By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In the early hours of Monday, March 4th, samba school G.R.E.S. Acadêmicos do Salgueiro will compete in the Grupo Especial with their parade scheduled to begin at 12:30 AM. The group will present their ‘samba enredo’ (thematic samba composition) entitled, ‘Xangô,’ which will be a tribute to the deity of the same name, who is revered in the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé.
This year, Salgueiro will be parading to the story of ‘Xangô,’ one of the gods of Brazil’s Candomblé religion and the spiritual patron of the school. Historically one of the best samba schools in the competition, 2019 will mark ten years since Salgueiro last claimed the championship.
2018 saw them finish third with a well-received parade dedicated to the strength of black women in Brazil. With much of the same team as last year, including Carnavalesco (Carnival designer) Alex de Souza, the school will be hoping to finish even higher in 2019 and perhaps even reclaim the top spot.
Their 2019 song has been written by Demá Chagas, Marcelo Mota, Renato Galante, Fred Camacho, Leonardo Gallo, Getúlio Coelho and Vanderlei Sena and Francisco Aquino. And it will be sung by Emerson Dias and Quinho.
De Souza was recently asked by O Globo why the school chose this particular parade for 2019. He says, “This is an orixá (deity) that has always been honored by our school. The beat of the school drum was also for him. And for decades Salgueiro has been closely tied with Xangô. This relation of the orixá with our school will also be addressed during the parade.”
He explains how the parade will be divided into parts, showing the story of Xangô as a man, who probably lived around the year 1400 AD in what is now known as Nigeria, and who was the king of the city of Oyo. Then they will show him as a worshiped entity. And also they will show his journey to Brazil as slaves hid their worship of Xangô in Catholic images, such as St. Jeronimo, St. John the Baptist, St. Peter and other saints.
They school will also compare the image of Xangô as a deity that represents justice with the current members of the supreme court in Brazil, adding a political flavor to the parade.
The school was founded in 1953 in Morro do Salgueiro, in the Andaraí neighborhood of Rio’s Tijuca district, in Zona Norte. Since its debut in 1954, Salgueiro has made its name as one of the most traditional schools, as well as for its promotion of Afro-Brazilian history and culture.