Black woman, religious leader and Movimento Negro activist defends her master’s dissertation at 72 years of age

Iyalorisa Iyagunã Dalzira Maria Aparecida defends her Master's dissertation at age 72. Flyer inscription in body of text below
Iyalorisa Iyagunã Dalzira Maria Aparecida defends her Master’s dissertation at age 72. Flyer inscription in body of text below

by Marcilene Garcia de Souza

The Iyalorisá (1) Iyagunã Dalzira Maria Aparecida became literate at 13. Due to the lack of educational opportunities and job issues she only managed to complete primary school only at age 33 (1974).

In 1990, at age 49 she returned to school, attending Educação de Jovens e Adultos (EJA or Youth and Adult Education) and graduated from high school. In 2003, at age 63, she was approved in the Course of International Relations and completed graduation at age 68 having researched the African influence in Cuba, Brazil and Argentina. In 2011, at age 70 she joined the Master’s degree program in Tecnologia e Trabalho (Technology and Work) at the Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná (Federal Technological University of Paraná).

State of Paraná in southern Brazil
State of Paraná in southern Brazil

Now at 72, the Iyalorisá of the Ilê Asé Ojogbo Ogun Religious Temple will defend her dissertation which is entitled, “Templo religioso, natureza e os avanços tecnológicos: os saberes do candomblé na contemporaneidade (Religious Temple, nature and technological advances: the knowledge of Candomblé in the contemporary)” at the Tecnologia da Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná (UTFPR or Post-Graduate Program in Technology of the Tecnologia da Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná (UTFPR or Federal Technological University of Paraná) (2).

According to Iyalorisá the research objective was to “examine the impact of urbanization and information and communication technologies, particularly the internet, on the terreiros (3) of Candomblé (4) and the knowledge acquired in those spaces of rites and traditional knowledge of African origin,” she says.

In 1979, Dalzira joined the militancy of the Movimento Negro (Black Movement), on the national level, in the Grupo de União e Consciência Negra (GRUCON or Black Consciousness and Union Group), even in the era of the military dictatorship (1964-1985). It was at this time that she began to see more clearly the problems of blacks and racism. She subsequently contributed to the creation of several black organizations in Paraná, and so became an icon of the the reorganization of the Movimento Negro of the State being recognized as one of the greatest black leaders of Paraná. Iyá, as she is affectionately known, has been further delegated, representing Brazil at the World Conference for the Combat of Racism and Discrimination held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.

The academic event will take place on September 23 at 14.30 in UTFPR Avenida Sete de Setembro, 3165, in Curitiba (capital of Paraná), Room C, 301.

Source: Afrokut – Afro-Brasilidade & Afro-Humanitude


1. Ialorixá (sometimes spelled Iyalorixá) or Iyá or Ialaorixá is a priestess and leader of a terreiro of Candomblé, popularly known as the mãe de santo. Iá in Yoruba language means mother as well as the junction Iaiá or Yaya (“mommy”, an affectionate way of speaking to the mother, or the lady of the plantation, popularly used by slaves). A word used in many segments of the Afro-Brazilian religions, especially in Candomblé. It can be used before a word as is the case Iabassê, Iaquequerê, Ialorixá, Iá Nassô, as can be used to refer to Iámi (minha mãe or my mother), also called Iami-Ajé or Iami Agbá (my elderly mother). She is responsible for everything that happens, no one does anything without her permission. Her function is priestly, she makes queries to Orixás through jogo de búzios (cowry shell game), since in Brazil one doesn’t have the habit of consulting the Babalaô, which is the chief priest of jogo de  Ifá (game of  Ifá), due to the absence of the same from the Afro-Brazilian tradition since the death of Martiniano do Bonfim. Source.

2. Paraná is one of the 26 states of Brazil, located in the South of the country, bordered on the north by São Paulo state, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Santa Catarina state and the Misiones Province of Argentina, and on the west by Mato Grosso do Sul and the republic of Paraguay, with the Paraná River as its western boundary line.

3. A terreiro is a temple where Afro-Brazilian religions such as candomblé is practiced. Source

4. Candomblé is an African-originated or Afro-Brazilian religion, practiced mainly in Brazil by the “povo do santo” (people of the saint). It originated in the cities of Salvador, the capital of Bahia, and Cachoeira, at the time one of the main commercial crossroads for the distribution of products and slave trade to other parts of Bahia state in Brazil. Although Candomblé is practiced primarily in Brazil, it is also practiced in other countries in the Americas, including Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama; and in Europe in Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain.The religion is based in the anima (soul) of the natural environment, and is therefore a kind of Animism. It was developed in Brazil with the knowledge of African Priests who were enslaved and brought to Brazil, together with their mythology, their culture and language, between 1549 and 1888. Source

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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