Qilombolas are towns of black communities in rural Brazil, whose residents identify themselves as slave descendents. They are related to the runaway slaves who fled slavery and founded the quilombos, hidden-away communities marked by an organized anti-slavery movement defending their human rights to land, freedom, citizenship and equalness - slaves that refused to remain slaves. Throughout their history the quiIombolas have constantly fought for their rights, including the right to the land where they live and work. In this process of fighting for the land, many indigenous and black people were destroyed in the past. For many years, the quilombolas have existed through the country - they are found in at least 24 states.
SÃO LUIS, MARANHÃO
São Luís, Maranhão is a city with a rich folk tradition that blends African, Amerindian, Portuguese and French influences. We will visit one of Maranhão's still functioning Quilombos. Each evening we will visit the Bumba-Meu-Boi Festival, one of Maranhão's most important folklore festivals celebrated annually in São Luís, but little known outside of Brazil. The festivities also include Tambor-de-Criola and Dança do Coco, music and dance forms unique to Maranhão. The rhythm and dances known as tambor de crioula, or "the black woman's drum", which date back to slavery times and feature women dancing to an engaging drum beat, are powerful, creative and spontaneous.
Bumba-Meu- Boi is a combination of song, dance and play in which Indian, African and Iberian-Brazilian elements are mingled. There are an es timated 60 Bumba-Meu-Boi groups in the city, musicians playing a variet y of instruments, such as zabumbas (large drums) and matracas (pieces of wood or iron rings which are struck against one another). The Bumba- Meu-Boi was originally a parody by the oppressed members of the population directed against the society of slave-owners, and accordingly was from time to time suppressed by the authorities.
Current Special Tours We Offer:
You don't want to miss this!
*Three City Tour*
São Luis * Cachoeira * Salvador
June 21 - July 04
Scheduled Round-Trip Air Transportation - USA/Brazil/USA * Accommodations at Luxury Hotels * Transfers between Airport and Hotel * Brazilian Buffet Breakfast Daily * Historical African Heritage Tours of Rio, Salvador and Sao Luis * Visit to the Historical Town of Cachoeira * Visit to a Quilombo * Bumba-Meu-Boi Festival * Sao Joao Festival * Show and Dinner * Visits to Independent Programs and Schools * Visit to a Quilombo * Dance, Drumming and Capoeira Workshops * All USA and Brazilian Airport Taxes Included * And much more!
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African Continuities in the Americas™
Below are links that you may find useful in planning your trip to Brazil or Cuba. Please let us know if we can assist you with your travel arrangements.
Cachoeira (Portuguese, meaning the waterfall), is an inland town of Bahia, Brazil, on the Paraguaçu River. This riverside colonial town dates from the 16th and 17th centuries, when sugarcane was the economy's mainstay. It has been designated a national monument and is the site of some of Brazil's most authentic Afro-Brazilian rituals. After Salvador it has the largest collection of baroque architecture in Bahia. A major restoration of public monuments and private buildings was finished in 2003, and included revitalized streets and plazas in town. On an excursi on to Cachoeira you can walk through the colorful country market and see architecture preserved from an age when Cachoeira shipped tons of tobacco and sugar downriver to Salvador. One of the most interesting popular events is the festival held each August by the Irmandade da Boa Morte (Sisterhood of Good Death). Organized by descendants of 19th-century slaves who founded an association of black women devoted to abolition.
SÃO JOÃO FESTIVAL
The São João Festival is commemorated throughout the state of Bahia with bonfires, fireworks, Forró music and square dancing as well as copious amounts of liquors and local delicacies. The devotion to all three saints was introduced to Bahia by Portuguese Jesuit priests during the colonial period. These lively celebrations are still enjoyed today.
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It tells the story of an ox (boi) killed by a slave to satisfy his pregnant wife's food cravings. The farmer who owned the animal called on some Indian shamans (pajés), who brought the animal back to life. In São Luís, this ancient celebration takes place during the Brazilian June Festivals.
Bumba-Meu-BoiBumba-Meu-Boi is like carnaval in that there are parade groups, lavish costumes, songs and dancing.
SALVADOR DA BAHIA
Bahia is the most African of all Brazilian states. In fact Africa abounds in the capital city of Salvador, also known because of its 80% African population. In this city of over two million, the culture is ruled by visible African ideas. The local cuisine, musical traditions, dance forms, Bloco Afro carnival groups, acrobatic martial art of capoeira, vibrant visual arts, and even Bahia's ginga, the graceful swing of its people, are all living testaments to this permeating African influence. In addition, Bahia is full of beautiful beaches, and quiet and historically important countryside towns.
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A popular saying says that "Christmas is best celebrated at home and São João is best in the corral," in other words, best in the interior of the state, where thousands of people go to take advantage of the festivities. The São João Festival in Cachoeira is perhaps one of the most traditional with Forró music and 3-person bands called trios, typical of t he Brazilian Northeast. There is also an open market at the Port where liquor and local fare are sold. In the Chapada Diamantina the São João Festival in Mucugê is worth a mention, as he is the town's patron saint. The exciting "war of the swords" - a type of fireworks - attracts tourists to the São João festivals in Cruz das Almas and Senhor do Bonfim.