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Note from BW of Brazil: I must say, there were quite a few memorable moments in this Carnaval, all over Brazil! It’s time like these that a full-time staff is necessary to cover everything. Although Carnaval is officially over, there were enough news-worthy stories and photos that I could feature here for at least another week! Anyway, today’s post takes us back to ‘Roma Negra’, ‘Black Rome’, Salvador, Bahia, and one of the cities longest-running, most important blocos afros, Olodum.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the group’s debut album, Egito Madagascar, and in recognition, the theme and costumes took from the history of Egito Antigo, or Ancient Egypt. The photos alone are enough to make me wish I could have experienced the parade live and in color! It wasn’t possible, but we can still appreciate the wonderful photos and video!
Olodum returns to Egypt 30 years later
Olodum presented the theme ‘The Sun – Akhenaton: The Paths of Light’
The Osmar circuit (Campo Grande) (see note one) was taken over by the unmistakable samba-reggae beat of Olodum, on Tuesday afternoon (2/28).
With old hits, such as ‘Protesto Olodum’ (‘Olodum Protest’), ‘Rosa’ and ‘Nossa Gente’ (Our People), the Afro group was accompanied by the masses of revelers. “We know of the economic difficulties of the country. Therefore, Olodum thanks the support of the State Government, which enabled us to do this beautiful party for the crowd,” said vocalist Matheus Vidal.
For aesthetician Edna Brito, who was accompanying the crowds of Campo Grande, being close to the artists and being able to see everything up close is the best part of the trios without cords.
“Every year has to be like 2017: full of good attractions pulling the crowd because it gets closer to the people, it doesn’t divide the audience with the ropes, everybody plays together on the streets, as it has to be. This is the most tranquil crowd I have ever seen,” said the beautician.
In this Carnival, Olodum presented the theme “O Sol – Akhenaton: Os Caminhos da Luz” (The Sun – Akhenaton: The Paths of Light), in honor of the 30th anniversary of the group’s first album: Egito Madagascar (‘Egypt Madagascar’). The first samba reggae album in the world, it was released in 1987, with the acclaimed song “Faraó Divindade do Egito” (Pharaoh Divinity of Egypt), remembered by Olodum in its passage through Campo Grande.
How is one to understand the strength of this song, the most important anthem in the history of the bloco afro? “A Pharaoh is Egypt, mysticism, mystery. Everything to do with Olodum and Bahia,” says Rita de Cassia, 48, 30 of them parading with the bloco. Rita defines herself as an “in love with Olodum” and sings the complex lyrics composed by Luciano Gomes during the parade in Campo Grande, under a sun that wouldn’t let up. During the parade, instead of braided hair, turbans of Tutankhamen were worn.
For vendor Marcela Lima Miranda, 34, the song has a didactic function fundamental to the understanding of our origin. “Pharaoh speaks about our ancestors, about Ancient Egypt. It teaches a lot. There is no better way to understand Egypt than by listening to this song,” says the Caminho de Areia resident.
Representatives of the Axé music monarchy, such as Daniela Mercury, agree. “It changed the world,” said Rainha Má, about the Afro anthem, in Chico Kértesz’s documentary Axé – Canto do Povo de um Lugar (Axé – Song of a People, of a Place), which was released in early 2016. At the time, the diva acted as backing vocal for the Eva Band, but already knew, after Faraó, Bahian Carnival would never be the same.
The Circuito Osmar, also called Campo Grande, is the most traditional of the Carnival of Salvador, Bahia, and has a course of approximately 4 km (about 2.5 miles) and 5 hours. The circuit passes through Avenida Sete, Praça Castro Alves (Castro Alves Square), with closure on Carlos Gomes Avenue.
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