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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