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By C. Sterling

This article explores how Afro-Brazilians outline their Africanness via Candomblé and Quilombo versions, and build paradigms of blackness with impacts from US-based views, throughout the vectors of public rituals, carnival, drama, poetry, and hip hop.

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Extra resources for African Roots, Brazilian Rites: Cultural and National Identity in Brazil

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43 dislocation, dismemberment, and disaffiliations. It is a desire for ownership of oneself, one’s voice, one’s social and political context, through the articulation of a cultural paradigm that is centered on an African source narrative. Rootedness here contravenes Glissant’s framework, for it does not signify a single, strangling root, aiming to engulf other ideological terrains, but a single root developing from the rhizomatic strands to fortify itself and guard against predatory forces. It is indeed a constructed process, but an entirely organic response, when commonalities and compatibilities in underlying belief structures and a shared social structure of negation adjoin disjunctively due to their oppositional dynamics.

Was it to solidify ancestral bonds? Or was it a reconciliatory gesture, given Oyo’s participation in the slave trade? While the act may have had little or infinite signification in Oyo, in Bahia it placed Mãe Senhora as the premier Mãe de Santo and affirmed the Nagô model as the truly ascendant system, sanctioned by ancient authority. W H E R E I S A F R I C A I N T H E N AT I O N? 35 Verger also aided the return of Mãe Senhora’s son, Deoscórdes dos Santos (Mestre Didi), who benefited from this reforged alliance.

As the guardian of the Ketu people, his ascendancy can easily be explained by the number of Ketus sold in the transatlantic trade. Yet Ochossi is also the orisa of justice, and his symbol is the bow and arrow. In dance, his devotees join the tips of their fingers to form a triangular arch, patterned after this bow and arrow. When accessed, it is said that he shoots straight to the heart of any matter to correct wrongs and to guarantee his supplicants victory over all malfeasance. Made manifest in the everyday reality of Afro-Brazilians today, the Yoruba nomenclature Araketu [the people of Ketu] is the name given to the popular carnival bloco afro dedicated to Ochossi.

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