By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Shortly after 7PM last night, the city of São Paulo announced the results from its samba parade competition. Samba school Acadêmicos do Tatuapé was crowned the city’s Carnival winner this year, earning the school its first ever Grupo Especial (Special Group) championship.
Although Acadêmicos do Tatuapé began in 1952, its win this year represents its first ever Grupo Especial win, having remained in the league for the last five consecutive years and coming withing grasp of victory as last year’s paulista vice-champion.
Acadêmicos of Tatuapé’s execution of their samba enredo (plot) gave them the upper hand over this year’s runners-up, Dragões da Real. Tatuapé’s performance featured approximately 3,200 dancers and lasted 61 minutes, making it just four minutes shy of the performance time limit, and paid tribute to the African country of Zimbabwe.
The enredo, entitled ‘Mãe-África conta a sua história: Do Berço Sagrado da Humanidade à Terra Abençoada do Grande Zimbawe!’ (Mother Africa tells her story: from the Sacred Cradle of Humanity to the Blessed Earth of Great Zimbabwe), featured representations of historic African kingdoms and diverse religious beliefs including Candomblé, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam.
The results were announced at 7.15 PM last night in São Paulo, met with cheers from the samba school and its fans. Speaking to Brazilian news agency EBC, the school’s president Eduardo dos Santos voiced his elation at the victory.
“It took us 64 years to make this party here,” he said. “For us it is always harder and sweaty, but it is worth it. This is a time of great happiness for us.”
The school’s front commission led the parade, with fourteen warriors protecting a Baobab tree, a symbol of strength and resistance among Africa’s citizens. The first float showed Africa as the birthplace of humanity, followed by representations of the African kingdoms of Egypt, Mali, Songhai, Yoruba, Benin and Morocco.
Africa’s artistic developments and expressions were also honored in the choreography and costumes, from painting and sculpture to poetry, literature and music. Tatuapé’s final float paid tribute to Zimbabwean history, beginning with the Monomotapa Empire and finishing with the present day.
Results from São Paulo’s second league – known as Série A or Access Group – competition were also announced last night. Winning school X-9, from the city’s northern region, won the league with an enredo paying tribute to the artist Inos Corradin.
The win will see X-9 return to the Grupo Especial competition in São Paulo next year. The school fell down to the Série A league in last year’s competition, after twenty years of parading within the Grupo Especial.
The results from Rio de Janeiro’s samba parade competition will be announced later on today, Wednesday March 1st. With multiple accidents harming the chances of four schools in Rio’s Grupo Especial, with Beija-Flor and Mangueira as the current favorites to win the championship.