In Santo Amaro, a Bahian Recôncavo town, Bembê do Mercado is a festival that commemorates this event every May 13. Candomblé rites are practiced under a barracão (a big tent) with religious icons and symbols set up in front of the town’s mercado (market). Musical shows, capoeira, samba de roda and maculelê are some of the highlights of the celebration. Nego Fugido, a reenactment of a slave escape attempt that resulted in recapture and the purchase of manumission, takes place in the streets. At the end of the celebrations, a fireworks display is followed by a ritual offering to Iemanjá at nearby Itapema Beach.
Lélia Gonzalez was an intellectual and activist of the Movimento Negro (Black Movement) in Brazil and primarily responsible for the development of black feminism in Brazil. Gonzalez was born in 1935 and grew up to challenge the reality of social vulnerability by achieving her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology, confronting racism and sexism in the social sphere, and organizing political actions while producing scholarly works. She was a member of the Unified Black Movement (MNU), an organization that changed the history of Black activism in Brazil in the 1970s. Gonzalez is credited with connecting common experiences of black women from Latin America and bringing those experiences to a national debate about the condition of black women and colonization. She was one of the few black women in Brazil who had the opportunity to participate in international discussions of the feminist movement and connect with organized Black women in Latin America and in the African diaspora as a whole. From this experience, Gonzalez advocated the construction of an Afro-feminist agenda in Latin America since Black women, in different contexts, were subjected to similar conditions of inequality and discrimination. Gonzalez’ theory of the intersectionality of race, social class, and gender as articulated categories of social marginalization is still the subject of debate in Brazil in the studies of Black women.
In 2010, the government of the state of Bahia created the Lélia Gonzalez Award to encourage public policies towards women in Bahian municipalities.
Samba de Roda, which involves festive music, dance and singing, was developed in the state of Bahia, in the region of the Recôncavo during the 17th century. It evolved from the dances, rhythms, and cultural traditions from different regions in Africa where enslaved Africans brought to Brazil were from. One of the defining characteristics of the dance is the gathering of participants in a circle (roda) while each one takies turns dancing in the center of the ring while the others clap their hands and sing. At first, a major component of regional popular culture among Afro-Bahians, the Samba de Roda was eventually taken by migrants to Rio de Janeiro, where it influenced the evolution of the urban samba that became a symbol of Brazilian national identity in the 20th century.