Sunday, July 10, 2011

Afrakan Survival Arts of Capoeira!

 AfRaKan Survival Arts of Capoeira!


Africans who migrated to Brazil brought with them the practice of a combat skill or science (martial art) now called Capoeira. Its methods are acrobatic dances, with the results often brutal, and when needed, deadly.

Born from the ever-present need to protect themselves in a hostile environment, Capoeira was and is composed of feline-like movements, where participants may use cartwheels, flips, handstands and many other acrobatic moves to avoid strikes and injury by opponents. Practitioners use sweeps, kicks, head butts, gouges, and punches in order to strike their opponent. All of these actions are combined to compose a beautiful, yet devastating form of combat art for self-defense, which protected its ancient families and participants from opponents and at time enslavers.

Practitioners of Capoeira gather in a circle, called a Roda, and those who surround the contestants sing, clap and play sacred, very specialized and handmade musical instruments such as the berimbau (string instrument) and drums. This music puts everyone into a meditative trance. Then the contestants perform a movement called the Ginga (Jinga), where they move around each other, almost like a dance, in order to disorient their opponent. After this point, it is open season on both opponents, as contestants leap into an array of deceptive offensive and defensive movements against each other. As one contestant leaves the circle another immediately takes his place. This interaction between the group continues until the group decides to disband.

Its practitioners were able to create such force through their movements and surprise tactics that it was not uncommon for victims to be knocked out suddenly or die from it's blows. Users of this combat art might also place razors between their toes or used hidden knives to unmercifully deal with those who chose to cross their paths.



Capoeira's origins are often disputed. There are many who disagree on whether it arrived with enslaved Africans or whether Africans created it once they reached Brazil. One theory suggest that it was a courtship dance in Angola used by suitors of young women. Another suggests that it was a fighting system that was refined and evolved by Africans to its dancing form in the Brazilian enslavement era. Regardless, of these disagreements, the ultimate truth is that no one disputes that it is an original African creation.

On the numerous plantations of the Brazilian countryside, Africans practiced and used these methods. They would be able to practice this combat art, and refine their skills, in plain sight of their enslavers, because the beautiful songs, chants, specialized instruments and percussion that were played, surrounded and accompanied their "dances."

Much like our Ancestors' practice of Santeria, where, they were not allowed to practice the health and healing practices of their ancient societies of the Voodun and Ifa, they hid their spiritual practice in plain site, using the very Catholic Saint icons and symbols of their enslavers .


Brazilian Maroons, who were Africans who escaped enslavement and formed alliances with "Native Americans", were notorious for using Capoeira against hunters, trackers and soldiers who were attempting to return them to a state of slavery. Survivors of ambushes with Maroons that involved hand-to-hand combat described scenes of mayhem, stating that the Maroons appeared from nowhere striking them with blows from angles that they could not fathom. It was not uncommon to hear of these enslavers running away in an attempt to escape these vicious attacks.


As a result of these deadly interactions that were occurring between Africans and colonialists, Capoeira was banned by "slave owners" and other leading authorities. However, always creative, the community found ways to keep it alive. As Capoeira was incorporated into dance movements in public, secret times and locations were arranged for its practice in private. The actions of the Africans practicing their combat art whenever and however they could ensured the survival of Capoeira throughout Brazil's history of African enslavement.


After the banning of slavery in 1888, Brazil continued to ban the practice of Capoeira and it was widely viewed as base practice by "thugs" and "criminals". Despite restrictions, the official ban of Capoeira could not last and the will of the people defeated the will of the state. Fortunately, many African Brazilians who realized its true value and history did not allow the criminalizing of their combat art and continued to practice Capoeira. Without such restrictions, the martial art of Capoeira has evolved into the form which is practiced today. Elements of the Cultural Arts, dance and combat art have both survived to create an experience which is both mesmerizing as well as instructive.






In conclusion, it is my intention that the role of Africans in Capoeira and in the evolution of combat arts should not be ignored, forgotten or denied. The bravery of its practitioners in the past to protect their freedom and in the present to maintain their traditions is a testament to the fact that true greatness cannot be suppressed and never destroyed.


(source: http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/capoeira.html)



In 1991, Adenike’s Arts opened specializing in Original People's handcrafted notions and accessories. We make Red Black and Green - Fags in honor of AfRaKan AmeRaKan Culture and heritage, Creating is a healing holistic therapy for the wellness of our Gnomes and Klans! We celebrate the circles of life as Kemetic Aboriginal Ministers, Officiating in Weddings, African Consultations and Namings, Home Blessings, Seasonal Events and Performance Arts. We practice color, light, sound and aromatherapy as well as the study of Crystals and electromagnetic energy healing. There is food, color, aroma elemental essence in every venture to empower the Aku to assist in advancing Abundance, Wealth, and Prosperity. I hope you enjoy our Discussions on Arts and Crafts, Health, Mandala Healing, Native Aboriginal and American Cultures unlimited. We will explore the Sol-Feggio, Fractal Energy and the Secret Life of Plants. Helpful Hints, and Aboriginal philosophy. We Welcome your contributions to the discussions. Please Contact us for Arts, Healing, Ceremony & Classes adenike.arts@gmail.com , amen.parankh@gmail.com , amen.ankh@live.com , Call: 816-281-7075 Please like our facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/Green.Griot https://www.facebook.com/PARANKH , https://www.facebook.com/Amen.Ankh.Farm , https://www.facebook.com/Adenike.Art , https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ankh-The-Way-of-Life-Communities

Friday, March 18, 2011

Black Pete - Zwarte Piet - African Presence in Early Europe



Zwarte Piet/ Pieten(Black Pete) is depicted annually, as a profound Character who has deep roots in traditional Dutch and Netherlands folklore. He appears in The Netherlands as a Spanish Moor (common to southern Holland in the 1500s), in caricature, as a Black man, with gold earrings and colorful period costumes of a Moor.

Zwarte Piet chose to work with Saint Nicholas as his engineer and magical accompaniment. Since the 18th century in Holland, he has been depicted as a companion to Saint Nicholas in all of his holiday travels. Zwarte Pieten is today commonly depicted as a black person in the colorful pantaloons, feathered cap and ruffles of a Renaissance Moor, This character and tradition was later recorded in a children's book published in 1850. Zwarte Pieten is often portrayed as a mischievous but rarely mean-spirited character, the character is believed to have been derived from Bes the spirit pagan after his traditions. Nowadays, Zwarte Pieten has become a much more respected assistant of Saint Nicholas, often humorous, self-determined, magical and playful. 

Wikipedia:

Zwarte Piet (pronounced ['zʋɑrtə pit], translated to "Black Pete") is the companion of Saint Nicholas (DutchSinterklaas from which the American figure of Santa Claus is derived,) in the folklore of the Low Countries. In its modern form, the character is commonly depicted as a blackamoor, with blackface make-up, and dressed in stylized colorful Renaissance attire, akin to Maures in European heraldry, and similar to Moorish characters in the "Moors and Christians" Iberian folk festivals commemorating the Reconquista.


Currently, the media is presenting articles about the many Black people who are protesting the public displays of Zwarte Piet by Dutch people wearing "blackface" and Moorish styled costumes. So now the Dutch, meet Globalization –We now exist in a global world and that means we have to expand our knowledge about other cultures and peoples that make up diverse societies. The festival of Black Pete does, appear to be the glaring elephant in the room in the face of the invasion of South Africa by the Dutch!.. I now reflect back as a child living in Germany, people were so fascinated by us as a family, when they saw us in public, at Shopping districts. They would sometimes approach me as a child, and touch my skin… Seeing us must have brought back childhood memories of Black Pete. Understanding that the depiction of Moors and Moorish people in Europe has been slanted as one of servitude, now that there are more Black citizens in Europe, due to the colonization of Africa and the rest of the world, We now see people of African descent living as equals and in authority, all over Europe.

The History of the Moors in Europe goes back to a successful harmony of rulership for almost 1000 years.
Yet, Black Twa /Khoisan were actually the first to populate early Europe more than 150,000 years ago, before the first appearance of Caucasians- 10,000 years ago. Their presence was still in existence, living as Original peoples in Europe. The Twa Khoisan, lived in the black forest, up to their discovery by Nazis, after WWII. The Nazis gave these remaining Original Europeans the choice of sterilization or incarceration in a death camp.

Black Pete was a free man who voluntarily worked with "Sinterklaas." He had the upper hand over his counterpart, and was the essential agent in the success of this operation for children. Yet the perpetuation of the depiction of servitude, (which reinforces the idea that Black people should be always in that role,) together with the notorious and horrible history and tradition of black-face in the US, means that it is time to revisit some of the old traditions and change them. It does matter that the tradition of black-face was most prominent and therefore most hurtful in the United States.

Black-Face was worn by Caucasian men, in the United States in the late 19th through the 20th Centuries of the U.S. For more than 100 years, an act of domestic terrorism against people of African descent, was cast as the laws of Jim Crow. The United States actually created domestic State laws against people of African descent, as a backlash to the reconstruction period, after the domestic Civil War of 1891.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_War
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_the_American_Civil_War
The American Civil War was a war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War is the most studied and written about episode in U.S. history. Primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people, war broke out in April 1861
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackface
But as with all things, we must find the balance between honoring what is important and adapting to the needs to respect the human dignity of all. If we wish to remember or honor the tradition of "Black Pete", then let him be portrayed by willing black actors/celebrants and as the willing friend of Sinterklaas that he is, and not a comic figure, slave or buffoon. I know that he has been portrayed by Dutch for countless generations in blackface, as a celebration for children, of a long-forgotten historical person, most likely a Moor. However, the time for blackface anywhere has come to an end.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/15/black-pete-arrests_n_6163926.html














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In 1991, Adenike’s Arts opened specializing in original handcrafted notions, and accessories. Creating is a healing holistic therapy for the wellness of our Gnomes and Klans! We celebrate the circles of life as Kemetic Aboriginal Ministers, Officiating in Weddings, African Consultations and Namings, Home Blessings, Seasonal Events and Performance Arts. We practice color, light, sound and aroma therapy as well as the study of Crystals and electromagnetic energy healing. There is food, color, aroma elemental essence in every venture to empower the Aku to assist in advancing Abundance, Wealth, and Prosperity. I hope you enjoy our Discussions on Arts and Crafts, Health, Mandala Healing, Native Aboriginal and American Cultures unlimited. We will explore the Sol-Feggio, Fractal Energy and the Secret Life of Plants. Helpful Hints, and Aboriginal philosophy. We Welcome your contributions to the discussions. Please Contact us for Arts, Healing, Ceremony & Classes adenike.arts@gmail.com , amen.parankh@gmail.com , amen.ankh@live.com , Call: 816-304-7240 Please like our facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/Green.Griot https://www.facebook.com/PARANKH , https://www.facebook.com/Amen.Ankh.Farm , https://www.facebook.com/Adenike.Art , https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ankh-The-Way-of-Life-Communities/140162689375565