Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Innovation and Reproduction in Black Cultures and Societies: A Comparative Dialogue and Lessons for the Future

"To be Black or to be African?": Dillemas and Paradoxes in Orisha Religion in Brazil

Robson R. Cruz (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro/Cambridge University)


At the beginning of August in Rio de Janeiro, a large body of academics gathered at the 9th Orisha World Congress which gathered priests and academics from Brazil and abroad in activities related to an African Traditional Religion and its influence that has a practical worldwide range because of Africans in Diaspora and those in Americas and also from the modern process of immigration of peoples.

Brazil has its version of this tradition in the cult called Candomble which as well as other cultural traits attributed to African importation, like Samba(1)(a typical Brazilian drum band rhythm and dance style), Capoeira(2) (A Brazilian fight like dance style), and Feijoada(3) (a dish made of beans and pork soup, rice and fried manioc flour-farofa). These are considered national symbols and heritage of Brazilians from all shades of color. However, during the above mentioned Congress some of these values considered to be 100% Brazilian meaning a 100% mestizo and are proudly Brazilian, were challenged by other researchers from Nigeria and the USA. These challenges were rooted in deep traditional and originality of Yoruba nationality bringing about a serious debate on racial-ethnic (black) mark and in consequences has made significant impact on the minds of some Brazilians. This paper is a reconstruction of that debate (dilemmas and paradoxes) encountered at the last 9th Orisha World Congress in Rio de Janeiro.

1 A typical Brazilian drum band rhythm and dance style.

2 A Brazilian fightlike dance style.

3 A dish made of beans and pork soup, rice and fried manioc flour (farofa).

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-09-05