Oi Gente!

Today marks my 10th day in Brazil. I can’t believe we have been here for so long.

A lot has happened since my last post. First of all, I went to a Candomblé celebration. My host family asked me, “Do you want to see Candomblé?” I agreed, because honestly I didn’t want to be alone in the house for several hours. I was told not to wear any black, brown or dark colors. I couldn’t wear anything above my knees but I was supposed to get dressed up a bit. When we got to the Candomblé house, I saw that everyone was wearing the essentially the same colors: blue and white. Dress ranged from what I would say traditional African to modern dresses. People were literally spilling out of the Candomblé house. They crowded the door and leaned in on the windows. My host family kept trying to push me through the thick crowd but for a long time all I could here were the pounding of drums and hollers from inside the house. Eventually we pushed past the hoards and into the house, and what I saw was beautiful. A group of women dressed in the traditional Candomblé outfit. Some stood off to the side, but then others, and a man, danced wildly in a circle of spectators. While they danced they shouted and some actually collapsed to the ground. I didn’t know what any of it meant until the next day when we had a class about Afro-Brazilian culture. The people of Candomblé recognize thousands of spirits called Orishas. When they dance, they can get possessed by these Orishas and let the Orishas dance around here on earth. Candomblé is an interesting religion because for years it was viewed as witchcraft and people were persecuted for following it. Even today many Christian churches try to convert those of Candomblé and view it as a lessor religion. Many people believe that people who are members of  Candomblé also fully believe in Catholicism and practice it side by side. This is because when the African slaves first came to Brazil, they were forced to disguise their religion under Catholic practices, so that they would be able to continue to practice in secret. This did eventually lead to a blend of religions for some people, but the current leader of Candomblé is advising her people to stop pretending to practice Candomblé under the guise of Catholicism. One isn’t allowed to take photos of  Candomblé, and therefore I don’t feel comfortable inserting any pictures of Candomblé into this post, but of you google Candomblé, there are some photos that will help you to understand better.

We also took a trip to Ilê Axé Opó Afonjá. Here their were several houses given to the Orisha. Each person on Earth has an Orisha. You can only go into the house of a certain Orisha if that Orisha is connected with you. Also an interesting fact is that these houses are legally registered under the names of the Orisha. The people that belong to that Orisha make donations to be able to pay for the houses bills like gas or lighting.

Here in Salvador, Candomblé is everywhere. It permeates almost every aspect of life in Salvador and the people are very proud of their religion. Candomble has created a unique culture here in Salvador. It connects the Afro-Brazilian people here to their brothers in Africa, that still practice the same religion, just in slightly different forms. As a African-American student, I am slightly jealous of the Afro-Brazilian people because of this. Their culture is so rich and fresh, while many of the slaves in America converted to Christianity and many lost their roots to Africa. I regret this.

Published by Naomi '18

Naomi Randell is soon to be a sophomore at Colorado College. Currently she is quite unsure what she wants to study, but hopefully will have that little matter resolved by the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Naomi has taken one Portuguese class before her exscursion to Brazil, and looks forward to learning as much as she can while in Brazil!