This is not a formal research carries out in the academy, but writing this text stimulated my teacher/researcher side. This is because when I read: Sambaqui Community, I immediately made an analogy with “samba” (dance), but I decided to find out what the “sambaquis” are. To my surprise I discovered that these are archaeological sites found in Brazil.
I found a very short text from three teachers of the Municipal Teaching Unit Pedro II in Santos, Augusta 5th year A, Claudia 5th year B, and Patricia 5th year C, which says the following:
“There was a prehistoric people who lived on the coast called ‘sambaquieiro’, a name given because this people had the custom of making large mounds of shells and other materials, the so-called sambaquis, which in Tupi means precisely ‘heap of shells’. The sambaquieros used to bury their dead and light bonfires in sambaquis, which may mean that this was a farewell ceremony. Sambaquis are an important sample of the behavior and habits of the peoples who built them because they are composed of, for example, arrowheads and other artifacts, as well as many, many remains of food: shells of crustaceans and sea urchins, fish bones, and bones of birds and mammals. The piles emerged near places where there was plenty of food, and probably for this reason, many sambaquis are found near bays, lagoons, and aquatic environments where fresh and salty waters meet – in these environments there is a lot and diversity of aquatic animals”.
And it is in a neighborhood that also has an indigenous name, Jardim Guarani in the District of Brasilândia (São Paulo), that today the Comunidade Cultural Quilombo Sambaqui is located, which was previously in Vila Anglo (Pompéia) and maintained its activities in the backyard of Rosângela Macedo, popular educator, singer, songwriter, artisan, and cultural producer.
It was her who brought other people together, who joined to carry out socio-cultural projects in the outskirts of the city of São Paulo and in the public education system.
In pandemic times, when the coming and going became an obstacle for personal exchanges as speaking and listening presentially, I turned to the internet to find out some information about the work of the community in the neighborhood.
The collective, which has existed since 2002, has been dedicated to researching and maintaining part of the traditions of afro-paulista culture in the city, such as Jongo, which arrived in Brazil brought by enslaved Africans from Congo and Angola, who, imprisoned, could dance only with the authorization of “their masters”.
People, in a circle in the yard in front of a bonfire, received the “blessing” [benzeção] of the older slave to the sound of sacred drums, then asked the black elders for permission and started jongo improvising verses and singing the opening melody [ponto de abertura]. The other slaves responded and began to dance and change words, creating others and communicating through a cypher language. Thus, they could protest, arrange parties and anything else without being understood by others besides themselves.
Before the pandemic that made us sick and killed us in so many ways, the community carried out actions that involved a diversity of works that took the culture of São Paulo to other places: capoeira, Jongo, funk, traditional games, storytelling, knowledge of Brazilian indigenous culture, public parties in their headquarters, permaculture workshops, courses about food. And parties… public parties at their headquarters!
With the pandemic, actions began to happen through the screen of computers and mobiles and continue – and will continue – resisting forever.
May the virtual meetings continue and the face-to-face meetings be safe and more and more constant.
It is also important to say the importance of this work to preserve and disseminate this culture.