Closing Remarks for the Capoeira Festival 2013 presented by BENJAMIN FRANCISCO MUNIZ (Beijoca) in memory of Grão Mestre Camisa Roxa
“A FIGHTING BAHIANO WHO NEVER BACKS DOWN”
So describes EDVALDO CARNEIRO E SILVA - CAMISA ROXA. Wise, cautious (he personified the words of the departed MESTRE BIMBA – “When a capoeirista sleeps one eye must always stay open, watching everything around him), a man who kept his promise (“a man of his word”), valiant, courageous, in short, a good person, a distinguished capoeirista who dignified what it means to be a capoeirista and did so much for the art of capoeira around the world.
We met each other in the 1960s, in the house of BIRA (ACÓRDEON), in Brotas, where we would get together to play capoeira and imagine impossible dreams for that time (taking the world by storm through Afro-Brazilian culture and capoeira). One day he appeared there, with his cautious attitude and impressive ability to play capoeira: he brought together intelligence, technique, power, resistance, speed, flexibility, determination and courage. He looked like a warrior, a victor. A native of Jacobina/Ba, he never denied his origin, he comported himself like a STRONG SERTANEJO (someone from the countryside). Most impressive was that despite his medium build, his movements projected the body of a much larger person. His nickname, given to him by MESTRE BIMBA - “CAMISA ROXA” (“Purple Shirt”) - was already known in capoeira rodas. Along with Bira and other friends from capoeira and the university we founded the folkloric group, GRUPO FOLCLÓRICO DA BAHIA. We did many shows and performances in Salvador, São Paulo e Rio de Janeiro, including “VEM CAMARÁ e QUEM VEM LÁ ? VEM CAMARÁ 67” (“COME COMRADE” and WHO COMES HERE? COME COMRADE 67”) that significantly contributed to the vigorous resurgence of capoeira in Rio de Janeiro.
Bira took a break from artistic activity in March of 1967 (fortunately for only a short time as he would go on to spend more than thirty years in the United States, building a impressive capoeira group with an international presence). We created a new troupe along with some friends who were involved with the previous group: Gugu Muniz, Fernando Pallos, Josevaldo Lima de Jesus (Saci), Edmundo Dante (Cascavel), Onias Camardelli and Mãe Zefa (who at the time was 100 years old), which came to be known as the OLODUM Folkloric Group. Our dream of giving Afro-Brazilian music and dance, and most importantly capoeira, a global presence started to take shape during this new era of international festivals. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recognized the importance of the Group’s cultural activity and supported trips to the United States, Argentina (Salta and Buenos Aires), Ecuador, Peru and Guyana where we won various prizes.
In 1972, with a heavy heart, I had to step back from the artistic life. However, CAMISA ROXA continued with his indomitable resolve to realize his dream of spreading his work to Europe. He achieved much more, pushing his horizons all the way to Asia. Today, AFRO-BRAZILIAN culture and principally CAPOEIRA, is known and loved around the world. The global recognition of its value is thanks in large part to CAMISA ROXA.
More recently, I reunited with CAMISA ROXA here in Bahia. I had the great pleasure of being with him, along with Fernando Pallos, Onias Camardelli, Josevaldo Lima de Jesus (Saci) and all our friends from the time of OLODUM, in a show of BEIJA & BANDA. We had a number of conversations about the Performing Arts in Europe and how to bring his show, BRASIL TROPICAL, to Brazilian theatres. There was also great interest in reviving the historic importance of GRUPO FOLCLÓRICO DA BAHIA and OLODUM: to remember all their victories and difficulties and to reveal the extent of their influence in bringing AFRO-BRAZILIAN culture, and especial CAPOEIRA, to the height of national and international interest. The most important objective would be to inspire youth to believe that their dreams can come true.
ANOTHER VALIENT FRIEND HAS LEFT US – BUT TAKE COMFORT, A MAN DIES AND A LEGEND ARISES. MOST IMPORTANTLY, DREAMS, EVEN THOSE THAT APPEAR IMPOSSIBLE, CAN COME TRUE. LIVE YOUR DREAMS AND WHEN THEY COME TRUE, THEIR BENEFITS WILL BE MANY, THEIR VALUE INCOMEASURABLE.
WE MISS YOU FRIEND,
FRANCISCO BENJAMIN MUNIZ
BEIJOCA - APRIL/ 2013