SAMBA: A BRAZILIAN AND INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON©
By Arose N Daghetto
Did you know that Samba music and its dance was created by African slaves who migrated to the city of Salvador, Brazil, which is one of if not the largest population of Afro Brazilians? Samba is of several success story to come out of the African diaspora, for it is a culture that’s taken Brazil and the world by storm.
Samba came from humble beginnings, tracing back to the Salvador, Brazil. The city of Salvador is also known as Bahia (which means, “Bay” and is also called “The Bay of All Saints”, a place where not only Samba was born, but a place where Orixas and Candomblé religions were born. These religions are rich in Congolese, Yoruba, Togo, Nigerian, Ghanaian and Benin cultural influences from Africa. This is also where many of the African Slaves came from and this area of Brazil is one of the first places all African slaves were brought to before being dispersed to different parts of the South, Central and North America.
Salvador is also the birthplace of the famous Capoeira, which is a martial arts that combines dance and music. Capoeira was originally a self-defense mechanism the African slaves practiced to use against their slave masters. Capoeira was used by African warriors to prepare for war against rival tribes. Having such captured warriors among the community of slaves, they secretly used these moves to train one another for combat and protection. Capoeira involves kicks, head butting, acrobatics, leg sweeps, slapping, elbowing, punches all incorporated in dance.
Whenever the slave masters questioned their act, they explained it was simple form of dance and celebrating with each other. It didn’t take much to convince their masters how innocent and harmless the dance was. Perhaps to each other, who probably endured a few scrapes and bruises in their “harmless” dance.
Brazil continues to have highest population of African descendants, most of them live in lower middle class communities or Favelas, which is like African Americans who live the inner city, to put in a nice way or ghettos, to put in a not so nice way.
Afro Brazilian singer, Gilberto Gil once said in an interview that Afro Brazilians knew more about their African identity than those of African Americans, because done so well in preserving their cultural and religious identity. Slavery in Brazil had much more of an upper hand over their slave masters because they outnumbered their oppressors over time and was able to gain control over their freedom better than those African Slaves that populated the south-eastern regions of the United States. That’s a fascination discussion that I will have to get into further detail on in another blog.
Anyway Getting back to Samba music, other cultural influences helped to greatly diversify the Samba identity in Brazil such as the descendants of Portuguese, Spanish Italian and Native American. Today, there are many sub styles of Samba music, you got Jazz samba, rock samba, Samba R&B Samba, reggae Samba, hip hop Samba. The music is undeniably a euphoric experience. You can see the joy on the musicians faces as they work up a sweat beating those various percussions and strumming those various sized guitars. The singers are smiling, laughing, hypnotized by the intense rhythms and lyrics. It’s always a party anytime you hear the Samba. Even sad sambas makes you want to get up and dance! Samba is the antidepressant to the most depressed soul and hope to the pessimist.
As time and generations evolve, Samba takes on new and different faces in the music genre. In the more current decades, many Brazilians express their dislike for Samba music, claiming it’s old and out with the times. Kinda like Americans were with Disco music back in the late 1970’s. Nevertheless, the number of those who love Samba music is outnumbered in the nation and many artists work hard to keep the beauty of this music genre very much alive. Samba schools have been established to teach people about Samba music, dance, and culture.
Samba has long been enjoyed by not only Brazilian natives, but Americans, French, Caribbeans, Germans and others around the world. Samba remains to be the Face of Brazil’s attractive and sensuous identity. So whenever you’re feeling sad and can use a little pick-me-up, or if you feel like listening to something culturally invigorating, pull up a Samba or Bossa playlist on your Pandora radio. Once you listen to it, you will never look at music the same again!
Article (not pictures) © Copyright 2012 by Arose N Daghetto for Black Girl Down Publications. All Rights Reserved.