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Afro Brazilian Culture in Salvador de Bahia

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

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Brazil, with an estimated 51% of its population of African descent, has the largest community of Black origin outside of Africa. The arrival of Black people in Brazil goes back to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. More than one third of the enslaved people taken from the African continent were brought to Brazil by the Portuguese, who brought an estimated 1.7 million enslaved people from the West African country of Benin to the state of Bahia in hopes of benefiting from free labor and increasing their share in the sugar cane business.

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Salvador, the capital of Bahia, and once the first capital of Brazil, was founded in 1501 and has a population of 3 million people. 80% of the population are Afro Brazilians, which is the highest density in a city outside of Africa.

Salvador is very popular for its vibrant Afro Brazilian culture, which shows how the bond to the African continent has been preserved throughout the centuries. This is expressed through different cultural traditions such as the spiritual practice of Candomble or Capoeira dance.

The cultural practices often come with a deeper meaning related to the African culture and the fight for freedom of Black Brazilians. One example is how Capoeira was invented by formerly enslaved people to protect and free themselves from oppression.

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Bahia's annual carnival for example is a symbol of Afro Brazilian strength and expression. It represents diverse cultural elements united as well as the Afro Brazilian resistance against underrepresentation and discrimination in Brazil. The carnival also shows how African culture continues to be an inspiration for the empowerment of the Black identity within the Afro Brazilian community.

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