Pernambuco's Carnaval reveler

​"Pernambuco has ten letters, but none is repeated. This illustrates the cultural diversity of the people of Pernambuco."

To support Carnival traditions and get even closer to the popular culture of Pernambuco, Jeep joins in the festivities with the Ciclo Carnavalesco Project

March 10, 2020 - One cannot talk about Carnival without thinking about the Brazilian state of Pernambuco. Or more specifically, its capital, Recife, where O Galo da Madrugada, takes place, that group that was officially recognized by the Guinness Book as the largest on the planet, remember? Or, still, in Olinda, where there is music that generates crowds, with giant puppets and revelers with costumes for all tastes, going up and down the streets. And what about the frevo? Ah! This needs no introduction, as it’s by far the rhythm that most characterizes the state's carnival.

Although the carnival celebrations are more intense in the Metropolitan Region of Recife, the largest popular party in the world also reveals its charms and carries centuries-old traditions in other regions of the state. In Goiana, in the Zona da Mata Norte, for example, the culture is alive and the city bustles for four days, with flawless celebrations that are nothing to sneeze at.

There are more than 90 carnival groups, with rhythms, dances and expressions such as Caboclinho, Maracatu – Baque Solto and Baque Virado – and Cavalo Marinho. One of these expressions, however, is quite peculiar: the “Nação Africana Pretinha do Congo de Carne de Vaca” (Black African Nation of the beef Congo). Unique, this demonstration is exclusive to the city of Goiana and, this year, celebrates its 90 years in October.

And nothing is more natural for Jeep, whose Automotive Plant has been in Goiana for almost five years, than to get involved and support this cultural movement. For this reason and for the second year in a row, FCA is enjoying the Pernambuco festivities with the “Ciclo Carnavalesco” project.

To celebrate the anniversary of the Pretinha do Congo and help rescue the tradition of this cultural manifestation, the Ciclo Carnavalesco will develop the project "2020 - 90 Years of foundation - Qualification and Reinvention of a celebration". In addition, it will also support the giant O Galo da Madrugada with special workshops.

For FCA's Director of Corporate Communication and Sustainability for Latin America, Fernão Silveira, with this project, Jeep intends to insert itself into the cultural, economic and social fabric of the state's Mata Norte, offering the means for popular culture and traditions to stay alive. “The project is very much based on what FCA believes: to be aware of the communities in which we operate, understand what is relevant to them and make them the protagonists. We want to be inserted in a way that makes sense and, considering that Goiana is the national capital of the caboclinhos, it makes a lot of sense for us to invest in the Pernambuco culture”, he explains.

"It is the continuation of Pernambuco’s culture and the history of my family."

Caboclinho, Cavalo Marinho, Maracatu de Baque Solto or Baque Virado. The rhythms, dances and events that take place in the Zona da Mata of Pernambuco are innumerable. In the face of the various cultural expressions, however, one specifically draws attention for its uniqueness: “Black African Nation of Congo de Carne de Vaca”. Exclusive to the municipality of Goiana, more than just a name, the association illustrates de revelry which this year turns 90.

According to the history, the Pretinha do Congo appeared to show that the lands of Goiás, whose population used to be mostly indigenous, had blacks as well. Of African origin, the cultural manifestation was originally, as the name reveals, formed by young black girls. For about 70 years, the association was headed by Dona Carminha, daughter of the founder – Antônio Manoel dos Santos. Today, six years after her death, her granddaughter Rafaela Ribeiro, 27, together with her mother, Dona Iracema, are at the head of the block, which has 45 people.

Pretinhas do Congo in presentation at Casa da Cultura, in Goiana (PE, Brazil)Exclusive to the Pernambuco city of Goiana, the Pretinhas do Congo celebrates its 90th anniversary at the end of this year.

Given the importance of Pretinha do Congo for the history of the Pernambuco culture, Jeep started, this year, the project “90 years of foundation - Qualification and Reinvention of a celebration”. The main objective of the project is to not let a secular tradition such as this one, passed down from generation to generation, turn into folklore.

For Rafaela, the initiative will give a new impetus to the group amid so many difficulties encountered along the way to put the block onto the streets. “It was very difficult because of financial issues. But this project will revive our association. If my grandmother were alive, she would be very happy”, she says, moved.

Cultural consultant Osmar Barbalho has been working side by side with Pretinhas and says that there is already a preparation for them to start moving through the bureaucracy and leave them even more strengthened. “We are going to organize our tax issues, register a new board and teach the ropes so they can access existing public policies. This will mean their perpetuation”.

The project is already bearing fruit. This is because, this year, Pretinha do Congo is already scheduled to take place in Recife, capital of Pernambuco, which hadn’t happened before. “With our status and documents delayed, we couldn't even perform in other places. We were restricted to just Goiana”, explains Rafaela.

Pretinhas do Congo performing in Ponta de Pedra.The uniforms of the association will be remodeled completely through the project.

In addition to helping solve bureaucratic issues so that they have access to public policies, the project will also give a new look to the associations, with new costumes, while searching for more information, about its tradition and lyrics, passed on orally and through songs for almost a century. “There are a lot of songs we don't really remember,” explains Rafaela, calculating that there must be more than 50 songs created by Pretinhas do Congo. “It will be great to rescue all the songs. It will be the perpetuation of the Pernambuco culture and the history of my family”, she celebrates.

A new generation of pipers

Wildemir do Nascimento Silva was born in Goiana, Mata Norte de Pernambuco, in 1989. That same year and in that same city, his father founded Agremiação Caboclinho Tupynambá. The two grew up together, and today, at the age of 30, Wildemir remembers that his childhood was a mix of colors and sparkles from the costumes, rehearsals and shows of the carnival group. One aspect, however, called his attention since he was a child: the sound. More specifically the pipe. “The music made by this instrument is beautiful. I saw the pipers play and, since I was a child, I always wanted to learn how to play it”, he recalls.

The pipe is the main musical character in the Baques - as the “Orchestras” of the cultural manifestations Caboclinhos and Tribo de Índios are called. In Wildemir's words, the pipe is the “heart” of the performance. "If it didn't exist, it would be like being in a symphony orchestra without violins." The dream of learning to play the instrument began to come true in 2018, when he was 28 years old and participated in a workshop held by Jeep for those who are part of a Caboclinho or Tribo de Índios.

Pipe Workshop conducted by Jeep in 2018.Wildemir (in a gray cap and green t-shirt) with other students during the Pipe workshop held in 2018.

Official banner of the Caboclinho Tupynambá associationWildemir dreams of becoming the official piper of his association and, for that, he has the support of Jeep

Among the rhythms that Wildemir learned are the Tesoura (or Guerra), Perré, Macumba do Índio and Toque do Baião. Since then, for those who dreamed of playing the pipe but could only be part of the dance group in the performances, things have changed quite a bit. “After participating in the workshop, I am now responsible for all the rehearsals. Now, I’m really doing what I like”, he says. And the learning doesn't stop there. This year, Wildemir will participate in the second workshop offered by Jeep. "This time, in the advanced module", he says proudly.

This year's workshop is an offshoot of the one held by Jeep in 2018, and in addition to the advanced module, it will also offer one for beginners. In all, 30 students will be awarded. For the classes, they receive a pipe made of PVC and, at the end, a certificate for their participation. Classes will start in April and continue until June. In August they resume classes and finish in November.

Cultural consultant, Osmar Barbalho says that Goiana is a city where the culture of caboclinhos and, consequently, the pipe has always been very alive, but there was no teaching to new pipers, which raised the risk that the event would end up lost. “That’s why this workshop is fundamental: it is the maintenance of the pipers' tradition and the popular culture of Pernambuco and Goiana”, he explains.

Of the 22 people who participated in the workshop held in 2018, Osmar says that three have already played at last year's carnival in the associations of which they are part of. And if it depends on willpower and animation, Wildemir will be next. “I am very anxious to further expand the rhythms that I already know. This time I will fulfill my dream of becoming the official piper of my club”, he says.

“Banners are true works of art”

Leão da Fortaleza banner during the Banner workshop conducted by JeepBetween needles, threads, velvet and sequins, the new banner of Leão da Fortaleza was being embroidered during the Workshop held in 2018.

In its almost 40 years of existence, the Maracatu de Baque Solto Leão da Fortaleza, of Goiana, had stopped having, for close to ten years, the beautiful embroidery over velvety fabric on its banner–which is like a flag and represents the identity of each group. “Because of the financial difficulty, we used products that were cheap and could be glued. But it was fragile and the banner only lasted one carnival”, says the group's president, Erivaldo Francisco de Oliveira, known as Peu do Maracatu.

The life of the association, however, has changed since 2018, when Leão da Fortaleza was part of the first Banner Workshop held by Jeep. For six months, Peu and 14 others were part of the workshop given by the craftsman from Pernambuco and Master of Embroidery, Manoelzinho Salustiano.

Together, they made a “respectful” banner “, as Peu jokes, and presented in last year's carnival. “For the first time, our flag was embroidered with a number 8 sequin. It was a dream for us and it strengthened our association even more”, he celebrates.

The banner used last year will be the same for this year's carnival. "It’s firm and strong", confirms Peu, who will participate in the second year of the Banner Workshop promoted by Jeep. This time as coordinator, next to master Manoelzinho. "The time has come to help other associations to have the dream of a new banner come true", he says.

A big news for this year is that the carnival groups that participated in the Banner Workshops in 2018 will parade their banners in the block O Galo da Madrugada, which takes place on the Saturday of Zé Pereira, as the first day of the revelry is called.

In all, 14 associations from the cities of Goiana, Itapissuma, Itambé, Itaquitinga, Aliança, Buenos Aires and Tracunhaém will participate in the workshop this year. The making of the banners will start after the carnival and will last about four months. “It’s a slow process because it needs to be perfect. Banners are true works of art. Only those who are club members know its importance” says Master Manoelzinho.

In addition to dedication, the work must have durable materials, such as thread, nylon and sequin. “The banner is all embroidered, there is no glue applied”, he guarantees. Manoelzinho explains that the objective of the workshop is to teach members how to cut, create the design and embroider, or, in his words, “teach them how to fish, and not just handing the fish”. And no adding on whatever you want! For him, popular culture must have the soul of each group. "They have to have freedom because carnival is freedom".

For Mestre dos Bordados, this is the main objective of the workshop: to provide the necessary conditions for carnival groups to stay alive. “It’s about offering the ability to create in order for the associations to live on for many, many years”, he says.

Words: Isabela Alves

Pictures: Marketing

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