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SYNOPSIS. BLESS ME,CAPOEIRA.
A reminder of Black Orpheus, the 1959 film by Marcel Camus, BLESS ME CAPOEIRA is the story and journey of a black couple from 1959 when they mutually recognize each other and their
“choseness” during a carnival in Rio
and on the spot commit to realizing their destiny asbearers of indigenous freedom by the ancestral call to be a part of the indigenous struggle of Portugal's Overseas Province of Angola. It is in a time when most of post-independent Africa isgoing through turmoil, traumatized by civil unrests and marked by much touted narratives andrhetoric of the winds of change, hope and in the thick and throes of the Cold War. For Paulo andMaurelle, it was theirs to ensure an indigenous Angola and capoeira was their community culture.In Angola, the struggle ceremoniously came to an end in January 1975 when UNITA, the NationalUnion for the Total Independence of Angola, the Portuguese government, and MPLA, the PopularMovement for the Liberation of Angola and FNLA, the National Liberation Front of Angola signed anagreement, the Alvor
Agreement, which granted Angola independence, ending the war forindependence but and not surprisingly ushering in a series of major civil unrest and war.In Angola the couple has a son, who they affectionately call Camungerê, and Paulo, in charge of revolutionary fighters in the Angolan country-side, is an absent father. After four years, Maurelle,on hearing on the radio of a foiled coup-
d’état, and the relentless pursuit of her husband, she
embarks on a hurried and arduous escape from Angola back to Rio. Camungerê suffers a concussionduring the journey and thereon experience bouts of epilepsy. In Rio, Paulo finds Maurelle who bythen is ardent and will abandon the calling and the dedication to the struggle for the indigenousfreedom of Angola and so he places her in a convent as an ersatz nun. Despondent, a grieving Pauloself-exiles in Lisbon, Portugal, under a pseudonym, and there becomes the owner and manager of an apartment building, he takes care of and homeschools his son. Twice a day, on the plains, hededicates himself to wrestling with the spirits and the gods of dispossession and oppression.The story is narrated by the protagonist, Camungerê, who has a split personality; experiencing
himself as the son of Paulo but he is also Capoeira, an imaginary friend and his other half, ‘thecolonel’s son’
who often suffers bouts of epilepsy. Though Paulo the father of the protagonist, is thecolonel, Camungerê/Capoeira is unaware of t
his and it is when Paulo’s woman
, Maurelle, arrives,that Camungerê at age seventeen, begins to wonder, begins to remember and then to gropetowards the big picture, his true and full identity and the significance of his birth and life.Chiefly relying on the technique and spirit of capoeira, the American form of the community martialarts developed by Africans in the Americas and in reaction to and in spite of the process of theAmericas itself, in reaction to and in spite of slavery, community, cultural and spiritual dispossessionand repression, BLESS ME, CAPOEIRA, focuses on the character of Paulo and is narrated byCamungerê who has just turned eighteen. The story comes alive by strains of memories of storiestold and retold, and those not told, thos
e also by his father and his father’s comrades and
capoeiristas in Rio, also choruses and biblical and traditional African religious beliefs and practices.