Bahia has soul (and, yes, lots of it!). Located in the northeastern part of Brazil, it’s known as the birthplace of capoeira, a Brazilian form of martial arts, and samba, an Afro-Brazilian musical genre and dance, and has a very clear connection to Africa via religious practices like the Yoruba-derived Candomblé, music, dance and food, to name a few.
Festival Afro-Bahia, June 8-12, is bringing Afro-Brazilian culture and celebration to Washington, DC. The festival’s events include Afro-Brazilian dance, capoeira and drumming workshops; Brazilian food and drink tastings; samba classes for children; and a concert by all-female drumming group Batala Washington, featuring Batala founder Giba Goncalves and Bahian samba reggae superstar Tonho Materia.
“Festival Afro-Bahia is an opportunity to learn about the unique cultural contributions that our African ancestors have allowed us to experience through the music, food and dance of northern Brazil,” said Festival Afro-Bahia founder and native of Bahia Sonia Pessoa in a press statement. “It is a learning opportunity for people of the District of Columbia.”
AintILatina.com spoke with Pessoa about why she started Festival Afro-Bahia four years ago and the importance of celebrating Bahia’s African roots:
“I hope people get from the festival an understanding of the whole culture of Brazil, an awareness of the African culture in general; how similar and yet different we are. When we talk about the whole culture and arts, Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, we pretty much have the same religions like Candomblé. They may be expressed in different ways, the music may be sung in a different way, the dance may be a little bit different, but the essence is the same. We all have drummers, Africa has djembe; in Bahia, we use atabake, and in Cuba we use conga. It’s just bringing the similarities, so people know we all come from the same place. As humans, we do need arts and culture. This is a very important aspect in any person’s life. I want people to know about the beautiful culture of Bahia, Brazil.”