*Editors note: For our first entry in the Voices column, Capoeira News Online is grateful to share an inspiring piece written by Mestre Maxwel, president and founder of the Ilê Cultural Foundation and the Tributo aos Mestres project. Maxwel was sure to point out that Mestre Glauber was also instrumental in making this project a reality, as you’ll read below.*
*The Foundation’s many missions include supporting the development of capoeira in the United Kingdom, and helping to support capoeira mestres in many ways—financial and otherwise. We thank Mestre Glauber, Mestre Maxwel, and his group for their ongoing work and encourage our readers to visit the Foundation website to find out how to support this great cause.*
Ilê Cultural Foundation
Ilê Cultural Foundation TRIBUTO AOS MESTRES
The Ilê Cultural Foundation was born due to the natural evolution of our own Capoeira group that started being developed in the UK, specifically in Swansea, Wales a little over 10 years ago. Capoeira has become an active part of the routine of many citizens in the UK. It has many elements that truly justify that happening; people get fit fast, learn about a different culture, another language, the Brazilian Portuguese; learn how to play musical instruments, those which are part of the Capoeira circles, and get all the other benefits that any other martial art can give to us.
We have promoted Capoeira not only within our school, but everywhere else. Reaching out to pretty much any place we consider that might be interested in our art-form, such as schools, colleges, community centers, dance and martial arts schools to mention a few; and luckily the response has been always positive which gave us the incentive to move further. The school had its ups and downs but has grown over the years. And as a consequence of this process we have decided to turn the group into a foundation considering we could be able to accomplish much more and so we did it!
Ilê Cultural Foundation
The Capoeira community has a powerful element to overcome the challenges we face along the process of making Capoeira grow and become established anywhere. We, as capoeiristas, help each other and thanks to that we were able to count on the assistance of our friends, and whenever we needed help they were there for us. That makes a difference!!!
During an exchange program in which we took our students to Ubatuba, São Paulo at some point, while having a conversation with Mestre Glauber we spoke about Tributo aos Mestres. We first met during our participation in the Brazilian School Games in 1989 in Brasília and from that point on we have stablished a good friendship that has been for nearly 30 years already. Nonetheless, it was during that time that started sharing our visions for the future in Capoeira and our responsibilities within our realm in Capoeira. It amazes me that the things we spoke so eloquently back then being teenagers, coming from our hearts and the love for our art-form, they are now all being fulfilled, as a consequence of the constant and never-ending work we have committed to do. So as I was saying about the Project Tributo aos Mestres it all started when we were getting ready for an activity with the students for the exchange program in Ubatuba and he sang a capoeira song that talks about the figure of the mestre in capoeira and the lessons that each one passes on, specially through the songs in the roda. One thing led to the other and pretty soon we were having lots of ideas that begun to form the Project that we have now as part of the Ilê Foundation and, gradually has enrolled many other capoeiristas who have joined us after getting to know more about what we are willing to accomplish with the Project, which is much more than just helping the old mestres with a financial contribution. Well that is also part of what we are doing, but there is so much more.
To begin with it, we are paying a tribute to the figure of the mestre and we acknowledge the importance of all the things that all the mestres do throughout their lives to make our capoeira grow, their example and leadership. It is unfortunate that especially in Brazil there is very little being done in terms of the governmental entities truly taking care of the population regarding education, health, safety and, consequently, better conditions to have a decent living with the finances allowing the citizens to provide for themselves. There is a culture of exploiting all the things in the land the way it was centuries ago when the European first arrived to establish a colony that remains to these days. The native indigenous were nearly exterminated, the slavery trade was so intense that Brazil has a huge mixture of Africans from many different tribes, thus cultures (thanks to that at least we have phenomenal cultural manifestations that were created throughout this process, samba and capoeira for instance). Due to this pretty much everyone suffers the consequences of this actions, not only the older mestres but pretty much everyone!
Anyway, the original idea was to develop this Project to create better conditions and start pulling our strength together, considering we share a common goal which is to preserve the greatest contribution that Capoeira can give to us as individuals, a path of self awareness in which we all acknowledge that there is something greater than each one of us! We also have the intention of start promoting the conversation thus educating our future generations about having the mestres getting themselves better prepared for when they reach an older age, to start thinking about a retirement plan. There was a meeting in the past in which a representative of the federal government in Brazil set down to many capoeiristas to talk about the capoeira as a profession, and at some point they spoke about the retirement. Well to begin the conversation about this topic he said that if a person contributed on a monthly basis with percentage of his or her salary, that person would be entitled to have a pension. Too bad that that we still have many individuals that are not taking any action into doing those contributions; poor mentality, lack of education on the matter, making already very little money that is not enough for the fixed expenses of each month, fact is that many mestres spend a lifetime struggling and find themselves having a hard time as they get older. With that being said, we also have the intention of devoting a segment of the project to start to built a structure that will provide alternatives for those who want to take action and contribute even if it is privately to a better retirement. Mestre Glauber had once a conversation with Mestre Marcelo Caveirinha who manifested the desire to assist other mestres on that matter. Perhaps we should get in touch with him to start making it a reality, after all as they say, one hand cannot clap!
As we progress, another chapter of the project is creating funds that will allow us to assist mestres to produce their own material, meaning recording songs, publishing books, translating texts or books into English or other languages according to the needs, and so on… allowing us to be contributing to not only preserve lots of important material that will be many mestres legacies for future generations but also will serve as an incentive for those who have the artistic and creative mind and have the common difficulties of producing something due to the lack of means to do it. Once again the formula is available to us, it is just a matter of pulling our strength together as a community to make it happen. Clearly there are already those who are being well succeed and have lots of people being part of their own groups therefore they are being more productive in terms of producing those types of material. Hopefully this kind of action will recuperate in a positive way that will also inspire them to engage in actions similar to ours consequently our Capoeira and its legacies will grow further more.
Having said that, we consider that in order for Capoeira, the mestres and disciples involved with it, and everyone else that is touched by the art form and all the benefits it comprises we will continue to take action towards establishing that this Project continues and grows steadily considering that ever since we started brainstorming about the idea up to the point in which we are right now, having already a foundation that supports and embraces the “Tributo aos Mestres”; having several respected mestres such as Mestres João Grande and Acordeon who are being really supportive and generous allowing us move forward knowing that the whole concept is worthwhile. We also have the support of many other mestres who are becoming our ambassadors worldwide, sharing with other our beliefs, dreams and efforts as well since they have devoted also their time to spread the word out, and their hard work since gradually we have more and more people making donations, organizing fund-raising events in support to the Project. Many thanks also to the artists who also gave generously their talent and work in support as well of what we have done. We can proudly say that there are amazing artwork in tribute to the masters that are being honored in our “Tributo aos Mestres Award” and other related materials that we have been producing to pay tribute to those mestres and preserve their legacies.
All of us will benefit from this! Capoeira in general will have even more to show out there in its quest to grow further more worldwide. The figure of the mestre will be appreciated, respected, nurtured, and above all be acknowledge as one the fundamental pillars in which our art form is and always will be represented whenever capoeira takes place. And of course, every capoeira player or practitioner is gaining something because once anyone is truly touched by capoeira, it is nearly impossible to move on in life without a positive transformation in which only a capoeirista can know.
Ever since I set my foot in the United Kingdom a little over a decade ago I’ve had a vision, a dream that is being fulfilled due to hard work and dedication, considering that I have been fortunate enough to have this powerful transformational tool which is Capoeira to touch, move and inspire people everywhere I go! The Ilê Cultural Foundation is growing slow and steadily; there are many amazing possibilities for the future and everyone is more than welcome to be part of this. Please visit us at www.ilefoundation.org and get to know more about us, our projects, please make your donations, get involved with the projects and let’s make a difference!!!
With best wishes to you all, axé Mestre Maxwel President and Founder of the Ilê Cultural Foundation