“Pastinha já foi à África / Pra mostrar capoeira do Brasil (Pastinha went to Africa / to show Brazilian capoeira).”
These words are taken from Triste Bahia, a song by Caetano Veloso, from the album Transa (1972). They refer to Vicente Pastinha, a master of capoeira, who in 1966 traveled to Dakar, where the First World Festival of Negro Arts (FESMAN) was held — an unprecedented cultural event, the like of which had never before taken place on African soil. Over the course of three weeks, more than 2,500 artists, musicians, academics, and writers came together in Dakar. The list of participants reads like a who’s who of the major figures in Black culture from the early to mid-twentieth century. The representatives came not only from the continent of Africa but also from Europe and the USA as well as Brazil, which was the only country from South America to feature at the festival. It had an ambitious aim, claiming at once to be the expression of and vehicle for a new society grappling with the promises of African independence. The project was based on the idea of Négritude, a philosophy proclaiming the power of “Black culture” on the global level. “For the defense and illustration of Négritude”: this is how the Senegalese president and poet Léopold Sédar Senghor solemnly characterized the project in his inaugural address.