Season 2, Ep.2:
Capoeira in the Diaspora
With Azmera Hammouri-Davis, MTS and Mestre Cleber Peti
TRANSCRIPITION IN ENGLISH
Jamie Lee Andreson, PhD Welcome to the bilingual podcast, Brazil Culture Connections. My name is Jamie Lee Andreson. In this second episode, “Capoeira in the Diaspora,” of our second season, Art and Culture In the Peripheries is a special collaboration with Break the Boxes
Stories, another podcast created by a good friend and colleague, Azmera Hammouri-Davis, MTS, known as The Poetic Theorist. Azmera is a Black-Palestinian American emcee, innovator,
culture-shaper, and change-maker from Kea'au, Hawaii with 2 decades experience teaching & training capoeira. She is the founder of the Break The Boxes Stories podcast. She works to highlight wisdom across cultures, faith traditions & generations. She received her Masters of
Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and double B.A. in Visual & Performing Arts and Social Sciences Psychology from the University of Southern California (USC). This episode
is a special conversation with her original capoeira mestre [capoeira master], Cleber Sousa dos Santos, known as Mestre Peti. He was born in the Cosme de Farias neighborhood in the city of
Salvador da Bahia, Brasil. He began capoeira at six years old and learned from his uncle. Today, at 52 years of age, he has worked with capoeira as a social tool for more than twenty years, including in the United States and in France. He gives free capoeira classes as a social
project for youth. He speaks Spanish, French, and English besides his native language of Portuguese. We first had a conversation in Portuguese in April of this year, and in July we decided to have a version in English with Cleber Mestre Peti offering his ideas and wisdom in
English as well. We hope you enjoy the conversation.
Azmera Hammouri-Davis, MTS Greetings. It has been a little while since we've been back on air with the community, and today is a really special episode where we get to hear from one of my mestres, my mestre of capoeira that introduced me to the craft when I was seven years old. So if you've been listening, you may know that I train capoeira. You may not know anything about capoeira or you may know a lot about it. And my hope is that at the end of this conversation, you'll emerge with more clarity, more insight into Mestre Peti’s story and more knowledge about Brazil through Jamie's wonderful podcast that you can listen to in English and in Portuguese. So without further ado, I'll pass it over to my lovely partner co-host.
Azmera Hammouri-Davis, and Cleber Sousa de Santos “Mestre Peti”
J Thank you so much Azmera and Mestre Peti. It is a pleasure to be co-hosting with you, Azmera, and learning so much about your trajectory with Mestre Peti.
So Break the Boxes:
Stories and Brazil Culture Connections have a lot in common, overlap of course, with
experiences and vivência and research in Salvador da Bahia, where Mestre Peti is from. And so we're gonna learn a lot about the local context from him, but to start for our listeners, I would love to hear from Azmera about your long-term engagement with Mestre Peti’s work and how you two got to know each other from your childhood, and also how your continued social work with capoeira, which you learned with him, how that has evolved over the years in your organization Break the Boxes.
A Amazing. Yes. Wonderful. Happy to talk a little bit about my journey before passing it to Mestre Peti. So I was introduced to capoeira when I was four years old on the big island of Hawaii, where I grew up. And I watched a capoeira performance that my mom brought me to in Hilo, Hawaii, a small mall. And my mom always tells me that I was very taken aback. I was entranced. I wouldn't move the entire time. I was just watching people move their bodies. And so when we moved from Hawaii to Pompano Beach, Florida, my mom decided to put me in capoeira. I needed somewhere to go after school. She was working. She is a single mom of four, and she learned about at the time Topazio Capoeira, which really Mestre Peti was leading a local academy. So I met Mestre Peti when I was a very, very small six year old turning seven
years old. And I would be at the classes every day after school for the beginning, intermediate and advanced classes. And I remember doing that for four years straight while we lived in Pompano Beach and loving being like a youth leader and like leading the stretches and getting to travel with all of the older, amazing capoeiristas who are doing flips and floreios and going to South Beach and doing performances. And I really was just embraced by a community that I felt very connected to. I remember people thinking that I was Brazilian and spoke Portuguese and every time they asked like, Cê fala português? And I always said no, and I felt like I let people
down. So it's part of what's motivated me to want to learn the language and to study. But beyond that, I think capoeira came into my life at a time where it was very... There was a lot of uncertainty, a lot of instability. I moved nine times. I moved to nine different schools before I entered into college. And the average person might attend three different schools, elementary, middle, and high. So just to give you an idea of some of the reality that I was coming from. Capoeira was a constant, it was...[it] became a salvation, a way of life, a way to navigate the uncertainties. So that's where I met Mestre Peti was when I was young, and I trained with him for five years until my family moved again, my family moved again to Hawaii. I was very devastated and sad because it was another sudden move. We moved a lot. I looked for capoeira here and there. I trained with some folks that were doing capoeira in Oahu (Hawaii), with Mestre Kinha. And then when I made it to college, the University of Southern California, I went through something called the “sophomore slump.” Maybe folks know what that is, where you're just basically trying to survive. You don't understand why you're in school, what you're studying, the point in it, you're just going through a slump, and I was going through it. And my mom again said, “Hey, you, you need to get back into capoeira.” So I learned about a local group called Capoeira Brasil, downtown LA with Professor Sarcuru. I started training with them and shortly after I learned that I would be able to have the opportunity to travel to Brazil and to
Salvador through my school at USC. So I decided to enroll in Portuguese classes there. I started to learn Portuguese, and in 2015, I was able to go to Brazil for one month. And I remember messaging Mestre Peti on Facebook. “Are you around?” And I remember us like really being so close to like, just getting to like meet up quickly, you know, and dar um abraço, but it didn't work. I was there on a trip for only a week in Salvador. It was a big touristy visit and a lot of privileged students, and we didn't really have agency over our time, so I didn't see Mestre Peti, but I knew thereafter that I had to come back to Brazil some way, some shape, some form to learn more about the history of capoeira in Salvador. And so two years later, I worked really hard to apply for a grant through the Fulbright program. And I ended up winning a Fulbright Creative and Performing Arts Research Grant to live in Brazil for nine months. So in 2017, I went back out there and the project that I submitted was called “Exploring the Power of Movement and Word through Capoeira and Poetry,” something I call “capoeiretics.” So that's when in December of 2017, I connected with Mestre Peti through Contra Mestre Ratinho, who I met at a dance class, Tatiana's dance class in Nazaré in Pelourinho. And he was, and basically I was like asking everyone, “Do you know who Mestre Peti is? Do you know Mestre Peti?” And Ratinho, he of course knew. And he said, “Oh yeah, like he teaches, he teaches right over there in Cosme de Farias.” And he connected me. He gave me Mestre Peti’s WhatsApp. And then I, and then I messaged [him]. And then I was talking to Mestre Peti, and basically I started to go to the academy there and Baixa da Paz in December of 2017 and I got to train at least until...until about April before I left in 2018. So I'll stop there. And that was really long, but that's a little bit of my journey and trajectory, so since then, of course I left Brazil. I came to do my graduate program here at Harvard, and I was able to continue to teach classes with young people through Bantos Capoeira, which is the group that Mestre Peti oversees and founded. But Mestre Peti has taught thousands of students capoeira for social—as a vehicle of social change. And I'm really blessed and grateful and fortunate that I got to be just one of those many students that he's taught to keep the culture alive and keep...keep our spirits alive and keep us on the
J Thank you so much for sharing. I know that was a lot in a short amount of time. You've had such a rich trajectory. And Mestre Peti, I would love to have you explain a little bit to our audience the name that you call Azmera, Abará, and what it means. And also if you could talk just about what it's like to have taught so many students around the world over your life and the impact that you've had on them.
Mestre Peti Abará—the first time I saw Abará, I saw, I saw a little piece of Brazil, you know, I saw Abará. She, she like to know everything. She [was] very close. She, she wanna try [everything], she have no fear. She [was] always close to me. I was like, my little daughter. No, I left to my daughter in Brazil. I saw Abará, wow! So I give you hug. I take [you] everywhere. I also take [you] to my house, at home I work lot, Abará there with me. They asking me, “That's your daughter?” [I] say, “That's my daughter.” I teach like a private class here, because I saw her potential. She having, she, she have good, strong potential to learn capoeira. So I thought, Wow! She can learn capoeira. Good. She have everything for capoeira. She look like Brazilian. So I thought, okay, martelo here, Abará, macaco, she could do everything. She learn quickly Capoeira, macaco, ponte, martelo, that’s capoeira’s movement. So I gave her something, okay, that's a little piece of Brazil. So, I’m from Bahia, I’m gonna give her the nickname Abará. Abarásay like special, special, special food, tradition of food for Brazil: abará acarajé. Abará come to like, I think [you] say in English “palm tree.” Ezeque bembê. I say Abará, her nickname. So her nickname is Abará, it’s a great nickname. She keep her nickname. She, she prove. No, she prove she can...she deserve to have the nickname because she never gave up of capoeira. She always train. She look for, she always on a loan. She come always surprised to see abará here in Bahia. To capoeira, you know, give me a lot of like, I was like proud, proud, proud to see Abará here, train with me again in Brazil. I was like, “Wow, she train capoeira with me a long time ago. Now she come to Brazil. Look to me. She come to do capoeira, to train capoeira with me again.” I was so happy. And I know, I know she never gonna give up. I know that. She's a capoeirista, but going to take a while cause she have a whole, whole stuff to do at school every time, but she takes capoeira in her heart. Wherever she goes, she's gonna have capoeira cause I gave her that, and she accepted that capoeira... And teach capoeira? Why, why, why I teach capoeira? For example, for example, here in Brazil, I teach capoeira for free as a little project, like a nonprofits organization. Okay. So I was like nine years old when I left to my mother. I left my mother at nine years old and my, my dad was an alcoholic, so I was by myself with nine years old. So I had a decision in my life to do capoeira, to do capoeira, to save my life because capoeira saved my life. Capoeira gave to me respect. I never gonna put anything bad in myself. I never gonna eat anything bad to make me hungry, I never gonna drink anything bad. So I put capoeira as like a salvation, sorry for my English... So I put capoeira as salvation. I put in, I put in my mind, okay. I'm gonna teach capoeira for free to help the kids, and take them out of thestreets. You know, I’m gonna give to them a goal. Yes, I can be somebody. Yes, we can do something. So I do that now for like 30 years, I help them here in Brazil. They...today, I have students. They, they are in college. They, they, they, they lawyer, they, they, they work in the police department. They, I don't know how to say in English, from capoeira, I introduce them... através da capoeira [through capoeira], I introduced them [to] society. I think like from capoeira. Yeah, from capoeira, I did that [with] many, many, many people. So that's why I, I teach capoeira as like a salvation. I use capoeira to introduce them to the reality, to the life reality. It can be a good man, good ladies, good family guy. You know, the most, the most students, they wanna do the same. They wanna treat capoeira as a salvation. They talk to me yesterday and they said, “Mestre, I wanna save people with capoeira.” Thank you. They are, they making me a heavy, heavy, like cheers in my heart because they say, “man, thank you for everything. I am prepared. Now I'm gonna give it back. What you gave to me, I'm gonna give it back. I wanna teach capoeira, I want to save people, save people.” So that's the whole idea. Prepare them to help people and use capoeira as a salvation, as an instrument to save them. Use capoeira to save them. That's the whole idea. Also, when I teach capoeira in the United States, they used to pay me and in France, but I don't teach just capoeira. I [also] teach them my experience of life. I teach them as a coach. I teach them to be a human being. You know, I teach them because capoeira is not just capoeira kicking there. No, capoeira is a life, capoeira is a philosophy. Capoeira is health, capoeira [teaches you to] be humble. Capoeira is everything good. I remember Mestre Pastinha used to say: “Capoeira is water to drink.” Clean water to drink. So. That's why I teach capoeira to help them. Put in a match. It's possible, it is possible to become somebody in life, especially in Brazil.
J Thank you so much for all of your teachings and for that beautiful message. We had aconversation in Portuguese, and I'm just gonna throw out a few of the main phrases that you used in some of the translations in case they're helpful words for your responses. You talked about integrating Black youth into society, and we'd love to hear about how you do this with your capoeira school in the neighborhood of Cosme de Farias. You also use the phrase capoeira é superação. Capoeira is overcoming or it's a form of resilience. And I would love to hear about that from either Azmera or Mestre Peti. We talked about capoeira and physical health and mental health as a form of self defense. We also got to the portion where we talked about the brain and feeding the brain. Azmera offered the idea to feed the fruits of the spirit to the brain.
And I would love to hear how that plays out in your practice in capoeira as well. So just giving us some concepts and words to continue the discussion.
A Yeah. That reminded me. Mestre Peti, you said something so great. And in Portuguese, you said, Poxa, eu não quero brigar com minha mente, right? Capoeira helps us to not, like “briga” is like, like argue or have like drama with our mind. And so for me, when I think about how capoeira has helped to feed me fruits of the spirit, every single essay that I've written for school has incorporated capoeira in some way, shape or form. My personal statement to college talked about how capoeira instilled in me this form of discipline that I was able to apply academically, creatively, and professionally. And it also instilled in me a sense of humility that Mestre Peti mentioned, because when we enter into a capoeira academy, there's this idea that anything that you're carrying with you—the drama from the day, the stress, the worries, the concerns—just for this time that we're here in this shared space, you're gonna leave that at the door, and you get to be fully present, and there's some way shape or form where for me, in my experience, being invited into space where now it's me and my body, we get some time to check in. We're gonna sweat. We're gonna pan, we're gonna kick. We're gonna have to escape. We're gonna have to be as present as we can in this moment to just respond to the next kick that's coming or the next movement. So it requires me to be alive, alert. And in that, in that process, it opens up my mind to a million other beautiful and fruitful things that I get to experience in life when I'm not overwhelmed with, with stress and with worries and with things that really are outside of my control. So I think for me, when I thought about fruits of the spirit with capoeira, I thought about the community that comes with being a capoeirista, you're constantly connecting with someone else. You can't jogo sozinho, like you can't play capoeira just by yourself. You have another partner you're playing with. And then you're also supported by the people around you who are in the roda, who are clapping or they're singing, or they're playing an instrument. There's so much life happening, energy, axé, that's being passed through the space. And so that's one of the ways that I see capoeira feeding the mind, the body, the spirit. And this day, I wanna pass it to you because I, I love... Jamie, thank you for bringing up the superação and the resilience. Yeah, that's what comes to mind. Mestre, I'm curious for you: what comes to mind?
MP Superação. It's great. It's great just to hear you talk about the connection of capoeira. Yeah. Capoeira, it's impossible for you to play capoeira by yourself. Capoeira is like energy, it’s a group energy. We need people to make the energy come to life, come true. Because capoeira is about energy. One make singer not one left, not one give energy, not one make the game of capoeira instrument as a big connection. It’s a big connection. It’s Impossible for one person by themself to make the game alone. It’s impossible. It's amazing to hear that the knowledge is very good. Very good. But for example, I say, I say in Portuguese last time about the COVID, because I stay home for like one year and a half, one year and a half. I was, I was divorced. I stayed by myself in my house. Just walk, get home, go to the gym. Every single day in Brazil because it’s...frustration, frustration, frustration. They used to have a lot of beautiful events, but that kind event do not accept me because I have no money. At that time, the color, the events, was not for my color as like paralama do sucesso. In that time in eighties, it's like for white people. It's not for me, but as I love this song, this song is amazing, but I cannot go there because I have no money. It was impossible to go. So I stay home, time me to kick, time to think, time to escape. Capoeira gave it to me: time, discipline, self-discipline. So COVID, I stay home. Read. Write. Think. Do exercise. And wait. I gave myself discipline from capoeira. I said, okay, I’m a capoeirista. I'm gonna stay home. I don't need too much clothes. I don't need too much, too much tennis shoes. I don't need money. I can't eat too much because I was afraid to get fat, get sick. So I eat little, I train a lot. I drink a lot of water. I take care of myself, so that discipline capoeira gave to me. So I passed 1 one year and a half. It's not fine, but I passed. I saw a lot of French people get crazy. They have family, the money, they in the country, they speak the language, everything, but they get crazy. I was there by myself, my family in Brazil. But I passed because the capoeira gave to me discipline, time, time to go out, time to sleep, you know. Frustration—I have a lot before, so I stay home. I stay home. I can't watch any bad movies. I just watch documentaries to learn. Like nice songs. That way I can’t get like sad, so I pass. So capoeira gave to me that the...that time I was like, I'm a mestre of capoeira. I'm the last level of capoeira. I'm a sábio [wise man]. So I'm gonna pass. I don't wanna get sick. I don't wanna go out because they don't wanna, no, that they say, if you go out, if you run more than hundred kilometers, they're gonna give like to me and say like, you gotta pay something if you pass. So I'm gonna stay home. I have discipline. Okay. I can't be sad. I can’t be sick. So I pass, I pass that whole crazy time. I say, “Think of capoeira.” I say, “Thank you very much, capoeira.”
Because capoeira prepare myself for the bad times I pass.
A Hmm. Yeah. That made me think, Mestre, about: how do you stay motivated? You've reached one of the highest ranks in capoeira possible, right, a mestre. And I know that something I learned is—through capoeira—is that no matter how much I think I know, there's always something more to learn. Like, if, if it's the physical movements, the foundation is always so important. If it's the music, there's always new songs to learn or new songs that one can create. And there's always, everyone can teach us in different ways. And so I'm wondering who you learn from now that you are at this season—because when I met you, you were Professor, Professor Cleber Peti and now you're master Mestre Peti after years and years, like you said, you've been teaching capoeira for over 30 years and you've served probably over a thousand, I think you were saying, students across France and Brazil and the US—and how do you, who do you learn from now? Who are some of the people within the capoeira space that you learn from? Because the capoeira world is so big too.
MP Capoeira say like sem fim [without end], you always learn. You learn every day. I used to have 6,000 students in Florida in my computer, a 6,000 students in 19-, 19-, no, in 2008. 6,000
students. In Brazil I think I have more than that. They pass with me. They train, they stop. They get back, go back and forth, yeah, but I think the way to learn, capoeira. I'm open. My mind is open to learn every day. And now I'm alone with you guys a little bit. You know, I learn with my students. Yesterday I teach capoeira. I taught capoeira yesterday. I learned, I learned [from] the kid. I mean, I mean, I'm open to learn how they going to act if I say something to them. How am I gonna go to them? How am I gonna receive them when they come to me? How am I gonna treat them? So I learn capoeira every day. Capoeira to me means everything. Capoeira, capoeira... How am I gonna treat my girlfriend? I use my capoeira how to treat them to make closing respect, and Lord, my friendship, to keep my friendship. I use capoeira. The way I walk. I walk carefully. For example, today I play capoeira today carefully, because I'm not 22 years old anymore. I'm 53. So I play capoeira carefully. I can't hurt myself. I walk carefully. I talk carefully because I don't want to hurt, I don't wanna disrespect nobody. So I learn capoeira every day. For example, when I got my first chord for mestre, my title for mestre in 2003, the first level capoeira mestre I got in 2003, I stayed in 2003 16 years in the first level of mestre capoeira. I didn't feel like a mestre much of that time. I was like a contra mestre or professor. So when I got my last, last chord in 2018, I got my last chord, I feel! I say, “Wow!” I have like goose bumps. I have [it]! Wow, man! I feel that responsibility, you know, respect. I say, “Wow!” I said, well, I'm a mestre, I feel like a mestre today. So from that day until today, I put in my mind, I'm in a... I don't know how to say ligas atleta?
MP I'm not an athlete anymore. I’m a mestre of capoeira today. I'm here to teach, to learn, to help, to share, you know, to put like a unit, you know, everybody is together. That's what I feel
right now. So I learn, I learn every day. I train capoeira every day. I play instruments, I sing, but I learn with you guys. I'm open to learn capoeira with you guys. I'm open to learn capoeira with other mestres, Mestre Alabamba every single day, Mestre King Kong. I'm open to learn. So I learn capoeira every day.
A Hmm. That's powerful.
J Mestre Peti, in our conversation, you said that you are a citizen of the world and you also, I love that. And you also shared with us that in your experiences around the world, you believe that Bahia is the most racist state that you've ever encountered. And I was wondering if you could talk about the importance of the name of your school, Bantos, and the social work that you do in that context.
MP Okay. Today for example, yesterday, they say to me like, European Brazilian people, white Brazilian people, they have capoeira and their capoeira is more accepted. They accept more capoeira from white Brazilian people. Okay. I say to them, I say, it looks good, but I don't accept them because capoeira is inside your body, capoeira inside your mind. It's not about color. you, if you play capoeira good, if you have a good knowledge of capoeira, nobody can take that from you. If you respect capoeira, if you practice capoeira, if you're doing the right things, nobody gonna take, because they're gonna know your capoeira. Okay. But the racism stuff is every day in Brazil, it’s every day. To me because I learned in the United States, the United States helped me a lot. When I left from Brazil to United States, I didn't know who I am. I was like, if you people say, “Oh, you [emigrated] from Africa.” I’d say, “No, no I’m Brazilian.” But I learned that. I learned that it is so true. Nobody gonna say anything to me. First of all, first all I mean, I mean, like I say, I'm a man of the world. I used to live in Spain, United States, France. Everywhere I go, I try to learn for the culture, everything. So I know who I am. So with me, they never come because they know already. They look at me they say, “Yeah, okay, that’s a problem over there.” But the racism here is very big. I saw with people, especially with the girl, the Black girl. They so insecure to talk, even to smile, they are beautiful. They are beautiful, too. But they...shy because the system give to us. If you go to school, they teach us. We come, for example, for example, they went to Africa, and take us to work as a slave. I mean, I hate they were forced slave. I hate that for Africa. It’s different. So they try to put our mind they forced slaves for that. They put pictures of the white guys sit in the table, and the Black people serve them. I remember that one as a kid. So they teach us, they make us slave after they teach us to keep slave until today. Cause, for example, here you see in Bahia, 95% is Black people here in Salvador, Bahia. 95, but they [who] control the bureaucracy is white people. They make more money! They control the musician [who] come from us, but we sell to them. They buy, and control Daniella Mercury, verde, we make this beautiful song, but we sell to them. They buy the song. You see? So we still don't buy from them. So let’s see, for example, Tori Materia, Nina, Tato. They very good. They make beautiful song, but here in Bahia, you have no space for them. It's amazing. Unbelievable. Unbelievable. So, yeah, it's like they smile to you. They say “I love you,” but it's not never the real thing. They always take from us. Take from us because they have the control, they have more money. So you make your sound. For example, Olodum. Olodum is the biggest block of percussion in the world. Olodum. But Olodum makes sound and local people here like 6,000 people hear this song. Fine. Then Daniella Mercury come and buy Olodum song. Boom. Daniella Mercury put it in the whole world, maybe go to Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, maybe United States because United States is closed for them. The musician, the music is too strong. They don't go there, but Olodum make beautiful song for 6,000 people. Daniela may get the same song, and put the whole Brazil, because the door is open for Daniela, but closed for Margareth Menezes.
A Yeah. You're commenting on the historical reality of and legacy of slavery that continues to exist today and disproportionately affect Afro descendants, Black and brown people, especially Black women, like you said. And, and I just, I think it's so important to place and really
emphasize the racial dynamics. And the class dynamics that you're highlighting because as you said, capoeira is a large world in and of itself. Recently, there was a report that shared there's over 6 million practitioners with capoeira, but that doesn't mean that everyone is a capoeirista, something that I've learned and continue to learn and to hear from folks who really grew up in the culture. And I'm wondering about the role that you see with women and Black women in leadership in capoeira, if you see that exists. I know that there are other women, women that I enjoyed, like learning from and training with when I came and visited. I loved working with the young people and teaching them. Really, really capoeira was such an inspiration for the founding of Break the Boxes. And it was a gift to be able to teach through Break the Boxes at Cosme de Farias English and creative writing and poetry, and to learn from, you know, I trained with acarajé or Formiga, Ingride, I think her name is. And even I think Boneca, just other women. And I'm curious where you think women's role and leadership lies in capoeira, especially Black women.
MP Bantus Capoeira, Bantus [is an] African name. Bantus. The first, the first African people
come to Brazil to work as a slave: Bantus. So the people, Bantus Capoeira. Bantus is very
smart African people. They create a Kingdom and help the Kingdom of Congo. So I saw, I say,
“Wow! Look like me.” I love the name Bantus, strong, African, and smart. Sometimes people call me clever. So it's smart. So I say, “Wow, I love them.” The first African people coming to Brazil, walk as clever. Let's see. Wow. So I take anything from me. No, I’m not like it. For example, for example, I come from Europe, it takes so many things, now makes sense. It’s from my origin, I want to take care of Capoeira. Capoeira as capoeira before nobody played regional or Angola. Everybody played capoeira as a capoeirista. So Mestre Bimba created capoeira regional, capoeira local, capoeira regional after Mestre Bimba created, put in the gym, everything then Mestre Pastinha gave the name capoeira Angola. I'm not a student of Mestre Bimba. I'm a capoeirista. I play capoeira. I follow the Berimbau. Because before capoeirista play capoeira on the floor, they play capoeira [standing] up. I’m a capoeirista. Whatever the Berimbau plays, I'll do my game with no problem at all, with no separation. I have a lot of respect for Mestre Bimba, a lot of respect for Mestre Pastinha. I say “thank you very much” to them, but I mean my first mestre is aluno Mestre Canjiquinha. Mestre Canjiquinha come from Mestra Aberrê, Mestre Aberrê come from Mestra Pastinha. I can’t say I’m an Angoleiro because my first mestre, didn’t teach me capoeira Angola, they [taught] me capoeira. So I’m a capoeirista. Contemporânea? I don’t know, I don’t know what's going on with contemporânea. I heard Mestre Camisa say “Capoeira right now is contemporânea da da da.” Then he says contemporânea, contemporânea, it never did. Now it’s going to capoeira Sertão here in Bahia. He's very smart. So a lot of people lost right now. Oh, contemporânea? They get lost. So I don't know about contemporânea. But I created that. I created Bantus Capoeira to keep helping. You know, young people integrate, and put it in the right way [into] sociedade [society]. With capoeira, make them help, you know, to keep the capoeira strong in Bahia, you know, to teach the right thing. I don't wanna create anything else because it's impossible to create anything else in capoeira and is here and just gonna keep capoeira, respect, capoeira, you know, and teach [them] the right things. I don't need to prove anything to nobody. I just gonna keep teaching the right thing. I went to Europe, I saw they have their style contemporâneo. We have, I don't know. Maybe I gotta learn capoeira again. Because here you guys create everything. Can you guys explain to me what’s contemporânea mean? So contemporânea comes from Mestre Camisa, is you guys Mestre Camisa student? They say No. So I am lost here. What's going on. Explain to me. They don't have no idea how they gonna explain to me. They got lost. We go to play capoeira. Capoeira is a martial arts. Capoeira is created by the slave to protect by the owner. Capoeira is a fight after that you have a culture, musician, everything is created to protect by the owner. So they play capoeira over there. They play, they smile. They make it...but I get lost. I say I think I gotta learn Capoeira again. So I have a big meeting over there. Three mestres said to me, “Mestre thank you for saying that I question myself right now. I don’t know how they make contemporânea. Because contemporânea is not based on not reality. Reality makes no sense. So some mestres of capoeira agree with me. And some mestre didn't like, they didn’t like what I said. So that's why I say contemporânea, I don't know how to say contemporânea, but I know about capoeira. Capoeira before I say, capoeira. You know why? The year of 1980, the capoeira ‘85 is like very, very weak year by year because Mestre Pastinha [was] sick. The whole Mestres of Capoeira and Mestre Bimba, in ‘85 already left from Bahia. You know who kept capoeira in Bahia, it was capoeira de rua, in mercado modelo, capoeira in piedade. They keep the capoeira in Bahia. After Mestre Moraes come to Brazil in ‘82 he talked to all the old Mestre’s, and made the capoeira Angola come alive again... Oi?
A Oh, no, I was just thinking about Mestre Moraes’ work with capoeira Angola in the Forte do
Santo Antônio and the influence.
MP Yeah. So when he made the first encontro of capoeira Angola here in Bahia, they invite
Mestre Canjiquinha; he wasn't teaching capoeira anymore, Mestre Cobra Verde, Mestre
Valdemar—everyone to start, to keep it up the capoeira Angola. So Mestre Moraes could make
the capoeira grow again in ‘92, something like that. Yeah. So yeah. So the capoeira de rua [of
the street], saved capoeira because they keep it up. They do Capoeira there, people come and
see Capoeira here in Bahia. So that's why I say, I can't say the same thing about capoeira
Angola and regional about contemporânea. But Bantus capoeira, I created Bantus capoeira
because the name, where the name comes from and why. So I created there, and I give good
and take care of the name because it is my heritage, you know, my heritage is coming from
Africa. I explain it to my students every day. How powerful the name it is, how important it is.
Bantus Capoeira Salvador, Bahia here in the world. Salvador, Bahia, in America, you have
Bantus with you, in França, in Espanha, everywhere.
A Yeah. Oh, wow. So, so such a powerful meaning of the name. And I love that it connects us to
the roots and to the motherland of Africa and, and specifically in capoeira’s history with Angola
coming over to Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. For those who aren't familiar, during the transatlantic
slave trade, over 2 million enslaved people were brought to the port of, um, in Salvador, Bahia,
Brazil, and capoeira's original sort of, one of the original games in Angola was thought to be the
Engolo. And there's a mestre, Mestre Cobra Mansa, who does some of his doctoral research in
Angola about the original kind of movement, but then that evolved when they came to... That
evolved when they came to Salvador. As with any cultural export, it's evolving, it's growing, it's
changing, that's met with a lot of...some embrace it, some resist. There's a lot of different things
that come with learning about a cultural tradition that's also coming up against modernity and
what it means to be existing within a capitalist framework in society. But that'll have to be for
next time, because I know that that's a lot of other, kinda worms that that opens up. So for now, I
just want to offer a really big thank you to you, Mestre Cleber, for your time again, and for your
beautiful English. It's so impressive that you've learned English on your own. Again, something
that you've shared has been a gift that capoeira has given you the ability to learn four different,
five different languages. You speak English and French and Spanish and of course, Portuguese.
And am I missing one? I feel like you speak another language too.
MP No, no, that's enough.
A You know, and just...
MP Thank you guys. Thank you!
A Yeah, absolutely. It's always such a gift, and I hope that I can visit Brazil soon again. And we
just thank you for the work that you're continuing to do to empower young people, young people
who have promise and who deserve to be global citizens and have the resources that they
need. And I wanna thank you Jamie, as well. And thank you so much for this collaboration. You
all are listening to Brazil Culture Connections and Break the Boxes stories. This is Azmera, and
until next time, stay lifted and stay blessed.