Africa: Kenya Welcomes a Taste of Afro-Brazilian Culture Capoeira Angola Festival
Since the early 90s interest in the Afro-Brazilian martial art, Capoeira Angola grew worldwide prompting many Brazilian instructors, Mestres, to move to North America and Europe to shepherd the growth and to maintain its authenticity which includes the history of enslaved Africans, religious practices, and peaceful conflict resolution through movement. In 2015, Contra-Mestre Salim Rollins founded Capoeira Angola Center Kenya (CACK) with the vision of reconnecting Grand Mestre João Grande with Africa.
CACK and Internationality, a company which encourages young people of color to travel beyond tourism, launched the inaugural Mandinga Ancestral: Capoeira Angola and African Arts Festival on 19 November 2017. Over the course of seven days, attendees from Egypt, Japan, Angola, Colombia, Germany, the United States and Kenya visited Nairobi, Naivasha, and Nakuru. The festival’s biggest draw was the series of Capoeira Angola workshops lead by Mestre João Grande. Participants also enjoyed:
•Closing Roda at the Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi
•Samba and Axe dance classes as well as live musical performance by Brazilian artist Cissa Paz with Kenyan percussionist Wakake Oti;
•A safari in Nakuru National Park;
•Daily yoga or tai chi;
•A presentation on curative properties of local plants and trees;
•A tour of Kuona Trust artist collective; and
•Meals at Brazilian and Ethiopian restaurants.
Kenyan businesses including HealthyU; Kili Natural; La Maison Royale Hotel in Nairobi; Peppercorn Holiday Resort in Naivasha; Pampa Churrascaria; Abyssinia restaurant; Mama Zaza’s; and the Kenya National Theatre discounts and in-kind donations, post-event surveys revealed attendees sense of appreciation for the festival delivering an experience above and beyond their expectations. Furthermore, through the organizers’ international sponsorship efforts, five youths from the Kibera and Ngara slums in Nairobi participated for free in the entire festival giving them exposure to different parts of Kenya and African diasporic culture. An additional 40 children from a Nairobi orphanage, who train capoeira with the Kenyan based NGO Moving Cultures, joined the final workshop and roda at the National Theatre for free.
I was able to participate in seeing Capoeira Angola in practice in Africa. In particular, the lineage of Capoeira Angola coming directly from Mestre João Grande through Contra-Mestre Salim. I’m looking forward to Mandinga Ancestral in the future, as well as the growth of Capoeira Angola [in Africa].
– Ramal Lamar, San Francisco, United States
This was my first time in Kenya. We sang a lot. We learned new movements, I learned the new one about the spider and Mestre was happy. It was as it’s supposed to be—the best.
– João Reis, Luanda, Angola
My experience was inspiring—having people from all around the world sharing this culture of capoeira. It was something different, something new. I was able to learn from Mestre and it’s such a pleasure and honor for me. I never knew that one day I’d be able to do it. I feel like I’ve learned for three years being with Mestre for six days.
-Roger Ngaiara, Kibera slum, Kenya
As one of the first international Capoeira Angola festivals in Africa, Mandinga Ancestral established a benchmark for future events—contributing to increased interest in capoeira and cultural tourism in Africa. With support from the local and international capoeira community through direct donations or purchase of Mandinga Ancestral apparel on the website, CACK will continue to offer free workshops for youth in Nairobi slums and open level twice weekly adult classes in Kilieshwa for. Ksh 1500.
About Capoeira Angola Center Kenya
Founded by Contra Mestre Salim Rollins in 2015 CACK focuses its efforts on teaching free classes to youth living in Nairobi’s slums. CACK also offers adult classes on Tuesday and Thursday in Kileleshwa, Nairobi at Ksh 1500 per class or monthly passes for Ksh 10,000.