jorge Amado, Caribé, Mário Cravo and Wilson Lins (president of the Academy).
79 years old, from which 68 dedicated to the art of capoeira de Angola, Mestre Vicente Joaquim [?] Ferreira Pastinha is blind, without being able to live on a pension that was given to him by the Town Hall of Salvador, of ninety two new cruzeiros and fifty cents monthly, and a little fee that he gathers from his students during the three first months of training.
In the end of Liberdade, more precisely in Gingibirra, many capoeiristas got together on Sundays to play capoeira de Angola, not worrying about the styles of the fight or about the exhibition. They were party of an "academy". It was then that one of his students invited Mestre Pastinha to see one of these demonstrations. He was against going in the beginning, however he accepted the invitation in the end. The president of that "academy" was a civil guard called Amorzinho. The mestres making part of the "academy" were Antônio, Maré, Daniel, Livino Diogo, Alemão, Bulgário, Barbosa, Américo Ciência, Domingos Magalhães, Eulâmpio, Butique and others.
Mestre Pastinha was asked and accepted to run the "academy" of Liberdade, and on 23rd February 1941 founded the Sport Centre of Capoeira Angola. But due to the incomprehension of some and the lack of confidence of others towards the sport (during that time prohibited by the police), transfered its headquarters to other places, like the Workers Centre, to Fôrno in Cidade de Palha (now Cidade Nova), Bigode, Brotas and finally Pelourinho, where it's operating until today.
Capoeira angola is presented by Mestre Pastinha as being an art, a healthy sport, in which the love for the technique is essential, for the purpose that it shouldn't be disfigured and used for street riots. For this he has always seeked to trust the presidency of his academy to honest sportsmen, like Mr Atalídio Caldeira and Wilson Lins, who continues till today.
Mestre Pastinha learned to play capoeira when 10 years old with a genuine black african with a name of Uncle Benedito, who was more than 60 years old and lived on the Laranjeiras Street, nr 26. Four months [years? - in 1902]later he joined the Navy, where he taught the art to his colleagues. In the Navy, Pastinha was a musician and a student of the famous Anacleto Vidal da Cunha. He is also a professional painter.
HE'S BEEN A TROUBLEMAKER
When he was young and the youth frequented the famous Pólvora Field, Vicente Pastinha "killed time" many times putting on the ground many policemen on one go. He was always being persecuted,
[photo caption:] Mestre Pastinha, sided by two students (photo) tells the reporter about his life's journeys and also about the episodes of the history of capoeira. He revealed that there was a time when also the women practised this sport, even though they had very complicated costumes back then. Pastinha, being 79 years old, continues to teach.
but was never arrested by the Police, on the day he decided to present himself to the Secretary of the Public Security, then Dr. Álvaro Cova, to clear up certain myths about him and to get a permission to work in a gambling den, as a porter. That time his protector was the Captain Cosme de Farias, who today is the old Major Cosme de Farias, who served in the 9th Regiment, on the Palma Square.
Around 1902 to 1911 Bahia witnessed a never-seen spectacle of coreography or rather an exhibition of real mestras of capoeira Angola, who were as agil and able as the men. It was a tough time for the "Don Juans" and for the police. Famous became Maria Homem, Palmeirona, Júlia Fogareira, Maria Pernambucana and many others, that learned the art not only with Mestre Pastinha, but also with other masters of the time.
We asked Mestre Pastinha if these women wore special clothes similar to men and he said smilingly: - "My son, that time the dresses reached the ground. The women tore their skirts on the sides. They connected the rear part with the front one, putting them on their waist with a string, making a sort of pants. It was enough to play capoeira with any guy".
Mestre Pastinha wants to start teaching the art of capoeira to the women again this year.
Besides many presentations around Brazil, Mestre Pastinha also had a demonstration in Dakar, in Senegal, Africa, when he was invited by the Itamarati, thanks to the special recommendation of the Center of Afro-Oriental Studies of Bahia..
During the meeting with the reporte, he made verses to thank the journalist for the attention given to him, thanking also everybody who's helped him, during the time he appealed to the State Governor for helping him as does the Town Hall.