Cortejo Afro was formed and made its Carnival debut on July 2, 1998 in the streets of Pirajá, a community in Salvador. The Bloco is rooted in the spiritual guidance and principles of an established Candomblé house in Salvador, Ilê Axé Oyá, and Cortejo Afro’s artistic design and Afrocentric creative expression was founded by artist Alberto Pitta. Concerned about the predominance of Axé music, Cortejo Afro was formed in an attempt to reestablish the African identity of Carnival. The Bloco-Afro was one of many to reinstate pride of African heritage, culture, and standards of beauty in the local celebration of Carnival which reaffirmed the values and aspects of black culture in Bahia as a means to elevate the community.
Batala Mundo members enjoy joining and playing in Cortejo Afro‘s bloco during Carnival every year. Batala was founded by former Cortejo Afro member, Giba Gonçalves. How many Batala Mundo members can you peep in this video? (Hint: look at the drum heads)
Blocos-Afro and Afoxé groups are community organizations that reinforce pride in African heritage and culture through music and dance. Started in Salvador, the blocos also have a social and political mission focused on the upliftment of the Afro-Brazilian community.
Olodum, Ilê Aiyê, Muzenza, Malê de Balê, Filhos de Gandhy, Ara Ketu, Cortejo Afro, Timbalada, and Didá (pictured below) are among the most popular groups that have survived since the late 70s and early 80s. While the afoxés are not political, the blocos are due to their concerns with resistência cultural (cultural resistance) issues such racism in education, employment, etc. Yet at the same time, the many blocos aim to reach an international audience through its music to bring awareness of the culture and plight of Black Brazilians.
Carnaval in Bahia (Carnaval Baiano) is one of the biggest street parties in the world. Every year this carnival brings over 2 million people from all races, religions, and cultures together to its capital city, Salvador. The event lasts officially for six full days, starting on a Thursday, then follows the usual five days of carnival (from Friday to Wednesday at noon). The festival takes place throughout the city at many sites. The most famous being the Campo Grande track (in the upper part of the city), Barra-Ondina track (by the shore), and Pelourinho (the historical neighborhood). It features many different rhythms and several musical performances. The most traditional presentations are the trio elétrico parades (trucks or buses carrying musicians, instruments, and sound systems), and Afro-blocos playing samba-reggae rhythms. Estimations state that approximately 2.5 million people (1.5 million being tourists) participate in the festivities every year.
Watch members of Batala Mundo play in the bloco for Cortejo Afro in Salvador at Carnaval de 2012.