Kenya Welcomes a Taste of Afro-Brazilian Culture – Mandinga Ancestral Capoeira Angola Festival

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Mandinga Ancestral set the standard for Capoeira Angola festivals in Africa and generated an immediate increase interest in the martial art within East Africa.

Nairobi, Kenya, December 08, 2017 — Since the early 90's interest in the Afro-Brazilian martial art, Capoeira Angola grew worldwide prompting many Brazilian instructors, Mestres, to move to North America and Europe to shepherd the growth and to maintain its authenticity which includes the history of enslaved Africans, religious practices, and peaceful conflict resolution through movement. In 2015, Contra-Mestre Salim Rollins founded Capoeira Angola Center Kenya (CACK) with the vision of reconnecting Grand Mestre João Grande with Africa.

CACK and Internationality, a company which encourages young people of color to travel beyond tourism, launched the inaugural Mandinga Ancestral: Capoeira Angola and African Arts Festival on 19 November 2017. Over the course of seven days, attendees from Egypt, Japan, Angola, Colombia, Germany, the United States and Kenya visited Nairobi, Naivasha, and Nakuru. The festival’s biggest draw was the series of Capoeira Angola workshops lead by Mestre João Grande. Participants also enjoyed:

-Samba and Axė dance classes as well as live musical performance by Brazilian artist Cissa Paz with Kenyan percussionist Wakake Oti;
-A safari in Nakuru National Park;
-Daily yoga or tai chi;
-A presentation on curative properties of local plants and trees; and
-A tour of Kuona Trust artist collective.

Kenyan businesses including HealthyU; Kili Natural; La Maison Royale Hotel in Nairobi; Peppercorn Holiday Resort in Naivasha; Pampa Churrascaria; Abyssinia restaurant; and Mama Zaza’s; provided discounts and in-kind donations which directly lead to the attendees sense of appreciation for the festival delivering an experience above and beyond their expectations. Furthermore, through the organizers’ international sponsorship efforts, five youths from the Kibera and Ngara slums in Nairobi participated for free in the entire festival giving them exposure to different parts of Kenya and African diasporic culture. An additional 40 children from a Nairobi orphanage, who train capoeira with the Kenyan based NGO Moving Cultures, joined the final workshop and roda at the Kenyan National Theatre for free.

“I was able to participate in seeing Capoeira Angola in practice in Africa. In particular, the lineage of Capoeira Angola coming directly from Mestre João Grande through Contra-Mestre Salim. I’m looking forward to Mandinga Ancestral in the future, as well as the growth of Capoeira Angola (in Africa),” said Ramal Lamar a student of Contra Mestre Salim who lives in San Francisco.

“This was my first time in Kenya. We sang a lot. We learned new movements, I learned the new one about the spider and Mestre was happy. It was as it’s supposed to be – the best,” expressed João Reis head of a Capoeira Angola group based in Luanda.

“My experience was inspiring – having people from all around the world sharing this culture of capoeira. It was something different, something new. I was able to learn from Mestre and it’s such a pleasure and honor for me. I never knew that one day I’d be able to do it. I feel like I’ve learned for three years being with Mestre for six days,” stated Roger Ngaiara one of the sponsored youth from the Kibera slum in Kenya.

As one of the first international Capoeira Angola festivals in Africa, Mandinga Ancestral established a benchmark for future events – contributing to increased interest in capoeira and cultural tourism in Africa. With support from the local and international capoeira community through direct donations or purchase of Mandinga Ancestral apparel on the website, CACK will continue to offer free workshops for youth in Nairobi slums and twice weekly adult classes in Kilieshwa for Ksh 1500.

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Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson

Sarah is a financial reporter, focusing on technology, national security, and policing. Before joining Daily Telescope she worked as a staff writer at Fast Company and spent two years as a foreign correspondent in Turkey. Her work has been published in Al Jazeera America, The Nation, Vice News, Motherboard, and many other outlets.
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