08 July 2010

Orixas, domestic workers, and black people were the highlights of the day.
It was very interesting to learn from the "mother of the saints" (leader of the worshiping house we were visiting) what are the beliefs of the candomble religion and then have her read the beads for us in individual sessions. She was dressed so beautiful and she projected so much love and peace. The room was surrounded by paintings of the different orixas, the divinities worshiped in candomble, each portraying the particularities of the orixa.
Moving to another aspect of the black culture of Bahia, we heard about the struggles of the domestic workers, most of them black women, who have organized themselves in a union to fight for their rights as workers. Individual stories gave a special touch that made real the cause and triggered all kinds of feelings in us. Some of the current practices in the way employers treat domestic workers are a perpetuation of old patterns of slavery, like sexual abuse resulting in children that are further rejected or the kinds of tasks assigned to the workers in accordance to their gender, females inside the house, males outside of the house. While the struggle is tough they have accomplished good things and have no intention of giving up.
The Cultural Foundation of Palmares is not going to give up either. Their main task is to preserve the afro culture and to boost the self esteem of black communities. They also advocate for the establishments of laws that promote race equality and seeking certification of the quilombos (communities established by escaped slaves) in order for the communities to keep their land and make their sustenaince out of it.
A similar mission have "osnegoes", mission that they accomplish by teaching how to manufacture and play drums, how to dance to their rythm, african culture history, basic skills, and self-esteem workshops for teenagers in a struggle to keep them safe from the drug bussiness. Their music and dances are beautiful expressions of the black history and cultre in Brasil while promote the creativity of the new generations.
We are looking forward to learn from the women´s program at ITEBA, the theological education institution hosting us tomorrow. For now, some time with our hosts families before we go to bed to have some rest.

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