“Liberate Our Sacred Items”: Civil Police begin returning sacred items
Note from BW of Brazil: It’s a well-known fact that when Europeans began to exploit the African continent, they took not only the bodies, but also the resources. It’s not a secret that much of what Europe is today is due to the robbery and seizure of numerous natural resources. To this day, without many of resources found in Africa, many multi-national companies would probably be out of business. Just think about the industries that depends on Africa to create its wealth. Think of jewelry the business, the cell phones, videos games and computers, and this isn’t even a scratch on the surface.
Another facet of the robbery of Africa are the thousands of pieces of art and artifacts that were lifted ending up in European museums in England, France, Belgium, Germany and other countries. Just for consideration of the quantity of African items housed in European museums, understand that:
“Quai Branly museum in Paris houses 70,000 cultural objects from Sub Saharan Africa, 85 percent of all collections at the Africa Museum in Belgium are from the Congo and Humboldt Forum in Germany has in its possession 75,000 African traditional relics.”
Along the way, these nations have created numerous legal obstacles in order to block various African nations from taking action on their demands for the return of these items to the countries to which they belong.
Well, it’s not just Europeans who stole from Africans. Another facet to this practice took place in the Americas. Followers of African-origin religions in Brazil have carried on a similar struggle for the return of their sacred items, not with direct Europeans, but their descendants in power in the country. In past articles, I’ve written about the repression of Afro-Brazilian cultural practices such as capoeira, samba and candomblé.
If it weren’t enough that these cultural manifestations suffered often times violent forms of oppression, they were also appropiated and turned into “coisas do Brasil” or ‘Brazilian things’ rather than African. If you’ve ever met a Brazilian capoeira master in the United States, for example, charging exorberant prices for instruction, you might notice that he looks nothing like the people responsible for the art form and who suffered violence on the part of the State that sought to snuff out this symbol of African resistance.
One of these days I’ll have to do a detailed report on this history, but for now, I just wanted to share a bit of good news in terms of followers of the Candomblé religion in Rio de Janeiro finally earning so long overdue justice in terms of their stolen sacred items.
Return of sacred objects from candomblé and umbanda in Rio de Janeiro
Courtesy of Viu Online
The State Secretariat of Civil Police of Rio is returning the entire collection from religions of African and Brazilian origin that was under its custody. The material that is part of the collection has sacred objects for the Umbanda and Candomblé religions, seized between 1889 and 1945.
For the Secretariat’s chief of staff, delegate Daniel Mayr, the return of the material, which was under the authority of the agency, represents a unique moment, contemplating the true owners of the collection. The material will be delivered to the “Liberte o Nosso Sagrado” (“Liberate Our Sacred”) movement.
“We are carrying out the spontaneous return of items to which they have always belonged,” said the chief.
For the director of the Civil Police Museum, delegate Gisele Vilarinho, the signature of this term will go down in history.
“It started in the 18th century and, in the 21st century, we are giving it back to who it belongs to. We are a police that does not repress religion, but crime. Today we start a journey towards the future,” she said.
During the ceremony, which was attended by delegates and members of the “Liberate our Sacred” movement, the Candomblé representative, Mãe Meninazinha, emphasized that the act is a moment of emotion, after many years of struggle for the collection to return to whom it rightfully belongs.
“I just have to thank you. We are together today to receive our sacred. Thank you very much” said the religious leader.
Among the collection returned with more than 200 items are images of entities, drums, pipes, clothing and other items that were confiscated over a hundred years ago.
Understanding the Case
These objects were in the custody of the Civil Police, because articles of the Criminal Code of 1890 and Penal Code 1942 forbade practices such as “spiritism, magic and its sacrilege” and “healerism”. As a result, several terreiros (religious temples) were the target of police raids until the 1940s.
The objects were on display at the Civil Police Museum, where the Department of Social Political Order (DOPS), in downtown Rio de Janeiro, functioned for many years as pieces of “magia negra”, or “black magic”, an adjective that for many years served to depreciate religions of African origin.
Source: Portal Viu