Here, the day-to-day life is as calm as it is quiet. Very simple houses, scattered throughout the rugged terrain of the region. A low wheezing song, coming from an old radio placed close to the window is one of the only sounds that lull the afternoon. Shy people live there. Their gaze mixes fatigue and hope. Sometimes, they get watering eyes from remembering their childhood or a distant relative. This is the scenario at Marinhos and Sapé, two of the six former-slave communities (quilombola) scattered around Brumadinho (MG), settlements founded by fugitive slaves who worked in the region. Marinhos has about 200 inhabitants. Sapé, slightly smaller, has approximately 50 homes. Both, however, carry with them a past of resistance and good stories.
Most residents, especially the elderly, can be considered a living portrait of a people struggling through work. Located in a region that used to house farms, many have learned to wake up in the morning and follow their parents in farm work. This is the case of housewife Maria Perpétua Socorro, 65 years old, born and raised in Sapé. “When we were kids, we worked from sunrise to sunset in the fields. My parents took my siblings and me to help them every single day. That’s how we were brought up”, she says.
When she was younger Perpétua used to help in the kitchen during typical celebrations. Photo: Rossana Magri
The passing of the years has changed reality a bit. Currently, with the new rural practices, we found only small household gardens in residents backyards. “Today, thank God, that past no longer exists. I say so because we suffered a lot”, says Perpétua. The desires and goals of those who live in the villages have also changed. In the past, the path of a young person was almost invariably to marry someone and stay in the region, whereas today’s youngsters are increasingly coming to larger centers. “There aren´t many job opportunities here, means to study more, so they end up leaving when they grow up,” reveals Antônio das Graças Silva, Perpétuas husband, who has two children.
But despite the new reality, some practices and old values ??are still passed on from parents to children in the quilombola communities around Brumadinho. The traditional festivals and religious cults withstand time and are the states true cultural heritage. The Guardas de Congo e Moçambique – cultural and religious expressions of African influence organized by the people take the streets several times a year, bringing colors and sounds that preserve local beliefs. Whether playing an instrument, carrying the crown or even helping in the kitchen, it is important not to let traditions die.
The Guardas de Congo e Moçambique mixtures pass, present and future. Photo: Rossana Magri
Since childhood, teacher Nair Fatima Santana, a resident of Marinhos, participates in the parties and points out that they are the key to keep the memory and origins of the region. “The celebrations show a bit of what we were and what we are”, she explains. According to her, until recently the term “quilombola” used to bother them. “I did not like being recognized as a quilombola, because I thought it referred to someone who had suffered, who had no life perspective. But with time, I realized that I was just denying my own existence. Today I see that being a quilombola means being part of a people which has a meaningful story. During our celebrations is the very moment we are blessed. We try to teach part of that history to our children here at school”, she proudly concludes.