Aware of the difficulty that we have to enter into their world, even washing dishes,

and it’s super easy for them to come here. How do you see this?

MLR – Well it’s obvious that it has to do with money! Fixing this is complicated, as I’ve

just said: an angoleiro is president or something of an association of Regional, he also

makes up part of the Capoeira Angola counsel, he’s also the godfather of such-and-such

group, he’s an angoleiro, he says he doesn’t need money, but he sells “Angola Mãe”7 tshirts,

he’s involved in needy groups of Capoeira Angola where the mestre has no money

to support his group, to get a t-shirt, to buy instruments, and he’s there: - Businessman!!

Now ask if this guy plays Capoeira? Ask if this guy plays berimbau? If this guy sings

Capoeira songs? It’s a total mess, but he has money, and he’s white! This is one of the

examples; now let’s look at the European: The European and his culture is over with!

What’s European culture? Wars, missiles, cash… what’s the culture of the United States?

And who is maintaining this business of, let’s put it this way: - Capoeira came from

Africa. It came from Africa to the poorest countries through the enslaved blacks, who

7 “Mother Angola”

today are dispersed in Martinique, in Guadalupe, throughout the Caribbean, throughout

Brazil. Just now, on Reunion Island, there appeared a martial art called Morangue, which

was prohibited until a little while ago. Now, Morangue, together with Capoeira Angola,

is the biggest fad in Europe: Capoeira Angola and Morangue!! We had never heard of

Morangue, but now everyone’s doing it!! The angoleiro who goes to Europe to make

money!! What’s he worried about? What will he do over there? What will he pass on?

He’ll take it as though it was a cultural product for the whites to participate, and I’m not

condemning anyone because I also did this. Ask the guy if he wants to go to Africa to

teach Capoeira? No one wants to return to Angola with Capoeira… no one wants to take

Capoeira to Cuba, because there’s no money to be made…

NR – Well, at that time there wasn’t as much access to information as there is


MLR – I did that while I was there, I didn’t think about living there, no, the weapon that I

had to earn money was making my instruments and teaching Capoeira, I had no

aspirations of: I’ll pass on Capoeira! I’ll spread Capoeira! I went to Europe with the goal

of money, because if I can make a living here then I won’t go, because it’s robbery! The

U.S. today has João Grande with his crew there, but the Americans are contesting, are

spreading that Capoeira is Afro-American, in other words, if it was really Afro-

American… Except that they went to Africa and had to put their foot in their mouth,

because there is no Capoeira in Africa; you have to go to Bahia. And you think that he

would go to Bahia: - Ah no, I’ll go to Bahia to tell Bahians that Capoeira is really there?

The reactionary American white men and black men, they come here to take away our

Capoeira, and we go there to deliver it to them, gift-wrapped, understand? And over

there, we compete with our own brothers. The angoleiros in the U.S. today compete with

me, with you, with whoever isn’t from their group or whoever takes Capoeira Angola

there. They do everything to burn you, so that you don’t make it. They now think that the

U.S. is theirs. The angoleiros who are there, dude, if you’re not invited by them to

participate in the panel discussions, in the “little workshops” they have there, if you go by

your free and spontaneous will and with your own money, they cut you off. You have to

be hard with the white reactionary system and with the black capoeirista, if you’re not

invited by him. It’s the little shame that is occurring with Capoeira Angola in Brazil and

outside the country. When we started to do street Capoeira here… it was something that

already existed, as Mestre Ciro says: there has been Capoeira Angola in Brazil for 500


NR – When did the roda in the Terreiro start?

MLR – The rescue has been going on for about 4 or 5 years. This process began when the

late Dois de Ouro, who was one of the rescuers of Capoeira, got involved. And then

Mestre Boca Rica, Mestre Ciro, and I joined. The oldest one in this story was Dois de

Ouro, he was always there. And then there was one point when things heated up, the crew

that was doing Capoeira, there were many more troublemakers. Rabble-rousers, which is

what the Pelourinho always had. More of those than capoeiristas. They were the guys

who made chaos in the roda and demanded money from tourists, or robbed them.

Actually the capoeiristas didn’t even see this. They were playing, and then some other

guy would come around and pass the hat to collect money. They weren’t capoeiristas,

they were just taking advantage. So I see it this way, that this street thing was exactly to

break a little of this academy business, at a time in which everyone was defending only

academy Capoeira – street Capoeira is nothing, corner Capoeira is nothing… - street

Mestres… they’re nothing! It’s a thing of vagabonds, without clothes, playing shirtless,

sweating, stinking. That was what the policemen and the employees of IPAC said; they

wanted to standardize street Capoeira with a uniform and everything. It was something

that Street Capoeira will never accept. There have already been proposals for this. I’ve

had one, Boca Rica has had one, to put on a uniform in order to be organized by them.

It’s also like the Association (Brazilian Capoeira Angola Association), which we believed

to be for the benefit of Capoeira Angola, of capoeiristas. But we were disappointed,

because each one of the presidents there has had the Association as their academy, as I

don’t know, their monopoly, so we’ve had problems with the presidents of the

Association. First it was Mestre João Pequeno who dropped the ball, then Mestre Curió

dropped the ball, then Barba Branca dropped the ball, then Mestre Mala too. And it

started to be one of those typical things of Brazilian history… on the other hand it was

suitable to the whole business of money, to the business of exclusion of the capoeirista

himself. I, a capoeirista at 51 years old, Mestre Neco here at 60, Boca Rica at almost 70,

and they require us to pay the Association. How long have we been there? For years and

years. Now they want us to pay a fee? The people who should pay are the young people,

the affiliates, not the people who are already on the counsel of mestres. And there’s the

whole thing of discrimination itself among the lineages of Capoeira. Who is from

Pastinha, who is not, who is from Bobó, who is from João Pequeno. The discrimination

of one Capoeirista excluding another: - You’re a student of Jogo de Dentro, but I’m a

student of So-and-So, and Jogo de Dentro is worthless. It’s like the church! It’s like this:

for me the Church is just one, the Church of Jesus Christ. “Wherever there are two or

more men who profess the name of Jesus Christ, there is a Church!” But today you’re

Baptist, or Pentecostal, and they give no support for whoever is of the universal church.

It’s very difficult for a guy from one Capoeira group to respect another. It’s a really big

problem that we have today in Capoeira Angola. We and our colleagues. In the

Association, “Mr.” Gildo imposed an epoch in which everyone had to be dressed in a

white jacket with a blue tie. In other words, to do a presentation, if you’re a capoeirista

with Axé, I’ll take you to the event, but for an official performance, for a trip or

something like that, if you don’t wear the jacket exactly the way he wants it, he scraps

you! Who is he to do this? For me he’s nothing in Capoeira! Today we have many people

who take advantage, and this is the big problem. And I’m not going to go much farther,

because even the young capoeiristas are involved in this! It’s the majority; almost no one

is free from it! The Young Mestres of Capoeira Angola are a bunch of idiots! If you’re

one of their students, you have to stay there, eating the bread that the devil kneaded! If he

has a good head, then Amen… but if you’re against his philosophy – philosophy in the

sense of his manipulation – if you don’t agree with everything, he kicks you out of the

group! You’re just fine in the group for ten or fifteen years, you’re on good terms with

your mestre, but if one day you disagree about something arbitrary, he kicks you out like

they do in the Catholic congregations, in the Jehovah’s Witnesses… on the day that you

don’t agree with what he thinks, you’ll be banned. You won’t be liked by anyone,

because your own mestre will burn you everywhere, since he didn’t graduate you and

you’re giving classes! This is Capoeira? In my time Capoeira was learned in a group, but

also in the backyard, and we all know that Capoeira had nothing to do with money.

Today we have various groups that manipulate the old mestres of Capoeira, take them to

the U.S., give them their 200 dollars and forbid the mestre from going to any other

academy, even an academy of Capoeira Angola! The mestre has to stay there until the

end. Everyone makes the mestres give workshops just for gringos, just for Americans, no

one gives respect; they give them 25 or 50 dollars. What if we did the same thing with

our mestres! The roda in the Terreiro is the only Angola roda that’s open to anyone; it’s

not just a roda of angoleiros, but the base is Angola. Whoever is a capoeirista, he could

be Regional, and respects Capoeira Angola, he arrives in a roda and does a movement

and is discriminated. But he goes there and plays whether he’s Angola or not. If he’s an

angoleiro, then amen, but if he isn’t and he plays on the ground, then I don’t even want to

know. The clothing is that of the common citizen. If the guy wants to wear his group

uniform then amen, but I’m not fond of the guys who arrive, ten or fifteen of them, all

with the shirt of the same group. It’s good because people from the whole world come

and play; it’s enough for you to have respect, and then you can play an instrument, sing,

help out. And this Capoeira, we say that it’s the Capoeira of the excluded. Because we’re

excluded because we play in the street, because we don’t use uniforms, because we go to

any roda. A girl shows up, she doesn’t have a uniform, she’s wearing whatever pants, and

she plays. A guy is hanging out, he’s wearing shorts, he plays and no one’s going to get

on his case because he’s not wearing “Capoeira pants,” understand? He won’t play in

swimming trunks8… but barefoot? Sure! So this is the spirit! It’s a shame that this roda is

the only one of its kind; there should be other street rodas.

8 Not swimming trunks as in those of the board-shorts variety... swimming trunks of the Speedo variety is

what the Mestre is referring to here.

NR – And the fabrication of instruments?

MLR – This work of instrument-making came first from the groups in which I

participated. I already liked to work with instruments. I took the instruments to fix them,

after performances, the instruments that broke, I took them to an old guy named Nelson

Maleiro. He was from here, a Carnaval organizer, the president and director of Flor de

Bagdá, one of the old Carnaval groups. And this guy was involved with the whole crew,

all the groups, percussionists and folkloric groups, and I had the chance to meet him

through a group in which I participated, and I watched him. This was when I began to do

some things with instruments; I didn’t miss the opportunity to learn. In Rio I worked in a

vat factory that made wine barrels, which is the same process used in making an

atabaque. And then I went to São Paulo. I learned how to make atabaques in Rio. And

since then, in Europe as well, I met many Africans who made instruments. I went to

Africa as well, twice, to Abidjan, the Ivory Coast, and other places, where there were lots

of instruments. I went to India, to Thailand.

NR – So we can see that you got your higher education when you left from your