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News > Brazil

Lula's Native Region Showcases Afro and Indigenous Folklore

  • Members of Maracatu Nacao Raizes de Pai performing in the streets of Garanhuns on July 21, 2019.

    Members of Maracatu Nacao Raizes de Pai performing in the streets of Garanhuns on July 21, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 25 July 2019

Singer Maria Rita, the daughter of iconic artist Elis Regina, will close the festival on July 27.

Garanhuns, a city off the beaten track in northeastern Brazil and the hometown of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, hosts a huge festival each year that showcases Brazilian folklore, which boasts elements of African and European culture.

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Maracatu drums, string literature and empanadas, or meat pies, as well as wine are served during the 10-day event in the streets of Garanhuns, which will host its 29 Winter Festival from July 18 to July 27 with more than 500 attractions spread out over about 20 venues.

African and Indigenous traditions, high-octane heavy metal concerts, clowns and the dynamic rhythms of the region's traditional dances all share the stage in Garanhuns, where Lula, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010, was born.

One street is animated with the beat of the maracatu, a folkloric dance that traces its roots to colonial Brazil. The traditional dance blends elements of African, Portuguese and Indigenous culture.

Performances of the frevo, with dancers wearing masks, adornments and carrying colorful umbrellas, are offered along with classical music concerts and rock concerts at different venues in the city.

After dark, it is time for dancing, music and the forro — the traditional dance of the northeast that has conquered Brazil and the world.

The Garanhuns Winter Festival, however, is not just a big party. It provides access to training and education, and exposes visitors to a wide variety of ideas to fight prejudice.

"The festival shows the culture of the most discriminated against people in Brazil, who are the Blacks and the Indigenous. With the administration (of ultra-right President Jair) Bolsonaro, Indigenous culture is on the verge of extinction," N'golo Rafael Domeniqui, of the Carijos community in Recife, said.

Dancer Virginia Lucia, a member of the maracatu group Raizes de Pai Adao, said that during times of "cultural drought," it was essential to disseminate the "diversity" of Pernambuco and Brazil.

"We have to get our richness out there internationally. We have to incentivize cultural policies and present the vast culture of our state and our country," the dancer told EFE.

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