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Interview with Cristina Nascimento Dias dos Santos Rio de Janeiro in march 1999 Interviewer: Chris ... - page 2 / 8

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An important question in the work with Manõel is the cultural reinvindication of civil rights3. Can you give me your vision or opinion on that issue, opening a political context?

Manõel works in a way that means really going into the ghettos in order to get the people involved.

What is the ghetto? Is it the same as the favelas?4

It refers to the communities that lie on the margens of the big urban centers5. The people living in these areas are marginalized from the opportunities which are offered in the big urban centers. In these places Manõel tries to do a very educating work in the sense that he strengthens certain elements with which the people working in these groups can focus on while at the same time living in community with others, and thereby percieving another context apart from the social environment that they usually live in. Whenever there is an event in whatever part of Rio de Janeiro Manõel tries to take the children there because he is working mainly with children in these communities. In this way he tries to show a different side that exists. Moreover he talks about our culture, the importance to preserve Capoeira in itself, questions of racism and the predjudices that people are living all the time in our society. All that enforces the elements to reach the reinvendication of civil rights. We start to reconsider our rights, our actions in the city, our search for a space of existence in this society, to make us visible. What happens is that we often stay inside of the ghetto and believe that this is our world, the world that we have a right to. For most of these people the ghetto is the only space of their own. It is important that they appreciate this space as a space where they live and survive for many years, that they even appreciate this space as culture, but perceiving that there are other spaces where they have a right to be.

Is Capoeira a form of rediscovering space in society? Is it discover or rediscover?

I think it is discovering if you take the individual life of a person and rediscovering when you look at the person as a member of society. From birth on the person has this right, only it has never been made clear. Maybe the person has heard about this right various times, but she has never experienced it. So I think in this sense it is rediscover, for it is something that already belongs to her since she was born. But as she has never experienced it, she considers it as something new.

In a different conversation, you pointed out that through practicing Capoeira you experienced a mayor personal change. A personal change which you feel in your daily life, because Capoeira touches the inside of a person. Can you say something about this aspect, how Capoeira brought you a new identity, a reinforcement of your self-confidence and helped you to get through your life?

3 People practicing Capoeira Angola often transmit political values and goals which are close to anticolonial and antiracist conscience.

4 5 Favelas are often situated close to the morros. The rich live at the seashore and the poor expand over the hills. . The restructuring of the urban space in the metropolitan cities and the hereby connected segregation process is taking place also in the economic and trade- centres of the “third world countries”. The capital and the higher income- classes are concentrated in the centres of the cities, poverty is banished to the peripheric city- zones. Poverty and marginalisation is related very much to the coloured population, which has to organize its existence far away from white prosperity in the suburbian areas of the big cities.

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