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The Murder of an Important Afro-Brazilian Cultural Figure Has Brazilians Reeling in Run-Up to Vote

Mestre Moa de Katendê—a capoeira master and advocate for Afro-Brazilians—was killed after saying he would not support hard-right candidate for president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Reginaldo Rosário da Costa, 63, entered his neighborhood bar last Sunday night to celebrate. His preferred candidate for President of Brazil, the center-left Fernando Haddad, had avoided a first-round defeat by the neo-fascist Jair Bolsonaro.

Locals knew Rosário as Mestre Moa de Katendê in his Salvador neighborhood. He was a capoeira master and he traveled around the world promoting Afro-Brazilian culture.

But not everyone was happy.


Paulo Sergio Ferreira de Santana, 36, arrived at the bar around 10:30 pm, clearly agitated. Ferreira initiated a tense political debate with Moa, arguing for Jair Bolsonaro to be the change that Brazil needs. Moa cautioned the younger man to consider black Brazilians' long struggle for freedom. Patrons in the bar cautioned the black barber to regard the elder Moa's historical perspective, causing him to storm out. The bar's crowd had returned to its jovial mood when Ferreira crept back with a knife and suddenly stabbed Moa 12 times in the back. Moa bled to death.

With those 12 blows, the petite Afro-Brazilian pioneer was killed by a political fanatic.

"Moa was an incredible artist, a talent recognized throughout the world. He played capoeira, danced and composed. It's an immense loss for the culture of Bahia and of Brazil," said Antônio Carlos dos Santos from Vovô do Ilê Aiyê, the largest Afro-bloco in Bahia, said to the BBC.

Mestre Moa is the first murder victim of an extreme right mentality which has exploded in Brazil in recent years thanks to Bolsonaro. Many Afro-Brazilians expect violence to increase if Bolsonaro is elected in the second round on October 28.

Bolsonaro, a congressman from Rio de Janeiro, has promoted fascist and racist ideas for the last 27 years. He said that Afro-Brazilians in quilombos, black rural communities that have had limited contact with cities, don't contribute to Brazil. Africans, he says, fled to Brazil to escape slavery, claiming that the Portuguese never set foot in Africa. He yearns for the return of Brazil's military dictatorship and denigrates women and LGBTQ people.

Bolsonaro's popularity exploded in the last two years, with him amassing a loyal fan base of more than 7 million social media followers. In the days following Mestre Moa's death, WhatsApp groups in support of Bolsonaro shared a photo of Moa sprawled on the floor of the bar in a pool of blood. The cornerstone of Bolsonaro's presidential campaign is zero tolerance for crime, yet when asked about Moa's death, Bolsonaro responded that while he felt sorry, he could not control his followers.

Moa grew up in Dique Pequeno in Salvador, and as a young kid, he studied capoeira with Mestre Beto Gogó. At the age of eight, he was initiated into his aunt's Candomblé worship center—Ilê Axé Omin Bain. As he grew older, he became a capoeira teacher for young kids and even participated in a folk dance troupe. Mestre Moa accompanied the explosion of Afro-Blocos in Salvador in the 70s. During carnival, Afro-Blocos bolster Afro-Brazilian heritage through their music and dance. In 1977, Mestre Moa won Ilê Aiyê's songwriting contest with the song Badauê. Even after 40 years, Badauê is still one of Ilê Aiyê's most popular songs. Afoxé groups, which have an even longer history in Salvador, express the Candomblé religion on the street during carnival. In 1994 Moa launched the Amigos do Katendê Afoxé group, igniting the renaissance of Afoxê groups in the 90s.

"His importance is indescribable because, in addition to sharing capoeira and Afro-Brazilian music with the world, he taught his own community about the importance of Afro-Blocos and Afoxés for black empowerment in Brazil," Jean Nogueira, a former capoeira student of Moa's told OkayAfrica. "He will always be remembered here."

Nogueira attended Mestre Moa's interment in Salvador and shared a video of it on social media.

Brazilian musical legend Caetano Veloso paid homage to him Facebook.

"Moa was my friend and he was one of the central figures in the growth of Afro-Blocos in Salvador," Veloso said. "I fought for him. As the founder of Badauê, as a song composer and a master of capoeira, Moa lived the real history of this city and of this country."

On Wednesday night Mestre Moa admirers, students, and peers, honored him in Pelourinho with an homage filled with dancing and berimbau music. Moa was a familiar figure in the neighborhood, often strolling the cobblestone streets with his berimbau on his back.

Attacks motivated by political dissonance continue in Brazil. Since October 1 supporters of Bolsonaro have committed more than 50 attacks across the country. Men beat a transsexual woman in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. Students in São Paulo mocked a black professor with racial epithets and drew a swastika on the school. A young woman wearing an #elenão sticker on her backpack reported to the police that she attacked by three strangers who carved a swastika into her stomach.

"Bolsonaro is bringing this terror to Brazil," Nogueira said. "I feel like if he is elected, my life will change."


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Still from "Kasala!"

Meet The Nigerian New Wave Director Behind the Film 'Kasala!'

One of Naija cinema's new wave, Ema Edosio talks about what it took to film her exciting new film in the streets of Lagos.

Ema Edosio is the director of "Kasala", a comedy set in present day Lagos and centers on the lives of four young men who go on a joyride to a party in a Honda Accord one of them has taken from his boss Taju without permission. Their evening is ruined when one of them crashes Taju's Honda breaking the windscreen and denting the car's body. With just four hours before Taju returns home, all four boys hustle around Lagos to raise money for the car repair.

Taju, who is a struggling butcher, is faced with a big problem of his own: his debtor has just given him an ultimatum to pay back money he's long owed. Bitter and frustrated, Taju's retribution will be double-fold, if he returns home to find his Honda is damaged. The four friends do not need more another reason to expect the worse from Taju if they're not able to fix his Honda before gets home in the next four hours.

"Kasala" is a vivid portrayal of contemporary Lagos and a riotous combination of physical comedy, inventive turns of phrases combined with fluid camera work and committed performances from some of the young and bright African acting talents.

Written by Temi Sodipo and directed by Ema Edosio—who is also the cinematographer and editor—"Kasala" was chosen for the closing gala of the 2018 edition of Film Africa in London this November, out of a total of 39 films from 15 countries.

Edosio flew into London for the film's UK premier at the Rich Mix cinema to a largely pan-African crowd who lapped up the rollicking comedy. Ahead of her trip to the UK, Okay Africa spoke to Edosio about her debut feature, the joys and challenges of shooting on location in Lagos and the rise of Nigeria's so called "Naija New Wave" cinema.

Photo courtesy of Ema Edosio


The fast pace and energy in Kasala is constant all through the film. Was this a deliberate injection or did it come as a result of the writing?

I worked as a video journalist for the BBC and I would go into the streets of Lagos to film, and I would see everything that made Lagos what it is: the traffic, the smell, the dirt, the vibe, the energy, the people. And I wanted to make a story that is authentic and that is the reason why I decided to make Kasala this way.

All the four friends and main characters jell naturally it would seem. How did you get them to work well together?

When I conceived of the film, I knew that I didn't want to work with any "known" faces. I knew that I wanted unknown actors. So I put out an audition call and these boys worked into the room and I told them to read together. And immediately it was like magic.

Why do you think they're largely unknown to the majority of Nigerian movie watching audience?

I think one of the reasons is there's not a lot of movies written about young people. Most of the scripts are for a certain kind of male character: the superhero who goes to save the damsel in distress, and the hunk and a lot of roles are not written for these amazing actors and that's why they're largely unknown.

Tomiwa Tegbe who plays "Effiong" is a good comic actor and has been in "On The Real (Ebony Life TV)" and "Shuga (MTV)". What does Kasala bring out in Tomiwa Tegbe that these other directors and film material that do not?

The thing that made Tomiwa Tegbe and the rest stand out in Kasala is that I gave them freedom to act and I wasn't micromanaging them. They became very comfortable in order to do their best to the film.

The cast as a whole is largely new and young with Jide Kosoko easily the most experienced. Why did you cast him for the role and not yet another "unknown" face?

The reason is I couldn't afford to hire known faces to work in the film and I honestly didn't have the budget. I [also] wanted to bring in a sense of familiarity and that is why I got Jide Kosoko. Even though they're guys are unknown, and they're are fantastic "here is someone you know who is in this movie playing with these amazing actors" which is why I worked with Jide Kosoko.

The different locations in the film are those of back corners, mechanic garages, meat market, communal flats most of which have the red and brown of rust and decay gives the cinematography a visual harmony. How much attention did you give to finding the right locations?

I think I made Kasala with a vengeance. I've had the privilege to work with Ebonylife tv which was beautiful but Kasala kept pulling me in: the people I met in the streets, the things I'd done on the streets of Lagos, the visual aesthetic kept pulling and I decided to make that. I wanted to see Lagos, I wanted to see barbwires. I wanted to see gutters, I wanted to see the people. I knew that the location was a character on its own. And I wanted to be able to find the right location that would be able to represent that boys and the lives they live in Lagos. I'm forever grateful for the people there who let us film there.

Your camera adopts the often frenetic pace of the film and is rarely still for long. Why this visual approach?

I'm very influenced by Guy Ritchie, Edgar Wright, Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese. And I would always say to myself that "these characters in their films can be Nigerians". I think that the camera should be fluid, breathe, move with the audience showing us "oh yeah this is a wide, oh yeah this is a close up". My influence by these directors was what I put into Kasala. And this is what made the film dynamic.

Are there any interesting, unplanned events during shooting which you could share with our readers?

Shooting in Lagos is one of the hardest thing to do. You have these agberos [louts] who come to you and literally want to take your equipment. I went with a very small crew and I'm very petite and they would see me and say "who is this small girl? She doesn't have money. Leave her alone, let her shoot". I started bringing them into the film to act and it was very beautiful seeing them react to it. One of the most interesting things is the children in the estates [on location] who act in the film, the joy and the playfulness. In some ways we brought back some joy and some fun into the neighbourhood.


Still from "Kasala!"

Did you worry much about what may be lost to foreign audiences who may not be clued up the pidgin English and "Nigerianisms" used in the film?

You can't come to Lagos and make a film about the slum in English. I felt like the pidgin English was as important as the location. My mind was not about where the foreign audience would accept it or whatever. My mind was "how do I make a film that is authentic to Nigeria? How do I make a film that would show of Lagos?" It would do no justice to use English.

Who are the other key players in Nigeria's "nu wave" film and tv you would like to highlight?

When you talk about new wave key players you're talking about Abba Makama whose film "Green White Green" inspired me to make "Kasala". CJ SeriObasi, ImoEmoren, Jade Sholat Siberi, Kemi Adetiba. So many new directors are springing out nollywood. And they're new directors making amazing stuff. I'm really really excited about the future.

How did you raise the funding needed to make "Kasala"?

When I wanted to make Kasala, it was not the kind of story people would fund. I decided in order to bring this story to live, to use the skills I'd gained over the years—to produce, direct, shoot and edit. Not because I wanted to be in control, because I didn't have the budget. That is the sport of new director coming in now. We're fighting against all odds and it is now beginning to be clear that it's way beyond nollywood. Kasala has been to over 20 international festivals and counting. And there an audience for our films, there's an audience for our voices.

What are you expectations for it at the festival?

I really don't know what to expect. I just hope that they love the film. For the Nigerians in the diaspora,I hope that it brings back memories of Lagos. For black people I hope it gives them a sense of how we are back home to help them connect with us as Africans. For the foreign audience I hope that they see a Nigeria of passion, of community, of tenacity, of brotherhood of love.

"Kasala" will be released worldwide on December 7th

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Indomie: Unpacking a Nigerian Tradition

What does Nigeria's way of preparing this beloved brand of instant noodles say about the country as a whole?

Before I came to Lagos in September to begin a collaborative performance project, I imagined all the ways the place would challenge all I had read and heard about it, and all the ways it might remind me of my home, Trinidad and Tobago. Of all the kernels of similarities I've encountered so far, Indomie is perhaps the most intriguing.

Indomie, a brand of instant noodles originating in Indonesia, has become the household name for all instant ramen noodles in Nigeria.

As a child, I would make Top Ramen, but ours was far less intentionally adorned. I had never seen anyone add anything but Golden Ray. I would try to be fancy with my own and add eggs, but they never quite attained Naruto ramen standards.

Indomie was my first meal in Nigeria. I had arrived in Lagos about two hours earlier. In those two hours I had seen something of the character of the city. In the midst of the clouds of dust and engine exhaust fumes I saw a woman almost fall out the car she was getting into, I saw men sitting atop a truck, like wrinkles in the night sky fabric, I saw selling, so much selling and buying and haggling. It seemed to me that everything was happening here.

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Fela Kuti's 'Zombie' Is Coming Out On Limited Edition 8-Track

"Zombie" and "Mr. Follow Follow" are available in the nostalgic 8-track cartridge.

"Zombie," Fela Kuti's 1976 protest anthem and scathing attack on the Nigerian military, is getting an 8-track re-release.

Knitting Factory Records, Kalakuta Sunrise and Partisan Records have made 300 limited editions copies of Zombie/Mr. Follow Follow which you can pre-order now ahead of its December 7 release.

Fela Kuti's classic song uses zombies as a metaphor for soldiers mindlessly following orders. The song is thought to have triggered the Nigerian government's horrific assault on the Kalakuta Republic, in which the compound burned to the ground, Fela was brutally beaten and his mother, Nigerian feminist icon Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, was murdered.

You can pre-order Zombie/Mister Follow Follow on 8-track now and read more about each song from Mabinuori Kayode Idowu's text accompanying the release below.

Purchase Fela Kuti's Zombie/Mr Follow Follow on 8-Track

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