By Njoli Brown
I’ve recently returned from another visit to Seattle. Pastinha Weekend, an event that the International Capoeira Angola Foundation hosts annually in order to acknowledge our lineage, to reflect on the roles of revolution figures of African descent and to reconnect with our family and friends. The weekend was beautifully put together and had all the richness and love that I’ve come to expect from these gatherings. As an educator though, I wanted to reflect a bit on Mestre Silvinho’s standout capacity to create a nurturing environment within which his group seems to have truly flourished.
Holding space as a mestre of Capoeira Angola, as a teacher and as a mentor presents a wide array of challenges and rewards. Profoundly, this person is both, responsible for the maintenance of a centuries old tradition and, simultaneously, must assert the viability of traditional culture in contemporary society. It isn’t enough for them to deny the existence of the word in which they live but they must also have a critical and evolving vision of how to reconcile the humanity of their community with the society wherein they function.
What make Silvinho’s model so particularly distinct is the feeling of mutual respect that he propagates within his collective. Not only does he humbly distinguish himself as a remarkably knowledgeable and responsible patriarch, but he so clearly and openly recognizes the strengths and hopes of the members within his group.
That being said, while he provides the trajectory, his group drives its own forward motion. As a teacher the best example we can often set is in our capacity to allow leadership to disseminate throughout. True, there is no one else who has the capacity to teach capoeira at the same measure, but their functioning grant writing commission? The healthy foods project? Their regularly organized occasions for fraternization? The youth projects? All of these are student inspired and driven.
Fertile soil for seeds to grow. Inspiring to see things come to fruit Northwest.