Matter of Extreme Importance
We reprint this bizarre and offensive story from London’s Guardian Unlimited: Observer about the unfortunate murder of a young boy that experts are attempting to link to Yoruba religion. This incident reminds us of the case in Matamoros, Mexico from the late 1980s when the Lukumí religion was blamed for the activities of a psychotic drug dealer and murderer. The current matter is further complicated and becomes even more offensive when the scholar that was consulted for “expert” testimony on African religion appears not to be an expert on the Yoruba but an “Africanist.” To make matters worse, adding offense to offense, a Yoruba, Temi Olusanya, asserts that this murder was the work of “African religion!”

Martin Bright and Paul Harris
Observer

A young boy whose mutilated torso was discovered floating in the River Thames last September was the victim of a gruesome West African ‘religious’ sacrifice intended to bring good luck, and was trafficked into the country expressly for the killing.

Genetic tests on the boy – who was found with his head and limbs removed and wearing only a pair of orange shorts – point to a West African origin, probably Nigeria or a nearby country such as Togo or Benin.

Further analysis of stomach contents and bone chemistry show the child, whom police have named Adam, could not have been brought up in London. Detectives are now working on the horrifying theory that he was bought as a child slave in West Africa and smuggled to Britain solely to be killed.

Experts on African religion consulted by Scotland Yard believe Adam may have been sacrificed to one of the 400 ‘Orisha’ or ancestor gods of the Yoruba people, Nigeria’s second-largest ethnic group. Oshun, a Yoruba river goddess is associated with orange, the colour of the shorts, which were placed on Adam’s body 24 hours after he was killed as a bizarre addition to the ritual. The body was then stored for a further 24 hours before being offered to the Thames.

The cultural clues fit neatly with the forensics as the Yoruba are found in Benin, Togo and Ghana as well as Nigeria. Thousands of Yoruba slaves were also taken to the Caribbean, where elements of their religion formed the basis of voodoo rituals.

A close examination of the cuts where the head and limbs were sliced from the body shows that they were carried out by an expert using extremely sharp knives specially prepared for the purpose. In a horrific operation reminiscent of animal sacrifice, the flesh around the limbs and neck was first cut down to the bones, which were then slashed with a single blow from an implement much like a butcher’s meat cleaver. Adam would have been stretched out horizontally or upside down during the sacrifice and kept in position while the blood was drained from the body.

Officers working on the case believe that the level of expertise involved could show the perpetrators imported a magician or priest to carry out the ritual. They also believe the amputated body parts will have been kept as powerful magical trophies.

Richard Hoskins, a lecturer in the Study of Religions at Bath Spa University, who has studied ritual killings across Africa, said: ‘This looks like a deviant variety of a West African religion. Someone would have done it to gain power. But the vast majority of Africans would find this abhorrent.’

In an unprecedented missing-person investigation, the police have even tracked down the origins of the orange shorts, which were made exclusively in China for German Woolworth stores. Police believe Adam may have arrived in England from Germany, a common route for people traffickers.

Police are now awaiting final results of the forensic tests, which should identify a specific country or ethnic group, before moving their investigation to Africa. Scotland Yard officers working on the case then plan to launch appeals to the parents of missing children in Adam’s country of origin.

Commander Andy Baker of the Metropolitan Police, who is heading the investigation said: ‘All we have is the trunk of a little boy and a very small pair of shorts. But when the work on the forensics identifies his home, we will go to that country and make direct contact with the government involved.’

Investigators have now discounted the theory that Adam was the victim of a so-called muti killing, where body parts are taken to be used in medicine. It is a practice widespread in areas of South Africa, and detectives travelled to Johannesburg to speak to experts. But all the evidence is now pointing to West Africa as holding the answers to the riddle of Adam’s slaughter. It now seems clear it was not body parts his killers were after.

Expert forensic analysis of mitochondrial DNA – the first time such a test has been used in a criminal investigation – shows that Adam was almost certainly West African. Other gruesome evidence is the fact that Adam’s genitals were left on his body. In muti murders the genitals are seen as powerful medicine; not so in West Africa where the ‘luck’ of an individual is believed to lie in the blood. Adam’s blood was drained from his body after he was killed, but his genitals were undamaged. A further clue lies in the fact that Adam, who was between four and seven years old, was also circumcised. In southern Africa circumcision happens as a passage to adulthood. In West Africa it occurs shortly after birth.

The case has prompted a continent-wide alert that African ritual killings have been imported to Europe. Last Monday an international conference was held in the Dutch city of The Hague to discuss the phenomenon, and several countries’ police forces are investigating deaths involving mutilations. Even Police believe that rich West Africans imported Adam from West Africa, probably using a specialist witch doctor for the task. The witch doctor would have procured the boy in West Africa, perhaps paying a fee to his family, a fee who may have expected him to be put to work abroad. He would then have been ‘trafficked’ to Europe.

Adam was well-treated before he was killed.. Traces of a common over-the-counter cough medicine were found in his stomach, indicating someone wanted him in good health for the day of his execution.

Could it happen again? Whatever business Adam’s killers wanted to bless has already started. It is unlikely his killers will strike again. ‘If another one happens then it is likely to be a different group of people involved. The ones who killed Adam are already satisfied with what they have done,’ said Dr Hendrik Scholtz, an expert at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand.

Temi Olusanya, the Nigerian vice-chair of the African Caribbean Development Association said Adam’s murder had deeply shocked the West African community. ‘This is a crime that cannot be tolerated in African religions. Murder is murder and we should work together to find the people who did this,’ he said.

Original article

Statement re. Observer Article by Martin Bright and Paul Harris 2nd June 2002

Dr Richard Hoskins

It has come to my attention that part of the article which appeared in The Observer on June 2nd has caused offence to some practitioners of Yoruba and Yoruba-derived religions, and specifically those connected with Oshun.

I wish to make clear that I am not responsible for the contents of the article by these journalists, and the piece was not written by me.

The journalists in question appear not to have been present at the Europol conference in The Hague. During my presentation to that conference I presented a number of possibilities in connection with the case. I stressed that:

  1. these were only possibilities
  2. there were other possibilities, including non-ritualistic motives
  3. in every case, were they proved to indeed be right, they would be deviations
  4. the press must NOT go away and report that I think ‘such and such’ is the deity invoked
  5. ritual killing is no more a part of African traditional beliefs than Satanism is a part of Christianity
  6. 99.9% Africans would utterly abhor the killing of Adam
  7. but a terrible murder has been committed with what appear to be ritualistic elements

Following my presentation, the police commented that my obvious passion for Africa really came through. I have no intention in causing offence to any section of a people I love and know well.

In the briefings I subsequently gave I summarised my talk. Martin Bright was one of many who contacted me for such a briefing.

Martin Bright assured me that he would call me before going to print to show me the contents of the article. This he did not do. Had he of done so I would have immediately requested him to remove, or substantially change, the references to Oshun, which were taken out of context and distorted. Most of the rest of the article seemed to me to have been fine.

It may, nevertheless, be of interest to those who have been asking that none of the possibilities raised by me originated with me. All have been first suggested by world-wide specialists in the field, and have been debated between me and them over several months. I do repeat that were any of the suggestions that I mentioned indeed proved to be correct they would be deviations, and in no way a part of the traditional beliefs of the practitioners. Were Oshun used in a sacrifice of this nature it would be a complete distortion of her true nature (especially as lover of children – which I mentioned in The Hague). But just because something is a deviation does not mean it didn’t happen. We must be balanced about this.

Finally, and more importantly than anything, a horrific murder has been committed. This is not the time to be side-tracked from finding the perpetrators of Adam’s killing. If the media attention has caused any offence, then I urge those people to come forward and help give their expertise to help the police in this investigation. I am not interested in academic point-scoring: I am only concerned that we catch Adam’s killers. I am still convinced that the killers of Adam can be found if we all pull together. I urge that we all do this for Adam, and for the good name of Africa.

Dr Richard Hoskins
11 June 2002
All further correspondence in this matter should be referred to Kate Campbell at Scotland Yard press office: 020 7230 1750.

Recent Update from the BBC

From Lydia Cabrera’s “El Monte,” the chapter titled “La Ceiba-Sus leyendas. Culto. Su importancia en la Magia y en la superstición del pueblo cubano. Los malos ojos. Los mayomberos y la ceiba. Jueves, Viernes Santo y Sábado de Gloria. El árbol sagrado por excelencia.”

The article is in Spanish.

View the article.

From Brazil’s Correio da Bahia
Três terreiros de candomblés baianos têm importância reconhecida pela Fundação Palmares
Regina Bochicchio
redacao@correiodabahia.com.br

Mais três terreiros de candomblé baianos foram reconhecidos pela Fundação Cultural Palmares (FCP), ligado ao Ministério da Cultura, como territórios culturais afro-brasileiros. Os terreiros Eran Ope Oluwa (Cachoeira), Zogodo Bogum Male Rundo (Engenho Velho da Federação) e o Maioralage, mais conhecido como terreiro de Olga de Alaketu, receberam o título no último dia 25 de março. Outros terreiros da capital baiana já haviam sido intitulados, como é o caso dos terreiros de Gantois, Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá e Bate-Folha. O reconhecimento público como território cultural tem por objetivo preservar a cultura negra brasileira.

O coordenador geral do Patrimônio Histórico e Cultural da Fundação Palmares (Brasília), Jônatas Nunes Barreto, explicou que o principal pré-requisito para o reconhecimento de sítios, localidades ou monumentos é o levantamento da história, através de pesquisas sistematizadas e que comprovem que o requerente tenha contribuído ou contribua para a preservação da memória da população afro-brasileira. Além disso, é necessário um pedido oficial do responsável; histórico do bem; documentações necessárias; levantamento topográfico; publicação no diário oficial; e, por fim, notificação ao Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico (Iphan). Com todas essas etapas cumpridas, a localidade é reconhecida pela Fundação Palmares como território cultural afro-brasileiro.

Preservação – O reconhecimento é um dos passos para que o estado execute ações visando a restauração e a preservação desses sítios, além da possibilidade de entrar com abertura de processo de tombamento junto ao Instituto de Patrimônico Histórico e Artístico Nacional (Iphan). Para muitos terreiros, o reconhecimento da Fundação Cultural Palmares é o primeiro passo para o recebimento de recursos e apoio para outros investimentos.

“Nosso interesse é na área de projetos sociais e culturais para a comunidade daqui. Agora, precisamos do tombamento que é concedido pelo Iphan”, disse Ekede Nirinha, filha de Olga de Alaketo. Ela reclamou da falta de incentivos e reconhecimento público, visto que “o terreiro é conhecido mais internacionalmente do que aqui dentro”. Há dois anos o terreiro enviou a documentação à FCP. Mas somente agora foi dado o reconhecimento.

Os candomblés foram um dos principais responsáveis pela manutenção da cultura negra na Bahia. Nos terreiros perpetuou-se, além da religiosidade, a música, a culinária e as danças trazidas pelos escravos negros. Durante o período que durou a escravidão no Brasil, os negros eram proibidos de praticarem sua religião. Por isso, os orixás, deuses do candomblé, foram associados aos santos católicos, de maneira a permitir seu culto. Com isso, surgiu o sincretismo religioso, que faz com que as festas católicas e os ritos do candomblé convivam, como ocorre, por exemplo, na festa do Nosso Senhor do Bonfim.

Os procedimentos para requerer reconhecimeno valem para todo o território nacional, já que a Fundação Cultural Palmares, com sede em Brasília, é um órgão vinculado ao Ministério da Cultura. Em Goiás, por exemplo, a Igreja Nossa Senhora de Rosário dos Pretos (Pirenópolis) é reconhecida. Na década de 40, ocorreu a demolição da igreja. Durante escavações para a passagem de cabos de telefonia, foram encontradas ossadas dos túmulos sob o local onde antes ficava o altar. O Iphan embargou a obra e a FCP reconheceu o local como território cultural para estudos arqueológicos.

From Brazil’s Correio da Bahia
Efeito civil
Tatiany Carvalho
redacao@correiodabahia.com.br

Os terreiros de candomblé já estão legalmente autorizados a efetivar o casamento na religião afro com efeito civil. O sonho de mulheres e homens iniciados na religião africana de se casarem segundo os trâmites da Justiça, de papel passado, deverá ser concretizado a partir de julho. O projeto encaminhado pelo presidente da Federação Nacional dos Cultos Afro-Brasileiro (Fenacab), Aristides Mascarenhas, a Brasília não requereu nem mesmo a apreciação do Congresso Nacional, já que a Constituição Brasileira prevê liberdade de expressão religiosa.

Uma vez feito o chamado “enquadramento da Constituição”, a próxima etapa do trâmite legal, que deve ocorrer em junho, é a realização do curso preparatório para os ministros religiosos das roças, no caso, ogãs, olwôs e babalaôs, que são as pessoas qualificadas para realizar as cerimônias. Assim como ocorre nos processos da Igreja Católica, a documentação dos cônjuges será encaminhada primeiramente ao cartório para, em seguida, se efetivar, no terreiro, a união matrimonial. Mascarenhas explica que os casamentos entre seus pares até então eram realizados apenas simbolicamente, sem efeito jurídico. “O pai-de-santo unia as duas mãos e realizava a união”, explica.

Segundo os cálculos do presidente da Fenacab, mais de dez mil pessoas iniciadas no candomblé devam viver como “marido e mulher”, apenas segundo as bênçãos dos deuses africanos. Mascarenhas acredita que a realização do casamento civil nos próprios terreiros vai reforçar ainda mais os laços com a religião africana, uma vez que muitos membros acabam recorrendo ao catolicismo para firmarem a troca de alianças. Em todo o estado, existem 5.900 terreiros oficializados, sendo que 2.700 estão em Salvador. De acordo com Mascarenhas, os números reais de casas dessa religião deve beirar a margem de 20 mil.

A intermediação do projeto da Fenacab até Brasília foi feita pela Defensoria Pública do Município, através do defensor Genaldo Lemos Couto, que não foi encontrado para falar sobre o trâmite pela reportagem do Correio da Bahia. Segundo informou Mascarenhas, as primeiras uniões cíveis nos terreiros de candomblé pelos ministros religiosos deverá ser feita para um coletivo de aproximadamente 15 casais. Atualmente, a Fenacab diz que existem pelo menos oito candidatos. Um deles é o babalaxé (herdeiro do cargo do titular do terreiro) Antoniel Ataíde Bispo, do terreiro Ominatôsse, na Cidade Nova. “Essa é a primeira prova que nós vamos ter e dar à sociedade de que realmente nós somos uma religião”, declarou Bispo, contrapondo com o caráter privativo da maior parte dos rituais do candomblé. O babalaxé ressalta a importância da união cível para os casos envolvendo herança, que, a partir do registro formal, será uma prova em caso da exigência da justiça na comprovação de “uniões estáveis”.

From Brazil’s Correio da Bahia
Tatiany Carvalho
redacao@correiodabahia.com.br

Candomblé terreiros are now officially permitted by law to effect African marriage ceremonies. The dreams of women and men initiated in the African religions of legally recognized marriages, supported by official documents, will materialize beginning in July. The project directed by the president of the National Federacy of African Cults (Fenacab), Aristides Mascarenhas, Brasilia did not even request the National Congress’s approval, since the Brazilian Constitution supports full liberty of religious expression.

Once so-called “framing of the Constitution” is accomplished, the next stage in the legal process, that should occur in June, is attending a preparatory course for the religious ministers that will perform the ceremonies, ogãs, oluwôs and babalawôs, the people most qualified to carry out the ceremonies. As is the case with the Catholic Church, the necessary documents and licenses must be first taken to the notary’s office, and after that, to make it effective, to the terreiro where the marriage will take place. Mascarenhas explains that until now, the marriages that took place in Candomblé terreiros were only symbolic, but not legally binding. “The Pai-do-santo joined the couples’ hands and carried out the ceremony,” he explains.

According to the president of the Fenacab’s calculations, more than ten thousand people initiated in Candomblé live as “husband and wife,” recognized solely by the African deities. Mascarenhas believes that the accomplishment of the civil marriage in the proper terreiros will further strengthen the ties with African religion, and with time many members will no longer need to recur to the Catholic Church to confirm the exchange of vows. Throughout the state, there are 5,900 officially recognized terreiros, and at least 2,700 of them are in Salvador. According to Mascarenhas, the true figures are probably closer to 20 a thousand terreiros.

The city’s Public Defenders’ office and public defender Genaldo Lemos Couto were the major proponents of Fenacab’s project before Brasilia. Correio da Bahia was unable to reach Lemos Coutos to obtain his comments for this article. According to Mascarenhas, the first unions to take place in the terreiros will be collective unions of approximately 15 couples. Currently, the Fenacab says that there are at least eight candidates. One of them is the babalaxé (he who inherits the position of the bearer of the terreiro) Antoniel Ataíde Bispo, of the Terreiro Ominatôsse, in Cidade Nova. “This is the first example that we will provide to our society that we really are a religion,” declared Bispo, who opposes the typical private character of most Candomblé rituals. The Babalaxé highlights the importance of these civil unions especially in cases involving inheritances, that, after the formal unions, will be valid proof before the law in cases of contested inheritances.

From Brazil’s Correio da Bahia
Tatiany Carvalho
redacao@correiodabahia.com.br

Los terreiros de Candomblé ya pueden oficialmente efectuar ceremonias matrimoniales africanas. Los sueños de mujeres y de hombres iniciados en las religiones africanas de efectuar uniones legalmente reconocidas, apoyadas por documentos oficiales, materializarán comenzando en julio. El proyecto dirigido en Brasilia por el presidente de la Federación Nacional de Cultos Africanos (Fenacab), Aristides Mascarenhas, no requirió la aprobación del Congreso Nacional, puesto que la constitución brasileña apoya total libertad de expresión religiosa.

Una vez que el llamado “enmarcamiento de la constitución” se logre, la etapa siguiente en el proceso legal, que debe ocurrir en junio, será asistir a un curso preparatorio para los ministros religiosos que ejecuten las ceremonias, los ogãs, oluwôs y babalawôs, la gente más cualificada para realizar las ceremonias. Al igual que sucede en el caso de la iglesia católica, los documentos y las licencias necesarias deben ser primeros llevados a la oficina del notario, y después de éste, para hacerlo eficaz, al terreiro donde ocurrirá la unión. Mascarenhas explica que hasta este momento, las uniones que ocurrieron en los terreiros de Candomblé eran solamente simbólicas, pero no legalmente atando. “El Pai-de -santo unió las manos de las parejas y realizó la ceremonia,” él explica.

Según los cálculos d el presidente del Fenacab, más de diez mil personas iniciadas en el candomblé viven como “marido y mujer,” una unión reconocida solamente por las deidades africanas. Mascarenhas cree que la realización de la unión civil en los terreiros apropiados consolidará más los lazos con la religión africana, y con el tiempo muchos miembros no tendrán más la necesidad de acudir a la iglesia católica para confirmar su intercambio de votos. A través del estado, hay 5.900 terreiros oficialmente reconocidos, y por lo menos 2.700 de ellos están en el Salvador. Según Mascarenhas, las figuras verdaderas están probablemente más cercanas a 20 mil terreiros.

El defensor Genaldo Lemos Couto y la Oficina de Defensores Públicos de la ciudad fueron los autores principales del proyecto de Fenacab antes Brasilia. El Correio da Bahía no logró alcanzar a Lemos Couto para obtener sus comentarios para este artículo. Según Mascarenhas, las primeras uniones a ocurrir en los terreiros serán uniones colectivas de aproximadamente 15 pares. Actualmente, el Fenacab dice que hay por lo menos ocho candidatos. Uno de ellos es el babalaxé (él que hereda la posición del portador del terreiro) Antoniel Ataíde Bispo, del Terreiro Ominatôsse, de Cidade Nova. “Éste es el primer ejemplo que proporcionaremos a nuestra sociedad de que realmente somos una religión,” declaró Bispo, quien se opone al carácter privado típico de la mayoría de los rituales de Candomblé. El Babalaxé destaca la importancia de estas uniones civiles especialmente en los casos donde se disputan herencias, para los cuales, luego de las uniones formales, será prueba válida antes de la ley cuando esta requiera prueba de unión matrimonial.

From the Philadelphia Enquirer
An advocacy group for African religions contends that the Sci Fi Channel series degrades the religion.
By Joseph A. Slobodzian
Inquirer Staff Writer

A Philadelphia-based advocacy group for African religions yesterday sued Universal Studios and producers for cable’s Sci Fi Channel, contending that a forthcoming “reality series” demeans and misrepresents the voodoo religion.

The federal lawsuit filed by the National African Religion Congress Inc. against Universal Studios Inc., USA Cable Entertainment, and House of Eleven Productions seeks a court order requiring the producers of Mad Mad House to change their advertising and programming.

“People already have negative feelings about this religion without a program like this exacerbating things,” said George Ware, president of the five-year-old congress. The congress claims 4,500 members representing such religions as Akan, the Orisa Tradition of Trinidad and Tobago, Ifa, Santeria-Yoruba, voodoo, Candomble and Lucumi, including 500 in the tristate Philadelphia area.

In promotions in print and on cable, Sci Fi describes Mad Mad House, premiering March 4, as a reality series in which “10 everyday people” move into a house run by “five genuine practitioners of alternative lifestyles.”

The “Alts” – a vampire, Wiccan, naturist, voodoo priestess and modern primitive – put their 10 guests through “tolerance testing activities,” one promotion says, and then vote weekly to decide who is banished and who ultimately wins a $100,000 prize.

The lawsuit contends that the program’s voodoo priestess, Iya Ta’Shia Asanti, is actually a priestess of “Yemoja in the Ifa tradition,” a faith of the Yoruba people of Africa.

Asanti does not dress as a voodoo priestess, the lawsuit continues, and a commercial showing participants being placed into a pit and covered with animal parts and entrails does not represent voodoo or Ifa.

A spokesman for producers Arthur Smith and Kent Weed in Los Angeles referred questions to Universal’s offices for the Sci Fi Channel in New York. Kat Stein, a senior vice president for communications, said she could not comment on the suit before consulting with the channel’s lawyers.

The lawsuit contends that producers reached an agreement with Asanti only after Gro Mambo Angela Novanyon, a recognized Haitian voodoo high priestess in Philadelphia who founded the congress, refused to participate in Mad Mad House.

The lawsuit asks for a federal judge to require the producers of Mad Mad House to properly identify Asanti as an Ifa, not a voodoo, priestess and prohibit them from “airing any episode… that falsely portrays any practice of African-based religions.”

Estado.com.br.
Festa de Iemanjá agita Salvador
Biaggio Talento

Salvador – No agitado calendário do verão baiano, este domingo é dedicado à Iemanjá. O tradicional Dia 2 de Fevereiro, deve atrair mais de 100 mil pessoas ao Bairro do Rio Vermelho onde se concentra o culto ao orixá mais popular do Candomblé. Turistas e baianos depositam, pela manhã, os presentes para Iemanjá (perfumes, espelhos, bijuterias, flores, tudo que possa agradar uma mulher vaidosa) em balaios de vime num barracão armado ao lado da sede da colônia de pescadores. No final da tarde, os 350 balaios com os presentes são levados por 40 barcos para o alto-mar onde são depositados para a orixá.

Organizada pelos pescadores há mais de 70 anos para agradar a rainha das águas devido a um período de pouca pesca, a festa acabou se ampliando e atraindo milhares de pessoas da Bahia e de fora do Estado. Além da parte religiosa a comemoração se espalha pelas ruas do Rio Vermelho onde o samba rola nas barraquinhas de bebidas e comidas típicas.

O Bairro do Rio Vermelho foi colonizado antes mesmo da fundação de Salvador em 1549. O náufrago Diogo Alvares Correia, o Caramuru, foi resgatado pelos índios tupinambás numa das praias do bairro, o Mariquita, estima-se em 1510. Nessa época, a área era um porto de contrabandistas franceses que negociavam a compra de pau-brasil com os índios.

From Correio da Bahia
Correio da Bahia
El alcalde de Salvador felicita a la mãe Tatá, ialorixá del Terreiro Casa Blanca

El Terreiro Casa Blanca, considerado el más viejo de los terreiros del Brasil, pronto será renovado con la ayuda de la oficina del alcalde de la ciudad del Salvador. Ayer, el alcalde Antonio Imbassahy firmó una orden administrativa que daba la vía libre para comenzar el trabajo en el templo afro-religioso, situado en la avenida de Vasco da Gama. Los planes actuales incluyen la contención de la ladera, drenaje, reparar las escaleras que conducen al terreiro, las aceras y los encintados. Por otra parte, Imbassahy prometió revitalizar la plaza del terreiro e instalar una puerta nueva de hierro allí que será creada por el artista local Bel Borba.

“Casa BLanca no es solo la matriz de cultura negra en la ciudad del Salvador, sino de todo el Brasil. Éste es un pedazo de tierra sagrada que merece nuestra atención”, justificó el alcalde, quien fue recibido por Mae Tatá, ialorixá de Casa Blanca, y por el antropólogo Ordep Serra, presidente de la Sociedade Beneficente São Jorge do Engenho Velho da Federação. Para Imbassahy, el terreiro es “una reliquia y demuestra fuertemente el carácter tolerante y no-exclusivista del pueblo brasileño.” Él concluyó recordandole a cada uno que la ciudad tiene la obligación de preservar su historia.

Patrimonio – el antropólogo Ordep Serra, alternadamente, destacó que las condiciones actuales del terreiro, no hechas caso de largo como una del sitesl histórico del Brasil, son altamente precarias. “Si no fuera por la intervención actual de la jefatura de la ciudad, este complejo arquitectónico correría riesgos serios”, él garantizó, elogiando la iniciativa de la administración municipal. “La decisión del alcalde es muy buena y oportuna, y permitirá que preservemos el terreiro Casa Blanca, tradicionalmente considerado el templo afro-brasileño más viejo.” Casa Blanca lleva más de 200 años situado en la localización actual. Antes de esto, funcionó en la región del Barroquinha, donde actualmente se encuentra la iglesia del Barroquinha. “No sabemos la fecha exacta cuando fue creado, pero tenemos una idea aproximada, ya que terreiros muy bien conocidos tales como Gantois e Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá son descendientes directos de Casa Blanca. Es el primer templo nagô en el Brasil,” explicó Ordep Serra. El templo de Casa Blanca fue también el primer monumento negro en toda la América que se haya dedicado como sitio histórico.

El alcalde está inclinado a utilizar la menos cantidad posible de concreto en la recuperación del templo afro. El objetivo es preservar las áreas verdes, puesto que el Candomblé se liga muy de cerca a la naturaleza. Asimismo, en el esfuerzo de contener la ladera, los planes son de utilizar para la cubierta tanto vegetal como sea posible y la nueva técnica del hidrossemeadura – apenas una sola parte de las renovaciones requerirá bloques concretos. La renovación tiene un costo estimado de R$260 mil – los recursos del gobierno federal, según lo estipulado en el presupuesto principal de União (OGU) de 2001.

From Correio da Bahia
Correio da Bahia
Salvador’s mayor compliments mãe Tatá, Casa Branca’s ialorixá

Casa Branca, considered oldest of Brazil’s terreiros, will soon be renovated with the help of the Mayor’s office of the City of Salvador. Yesterday, mayor Antonio Imbassahy signed an administrative order giving the go-ahead to begin the work at the afro-religious temple, located on Vasco da Gama Avenue. The interventions include the containment of the hillside, draining, repairing the staircases that lead to the terreiro, as well as its sidewalks and curbs. Moreover, Imbassahy promised to revitalize the terreiro’s square and to install a new iron door there that will be created by local artist Bel Borba.

“Casa Branca is not just the womb of black culture in the city of Salvador, but of all Brazil. This is a piece of sacred ground that deserves our attention “, justified the mayor, that was received by Mae Tatá, ialorixá of Casa Branca, and anthropologist Ordep Serra, president of the Sociedade Beneficente São Jorge do Engenho Velho da Federação. For Imbassahy, the terreiro is “a relic and strongly demonstrates the tolerant and non-exclusivistic character of the Brazilian people.” He concluded by reminding everyone that the city has the obligation to preserve its history.

Patrimony – Anthropologist Ordep Serra, in turn, highlighted that the current conditions of the terreiro, long ignored as one of Brazil’s historic sitesl, are highly precarious. “If it was not for the City Hall’s current intervention, this architectural complex would run serious risks”, he guaranteed, praising the initiative of the municipal administration. “The decision of the mayor was very happy and opportune, and will allow us to preserve Casa Branca, traditionally considered the oldest afro-Brazilian temple.”

Casa Branca has been situated in the current location for more than 200 years. Before this, it functioned in the region of the Barroquinha, where the Church of the Barroquinha is currently located. “We do not know the exact date when it was created, but to give an approximate idea, such well known terreiros as Gantois and Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá are direct descendants of Casa Branca. It is the first nagô temple in Brazil,” explained Ordep Serra. The Casa Branca temple was also the first black monument to be dedicated as an historic site in all America.

The mayor is inclined to use the least possible amount of concrete in the recovery of the afro temple. The objective is to preserve the green areas, since Candomblé is very closely linked to nature. Likewise, in the effort to contain the hillside, the plans are to use as much vegetable covering as possible and the new technique of hidrossemeadura – barely a single part of the renovations will require concrete blocks. The renovation has an estimated cost of R$260 thousand – resources of the federal government, as stipulated in the Master budget of União (OGU) of 2001.

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