Note from BW of Brazil: Someone once said that if you never visit the African continent, Salvador, Bahia is the next best thing. With its large black population and vibrant displays of African culture, the city has become a major tourist destination, particularly for those interested in aspects of the African Diaspora. For 40 years the musical group and social organization Ilê-Aiyê has played a major role in the development of Salvador’s image the development of black consciousness in the region. The piece below is actually from last month, but as preparations for the upcoming Carnaval season continue, it is an informative prelude to 2014 festivities.
Governor highlights 40 years of bloco afro Ilê Ayê and its social work and combating racism
“Ilê-Aiyê is a trademark of Black culture,” said Jaques Wagner, in a party celebrating 40 years of the oldest bloco afro of Bahia, on the night of Friday, November 1.
With a percussive trail, Bahians and tourists walked and danced to the sound Ilê of drums, leaving from Plano Inclinado, in Praça da Sé, passing through the streets of Liberdade arriving at the bloco’s headquarters, in the Curuzu neighborhood.
The president of the Ilê Aiye, Antônio Carlos dos Santos, better known as Vovô, received the homage from the governor Jaques Wagner and the first lady of Bahia, Fatima Mendonça, and other authorities.
Vovô said that the state came to open the door to the Movimento Negro (black movement). “We are very proud to be black and to see a greater participation of black people in power during this government,” he said .
“We always remember Mãe Hilda (Mother Hilda), who inaugurated this important nucleus of social work. Congratulations to Ilê, promoting the culture of Bahia and Africa to the world,” said the governor, remembering that the state appreciates the work accomplished by the entity: “we are always together, helping Ilê to shine even more.”
“Ilê Aiye was a milestone in the creation of all blocos afros of Brazil. Beyond baianidade (Bahian-ness) and brasilidade (Brazilianness), Ilê is a reference of resistance, tradition and religion,” said state secretary Elias Sampaio.
According to Sampaio, the state’s role is to support and encourage the body in social work and the fight against racism. One form of support will be publishing a book to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Ilê and a special edition of Cadernos de Educação (Notebooks of Education), produced by the entity since 1995.
The minister of the Secretaria da Promoção da Igualdade Racial (Secretary of the Promotion of Racial Equality), Luiza Bairros, emphasized that Ilê Aiyê was responsible for the Africanization of Carnaval in the state of Bahia. “Ilê contributed not only to Bahia, but to Brazil, incentivizing the pride of being black and inspiring the creation of various struggles against racism in the country.”
The party, which attracted more than 4,000 people to the headquarters of Ilê Aiyê and another 10,000 in the streets of Curuzu , also included with the participation of Grammy-award nominated Bahian musician Carlinhos Brown and DJ Branco.
Note from BW of Brazil: In the midst of Ilê’s 40th year anniversary celebration also came the announcement for their yearly Ebony beauty contest, which has been featured here on the blog for the past few years (see here and here).
Ilê Aiyê opens registrations for the new Ebony Goddess of Bahia
Courtesy of the Correio Nagô newsroom
On Monday, November 4, the Ilê Aiyê opens in the Senzala do Barro Preto, registrations for the choice of the new Deusa do Ébano (Ebony Goddess). During the celebration of its four decades of existence, the bloco decided to extend the age range of competitors, which can be up to 40 years of age.
Other conditions, however, have not changed: the candidates must know how to dance and learn a little about Ilê Aiyê’s trajectory, from Carnival to social projects.
The Deusa do Ébano is featured as a highlight of parades, especially during Carnival, represents the organization in various social events and participates in trips and tours, accompanying Ilê within and outside of Brazil.
About 15 candidates are chosen as finalists and compete for the title in a night of partying and celebration, the Noite da Beleza Negra (Night of the Black Beauty), the date of which has yet to be announced.
To register, those interested should seek the bloco’s headquarters in from Monday to Friday, during office hours, with a photograph.