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Interview with Cristina Nascimento Dias dos Santos Rio de Janeiro in march 1999 Interviewer: Chris ... - page 3 / 8





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It is exactly what I feel. Capoeira Angola helps me to really live, struggle in daily life. She helps me in various senses, for example physically, because the difficulties of everyday life weigh upon my back and we take a physical attitude that is very heavy. Capoeira helpes me with the whole movement. When you look at it in a broader sense it is not only the physical movement but the mobilisation that she brings internally and spiritually. She gives me more ease to lead my life, this daily struggle. She also helps me to jump over the predjudice of my life. I know about the history of family education, but I also know about the history of blacks in Brasilian society and about the lack of visibility of blacks in society. We always feel pretty invisible. That also has its psychological effects. I used to be a much more retired person, much more closed up than I am today. I was much less talkative, thinking that I was ugly and having many inner complexes, but I was sucessful in reconsidering and turning around these values, because in Capoeira we hear a lot about the history of African people. Things that we never hear in school and do not see on television. In Capoeira we see many black people taking control of their lives and transforming them. You start to look out for this inside of yourself. Other people have accomplished this transformation saying: “Watch out, you are beautiful. Look how many black people, how beautiful they are.” And you hear that a lot, much more in this world where people admire and respect black people than outside of this world. In school I suffered a lot from predjudice of my teachers and collueges. They gave me names and all the things the whole world knows already, calling me monkey and ugly. And you run around with that in your head thinking it is all true. So when I got into Capoeira I heard the opposite, I heard an enforcement of my self- esteem, and I am absolutely convinced that this was fundamental for growing in this direction, to make this salto possibel. Capoeira gave me the elements to reinvindicate this self-esteem, reinvindicate my identity. Before I began training in Capoeira I knew little about it, only seeing it a couple of times in the streets or on television. It was something that always touched me, I stopped to watch. When I started observing the classes of mestre Neco - first he let me only observing during three classes - I was charmed. I stayed from beginning to end, not practicing but participating mentally, sitting in the circle, the roda, singing and observing all the games. It was something for which I immediately felt passion.

I have a friend here in Rio practicing Capoeira for many years. She is black and in a recent discussion explained to me that she could never imagine to take lessons in Capoeira with a white person because they (the whites) lack origen and identification. She perceives Capoeira as something of blacks, and only a black person can transmit the feeling of opression and the identification of the struggle for liberation. How do you consider this question?

I already talked about the predjudice and how it was for me to live with it in society. In the same manner that I experienced it for myself I know that I also have this predjudice, but I do not want it in my life. Not taking classes with a person only because he or she is white would be a form of reinforcing this predjudice. It is logical, if you look at Manõel -who is a black person-, carrying out his work, saying things that are strong for him, it is obvious that I identify with it because I’m living it myself. I can’t deny that! But I also think when you are giving lessons as a teacher of Capoeira Angola, which is a cultural manifestation of black origin you have to instrumentalize yourself. What is the meaning of self-instrumentalisation in this case? It means knowing more concerning black culture and knowing more concerning what it means to be a black person inside of the culture of Capoeira itself. In your work you have to have the preoccupation to pass this knowledge along to others, no matter if they are black or white. Of course Manoel is going to talk about these things with a much more emotional burden, because he lives it. This difference cannot


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