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INFLUENCE OF AFRICA ON BRAZIL 59 that' the Negro's greatest contribution to folklore is the forms of entertain- ment that he has bequeathed to us, not the tales and oral literature which have been handed down to us'. He adds, critically examining the two main Negro cultures of the Bantu (Angolans, Congolese and natives of Mozambique) and the West Africans (Yoruba, Aja, Mandinga and Hausa), that we owe far more to the Angolan than to the other Bantu Negroes from the Congo and Mozambique, for it is to him that we owe two of the most important amusements of African origin: the samba and the capoeira (a form of wrestling popular among Brazilian Negroes). . . . The influence of the Negro from the Congo was less important. It can be seen in the congadas and the maracatu (a Brazilian Negro dance). Both these entertainments somehow manage to include the procession of the King of Congo. We ought also to mention the mofambiques, which are very similar to the congadas. We should also stress again the importance of the religious cul- tural heritage of the Negro, for this is the part of his 'life in which he most resists assimilation, and which has been most widely diffused among coloured and non-coloured peoples'. The Afro-Brazilian cults have deserved the closest attention of scholars, and they are as a rule of Yoruba or secondarily of Aja origin, as Edison Carneiro has endeavoured to show. 42 The preservation of fetishist religion in forms which are syncretized with Catholic beliefs and rituals was, as Otavio da Costa Eduardo has said, the most important aspect of the resistance of African culture to the pres- sures of the dominant culture, under the disadvantages of slavery. 43 Roger Bastide has shown that these syncretizations were achieved thanks to a convergence of religious and magical ideas. 44 These cults were not only practised by Negroes— Iemanjd, the mother of water, who is often con- fused with Nossa Senhora da Piedade ('Our Lady of Piety') and Nossa Senhora do Rosario ('Our Lady of the Rosary') is worshipped with in- creasing frequency on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. As a result of research carried out in Recife, Rene Ribeiro has come to the conclusion that the functioning of Afro-Brazilian cults and a participation in. and familiarity with their systems of belief and rituals offers the individual, particularly if he belongs to certain economic and social categories in the north-east of Brazil, alternative forms of behaviour and attitudes towards the supernatural, which have been incorporated into our regional sub-culture since the very beginnings of the settlement of Brazil, and which have mainly benefited those situated on the lowest rungs of our social hierarchy.
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- Fall '09
- Rio de Janeiro