Sementes D’África Cultural Association

Intangible Cultural Heritage - Barra do Piraí


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The "jongo" (a dance and musical genre of communities of African origin from southeast Brazil) tradition is passed down from generation to generation in Barra do Pirai. In Boa Sorte, Marina Adelino's family, Tia Marina (Aunt Marina), performs jongo sessions where people play the "caxambu" (big drum) and sing pontos de jongo (a traditional jongo song). In Boca do Mato, Eva Lucia de Moraes, Mestre Juquinha's niece and goddaughter (Master Juquinha), leads the rituals.

Associação Sementes da África. Foto:Isabela Kassow/Diadorim Ideias

In 2007, families founded the Sementes D'Africa Cultural Association from the need to organize the practice of jongo in Barra do Piraí. After this formalization, the group became a unit of the project Ponto de Cultura. The president is Cosme Medeiros, one of the leaders of the group Filhos de Angola (Children of Angola), and Eva Lucia is the vice president. Jongo has been part of Eva Lucia's family since 1814.

"Jongo originated in the slave plantations of coffee. With the abolition of slavery, many former slaves started working for the railway companies and then populated the region. Due to its marginalization, jongo sessions were only performed on special occasions. At weddings, we would perform at the patio or in the backyard. When we played the drums the staff thought it was some sort of witchcraft. At weddings, we would dance to disguise the jongo sessions that happened in the backyard" explains Eva.

Sementes d' África Cultural Association. Photo:Isabela Kassow

She teaches that the two small drums called "candongueiros" and "caxambu", the major drum, set the rhythm of the sessions. It is also well marked by "mucoco", a stick used to beat the caxambu. Additionally, she explains that in order to tune the drums one needs to place the instruments with the leather part facing a bonfire - "You have to spread "cachaça" on the leather surface". Eva's  jongo groups sing lyrics like: "Preto também chora/ Preto também ri/ 20 de novembro/ É o dia de Zumbi" (The Black also cry / The Black laugh too / on November 20th / is Zumbi's day") They visit schools and historical farms to sing, dance and show how to tune the drums in bonfire.

Nowadays, Tia Marina's jongo group is no longer a member of the Association, but their descendants promote a monthly session on May 13th, on Preto Velho's day (Umbanda divinity), in addition to participating in the city celebration for the Black Awareness Day.

General Information

Address: Pedro Lara Street 10, Room 18, Downtown, Barra do Piraí
Phone: (+55 24) 2443-1397 / (24) 99253-2591 - Eva

Secretaria de Cultura do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Petrobras

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