Categorized | ARTICLES, Interviews

MACULELE- AN INTERVIEW WITH MESTRE POPO

Posted on 05 February 2008 by chan

maculele

MACULELE

Here is an interview between Paulino Aloisio Andrade (mestre Popo) and Maria Mutti, 1968. This interview was extracted from a book called MACULELE, which was released in 1977.
Mestre Popo passed away on the 16th of september 1969.

This interview was undertaken by the Folkloric Group Oxala, from Santo Amaro Da Purificacao.

Translated text by:
Chan Griffin.

POPO:
What I remember, Maculele arrived from the coast of africa by the slaves that arrived here.

OXALA:
Were you sir, a slave?

POPO:
Me? No. I was born by my mother who was a slave, but I was born free, I ran around these lands a lot. I was a slave to my mother and I helped her with work in the house right up until she passed away.

OXALA:
and with Maculele, when did you start sir?

POPO:
It was with a group of old black guys, “Preto Velhos” Male’s Slaves, who were freed. They did not have anymore slavery at that time. They would get together at night. I remember well, Joao Olea, Tia Jo and Ze do Brinquinho. The actual year I cannot really remember but it was after the slavery times, they were free. But who put the game on the streets was me.

OXALA:
How did you re-introduce Maculele into Bahia and afterwards the whole of Brazil?

POPO:
The old black guys had died a long time ago, from the group I was the only one left. This was because I started when I was very young. It was around 1944 when I was able to get together with my sons and neighbours to teach the ‘brinquedo’ (the game). Teaching these guys made me come to enjoy it, so I put a maculele academy in the santo amaro street. On the 2nd of febuary (the traditional day of maculele), every year Maculele goes to the streets of Santo Amaro and dance in front of the Igreja da purificacao (a church) in homage to the virgin saint who is everyone’s mother. After this, the rest was simple, people liked it and asked for the street maculele to keep running, even when they did not have training clothes, they would do it in their work clothes anyway.

OXALA:
Popo, is Maculele a dance or a fight?

POPO:
Are they separate? Maculele is a dance and a fight at the same time. Defense and attack mixed with black rhythm. (This is the definition Popo used a lot when talking about the rhythm of Maculele). We sing and dance in adoration to our Virgin Mother and enjoy also paying homage to princess Isabel, who freed the blacks from captivity.

OXALA:
In what way sir, do you think that the slaves of that era would practice Maculele as a fight?

POPO:
Hiding it in a dance. If a slave driver appeared at the slave quarters during the night, they would think that this was a way for the slaves to praise the gods from their land, and the african music they sung wasn’t able to be understood.

OXALA:
Did you sir, know what the african maculele songs were about? I ask because I have seen your group sing in african…

POPO:
They ask for power and agility in the dance, for when the days of their freedom arrives. Some I still know and teach to the guys, but others I forget. We here sing music from candomble and cabloco. We also have ‘musicas de chegada’ and ‘saida’ that we created. (music of arrival and leaving). The people applaud a lot and we want to thank them. Vava, my son, was the one who has made most of our groups music.

OXALA:
what are the original instruments used in the dance?

POPO:
Two or three atabaques, I dance with three, one for the ‘toque de ripique’ and two to help ‘dobrar’, an agogo a caxixi or a ganza. Now the music players need to be good. I have an atabaque made of tin carburet and cow skin that we made.

OXALA:
and the sticks? how are they made?

POPO:
The sticks are made of pieces of wood that the people use to attack or defend. They are made from wood chosen at night, sanded down and passed through a fire sometimes. Sometimes it isn’t even needed depending on the type of wood. You want to know which wood will work? Beriba, canzi, pitia, these are the best.

OXALA:
What are the exact measurements of the sticks?

POPO:
They are around 50-60cm. We always leave a knot on the wood to have a good grip.

maculele

OXALA:
POPO we have seen a presentation at the T.C.A and the program said it was Zezinho de Popo who put the machete into maculele purely for exhibition purposes. In your time, did Maculele use machetes?

POPO:
lady, the maculele that I learnt with the Males black people, was what I taught to my students that is now on the streets of Santo Amaro. Like you have seen many times.

OXALA:
But this other group said that it was your son who taught it to them. And your son is a continuation of your work.

POPO:
This is the deception of zezinho, ha! ha! ha!, if slaves had machetes in their hands to train maculele at that time they would have trained on the heads of their captors! ha! ha! ha! this is the deception of that boy, that is dancing over in Salvador for all of those rich people.

OXALA:
Sir do you have anything else you would like to say before we finish this interview? We would like to talk more with you sir, but I feel that you are tired and we will be able to maybe talk another day.

POPO:
Say nothing, I am wanting to see your group dance. I know at the time I did not see women dancing maculele, after seeing ‘finada agogo’ I haven’t seen anyone dance more beautiful than her.

The folkloric group OXALA that had met on the rua da linha, in front of his house, was the same place where he reunited for the first time, his sons to teach the dance. We danced like we never had to the best we could, and the old mestre popo who applauded, was full of emotion that affected everyone there. (The group OXALA de Santo Amaro, was the first group of maculele after the traditional group from Santo Amaro).

When Popo talked about what he was feeling at the time he said:

You have taken me back to 1944 or 46, I don’t remember the year exactly, but you made me remember Paulina e da finada agogo. But I am going to get my daughter Raimunda, who is a girl like you, to dance in this beautiful group. I also have Jaiminho my grandson who plays the instruments really well, he will give you everything you need to know for the orchestra. If my son Vava is ever around, I want you to meet him, you can trust him, he is a good guy. After a monkey bit me, my foot swelled up and I am now without a good leg.

Popo finished the interview playing with his woman, who dances maculele very well, and still lives in Santo Amaro da Purificacao, with their children: Vava de Popo, Raimunda and Vivi de Popo. (Zezinho for many years lived in Salvador).

Maria Mutti
16/12/1968
Santo Amaro-Bahia

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4 Comments For This Post

  1. Joaninha Says:

    Awesome, Chan! Thanks for translating/posting this. I’m going to put up a link to it in my maculele post. =D

  2. Cantor Says:

    Cool post!

  3. Danny Says:

    Please do the world a favor and post tons more! Your posts are oodles of fun to read :).

  4. Synthia Kearbey Says:

    Thanks so much for the enlightening write-up. I can’t wait to start reading a lot more from you. Are you available for hire to craft a guest post or two on my blog?

1 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Capoeira é Dança, Part 1: Maculelê « Mandingueira Says:

    [...] Click here to read a transcribed/translated interview with Mestre Popo, the ”Father of Maculelê”! [...]

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