Dona Olinda

People - São Gonçalo


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 Photo: Isabela Kassow/Diadorim Ideias
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Eighty-six-year-old Olinda Gama de Carvalho was awarded, in 2005, the title of "Vó Sambista" (Samba Grandmother), from the Associação da Velha Guarda das Escolas de Samba do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro Samba Schools' Senior Members Association). In 2009, the title became a lifetime achievement award.

President of the Porto da Pedra Old Guard (the senior members of a Samba School), since 2000, Dona Olinda (Mrs. Olinda) was introduced to samba when she was 4 years old, at Portela Samba School's court - but her samba school of choice was, for many years, Império Serrano. She attended the samba school rehearsals and activities until her jealous husband asked her to leave it, in 1948.

Forty years later, in 1984, Dona Olinda told her husband: "Next Carnival, I'll quit". Said and done: in 1985, she stopped parading for Império Serrano through the "Ala das Baianas" (Baianas Wing), of which she had been an active member for almost 10 years.

She moved to São Gonçalo in 1989. In 1995, she stopped rooting for Império Serrano for Porto da Pedra, when her love for the tiger (the samba school symbol) began. In 1996, she paraded in the Baianas Wing, and, in the following year, in the Old Guard Wing. To her, the Old Guard members are like a family. "I cherish them and they have the same affection for me", she says.

Her house is full of awards, titles, honorable mentions, a samba personality certificate and awards of recognition by Alerj, the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro, which are proof of her importance to the samba culture. In 2012, she was chosen as the theme (or plot) for the samba of Unidos do Porto Novo, another samba school from São Gonçalo. She has four children, 9 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren and her love for the samba is shared throughout the family.

Her granddaughter Léia Cristina is a marching samba dancer at Portela samba school; her grandson Roberto Vinicius is the second Mestre-sala (Master of Ceremonies) of Império Serrano and author of the theme song in tribute to his grandmother.

The title "Estrela Negra do Atletismo Carioca" (Dark Star of Rio de Janeiro State Sports), which she received as an athlete in 1944, when breaking national records in the 4×200 relay race and the 200 meter dash, does justice to the samba lyrics: "The grandma of samba is here / A bastion of Sapucaí".

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