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)
Festa Junina (June Festival) starts off with the celebration of Saint Anthony that commences on June 11 until June 13 when Bahians celebrate at the Santo Antônio Place at the far end of the Pelourinho neighborhood. This saint became very popular to women because he is considered to be be the “matchmaker” patron saint between men and women. People attend church services, follow street processions, and distribute bread to the poor. Around Santo Antônio Place, vendors sell typical Bahian food and musical performers add to the celebration. In Bahia, Saint Anthony is syncretized with the orixá Ogum, the orixá of iron, metalwork, technology, and war and also known as the one who clears pathways and removes obstacles. On this day feijoada, the favorite dish of Ogum, is offered with other offerings to ask for another year of protection against the ills of the world and to remove all obstacles along life’s paths. Ogum is respectfully greeted with shouts of “Ogunhê!”