Note from BW of Brazil: For this blog, Ilê Aiyê’s yearly homage to the black woman, the Deusa do Ébano (Goddess of Ebony) contest is something that is always highly anticipated! In a country that seems bent on ignoring the beauty of African descendants, the contest and equally vibrant celebration is an event that should take place more than once a year. Hard to believe that its already been more than a year since Daiana Ribeiro dos Santos was crowned the “goddess” of 2013. This year’s event was also special for the commemoration of Ilê Aiyê’s 40th anniversary. The bloco afro was considered radical back when it debuted in 1974, only accepting self-identified blacks, having “the nerve” to proclaim the beauty of Afro-Brazilians, and even thinking of calling themselves “Poder Negro (Black Power)” before being “convinced” by authorities that this wasn’t a good idea. Ilê Aiyê remains part of the reason why Bahia, particularly Salvador, is associated with this strong vibe of black pride that so many around the world have become enchanted with. For anyone interested in the African Diaspora, Salvador, Bahia and Ilê Aiyê and a must see! For more photos see here.
Ilê Aiyê elects Ebony Goddess of 2014
by Márcia Luz; photos by Márcia Luz
Persistence was the attitude of the entrepreneur Cynthia Paixão de Jesus, 28, who after six years, won the title of Queen of the Most Beautiful of the Beautiful
After six years of trying, the businesswoman Cynthia Paixão de Jesus, 28, is the Deusa do Ébano (Goddess of Ebony) 2014. Elected on Saturday, February 8th, in a party in Senzala do Barro Preto in the Curuzu neighborhood, she competed for the title with the other 14 finalists. The annual “goddess” is highlighted not only for beauty but for performance with choreography and costumes, as well as demonstrating attitude and elegance. As queen, she will parade with Ilê Aiyê during Carnival, accompany the group at all performances throughout the year, including in international travel.
She also received the trophy from the hands of actor Lázaro Ramos – he attended the night parade featuring a scenic procession – and over R$3,600 in cash. The second and third prizes went to Vânia Silva Oliveira and Jedjane Mirtes de Souza, respectively. They also receive the fantasy of coming out with Ilê in Carnival, a trophy for participation and awards of R$3000 and R$2,500.
“This is my sixth year trying for this title. For me it’s a great honor to be part of this wonderful organization. Being Deusa do Ébano (Ebony Goddess) in the 40 years of Ilê means a lot and I will honor and represent all black women with responsibility and with respect,” said a thrilled queen. She also said that she intends to participate in all moments of Ilê and share with others what she learned, especially about the history and traditions of the bloco afro.
In an interview with iBahia, the President of Ilê, Vovó, stressed that the election of the Ebony Goddess is the biggest pre-Carnival Ilê party and earns significance and palpability being an event focused on empowering women. “Black women suffered with very, very low self-esteem, I’m sure that the emergence of the Noite da Beleza Negra (Night of the Black Beauty) may have been one of the great affirmations for them,” he said. This year marked a novelty for the contest: the age limit of the candidates was 18-40 years old, marking the commemorative date.
The night in the Senzala do Barro Preto also had the presence of actor Érico Brás, who performed with Muzenza, Band’Aiyê, Ângelo Flávio and Malê Debalê, Filhos de Gandhy, Cortejo Afro and Bando de Teatro Olodum, and the pagode group Fundo de Quintal. Singer Caetano Veloso, who has on the jury in previous years, was also honored at the party, but arrived at the time of awarding of the queen, because on the same night he participated as part of the project ‘Pipoca Moderna’ with Márcia and Ney Matogrosso in Club Fantoches de Euterpe.
To the sound of Band’Aiyê, the Ebony Goddess of 2013 Daiana Ribeiro, also paid tribute to Ilê, making her farewell with a beautiful dance number. Remember that Daiana made history in her reign. She was involved in all social projects of the organization, traveled throughout Brazil with the group and participated in the Concha Acústica, in the recording of the first Ilê DVD, which is scheduled for release on the 28th at the headquarters of the entity.