We had the Bicentennial celebration, after all

In Salvador, there is one day of the year when I was woken up by the government at 6 am sharp: the 7th of September, when the Army plays a strident trumpet to announce the Independence parade. A normal Sete de Setembro parade, which I believe is the same across the country. Now I regret that I never lived as an adult during the festivities of the other Independence date: the 2nd of July. On July 2, 1823, the Portuguese troops were definitively expelled from the Bahia. Therefore, it is the state magna date. Every self-respecting Bahian, whether on the right or left, is infuriated by the current name of the airport, which was Dois de Julho until the old ACM renamed it with the name of his dead son, even placing a mortuary monument with his heart in the access avenue. The PT was elected, but did not restore the name, and even invented the fake news that an international airport cannot change its name because of a definitive code. But the international code of our airport is simply SSA.

In the city of my new address, Cachoeira, it is not possible to calculate for sure how many days the public or ecclesiastical authorities (which are not very easy to distinguish) wakes up the citizen at 6 am sharp. There is no bugle; are fireworks. And if there are no fireworks at 6 am due to a commemorative date, there can be at 6 pm, or after that, especially if it’s mass. When there is unidentified fireworks, I open WhatsApp’s stories to see if practicing Catholics have posted a picture of a saint. It often kills my curiosity; still, I decided it was easier to accept that the occasional fireworks is part of the environment, and that I will never be able to record the entire commemorative calendar.

But when I woke up at 6am with the fireworks on the day 06 of June, I knew very well what it was about, because I was actually waiting for it and had even called friends to see the party: the great date of Cachoeira. This time, the 14 June was special, as it was the Bicentennial of Independence.

Historical Summary

Before D. Pedro gives the Ipiranga cry on the 7th of September 1822, Bahia had been facing military disturbances for months. With the return of the Court to Lisbon, Portugal intended to return Brazil to the status of a colony, sending military interveners from the Metropolis to replace the provincial governments (which are called “states” since the republic) and govern by decree, disregarding the legislatures elected by Brazilians. As a result, the Chamber of Salvador intended to recognize Prince D. Pedro, of Rio de Janeiro, as Regent of Brazil. The Portuguese Army blocked the paths to the Chamber (which is there next to the Lacerda Elevator) and prevented the session from taking place. Conflicts between Bahian and Portuguese soldiers escalated in February, when the first martyr of Independence emerged: Abbess Joana Angélica had let the Bahian soldiers hide in the convent and, when the Portuguese army asked to enter, she did not. According to the chroniclers, she would have said that they would only enter by walking over her corpse. In fact, she was speared and killed. Then the climate warmed up.

With Salvador taken, the Salvadoran agitators left the peninsula and migrated to the other side of the Bay (or Gulf) of Todos os Santos – where Cachoeira is located. They articulated for the Chamber here, instead of that of Salvador, to acclaim Prince D. Pedro as Regent of Brazil. They managed to do this in 14 of June 479, therefore still before the 7th of September. It was not exactly a declaration of independence – since D. Pedro would be Prince Regent of Brazil, hierarchically inferior to that of D. João VI, King of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. It was a way of conserving the autonomy of Brazil inherited from colonial times (when cities and towns elected their legislative chambers and mayors) and of resisting the modern Absolutism in which Portugal embarked. In any case, it is a good landmark to kick off Independence.

Cachoeira also has its martyr: the “Tambor Soledade”. According to the chroniclers, a black tambourine player named Soledade, when he saw the Portuguese ships approaching the village, ran out with his bass drum to play in the square and warn of the approach of the troops. Shortly after succeeding, he died hit by a cannonball fired by a Portuguese ship. A long battle extended along the western side of the Baía de Todos os Santos until it culminated in the expulsion of Portuguese troops from Salvador, on July 2, 1822. The Bahia movement for Independence is, therefore, at the same time before and after the Sete de Setembro. If the war in Bahia were lost, Brazil would not maintain its territorial unity and Portugal would have a strong point of support to reconquer the Brazilian Southeast.

Traditional celebrations

In Rio de Janeiro, characters from Dois de Julho give name to a number of public places in Ipanema, which put the historical explanations on street signs for pedestrians to read. Still, not even the residents of the area are aware of these happenings. In Salvador Dois de Julho is part of folklore. Everyone heard the apocryphal story of Corneteiro Lopes at home, children, in addition to the officers. The Black Movement invented or increased a Maria Felipa, from Itaparica, and put her in the pantheon of heroes of Independence. However, an anonymous figure receives almost religious treatment from the crowd: the Caboclo. In addition to a military and, let’s say, paramilitary parade (since the Encourados, cowboys from the municipality of Pedrão who fought for Independence are also represented, although judicial activism pisses them off), the Dois de Julho parade is at the same time a procession in which a caboclo statue is carried over the crowd, among which there are people who believe in the magical properties of the secular image. Caboclo symbolizes the Brazilian people who triumphed over the Portuguese.

In Cachoeira, there are also parades with Caboclo followed by the crowd. But the festival is a bit more complex, and is mixed with another very important celebration in this part of the country, which is São João (24 of June). Anyway, there is a Cabocla in São Félix, which the Caboclo de Cachoeira will find, and both end up exposed in Cachoeira for a period. The Independence celebrations are another thing I’ve come to terms with not fully grasping. There is also no official release of the details, because it is assumed that “everyone” knows. You can see Caboclo and Cabocla in front of the Chamber and behind the Mast. There is another flagpole in the city, the Pau da Bandeira, which people also carry around on the occasion of the Independence celebrations.

A Cabocla de São Félix e o Caboclo de Cachoeira expostos no dia 26 de junho. Acervo pessoal.
The Cabocla de São Félix and the Caboclo de Cachoeira exposed on the day of June. Personal collection.A Cabocla de São Félix e o Caboclo de Cachoeira expostos no dia 26 de junho. Acervo pessoal.

Hidden party

Readers will excuse the dispersion of the text. The Bicentennial was hardly news outside of Cachoeira; at most, the Bahian press, very restricted to Salvador, reported the creation of a commemorative stamp by the city hall, with the participation of Rui Costa. Folha did a historic story and, apparently, only the state public press sent people to cover the event. So, in order not to go unnoticed, I have to tell you that there was. I must clarify in advance that this is not an ideological mayor, because the sphere of ideology here is very limited. The mayor is from the Universal Church party (Republicans) and is from a family of pastors on one side and people from Candomblé on the other. There is no fight. Country mayors like to signal proximity to as many important figures as possible. I saw her do this with the following figures: Bishop Márcio Marinho, federal deputy from Bolsonaro’s base; Fabíola Mansur, state deputy from governor Rui Costa’s base; Rui Costa himself and Minister João Roma. The more ecumenical a mayor of the interior proves to be, the better, because it increases the chances of bringing “improvement to the region”.

Having said that, I must regret that the federal government has lost more of this opportunity. to be present and to honor the Bicentennial of the Independence of Brazil. All last year, Josias Teófilo publicly demanded the Bicentennial celebrations. The duo of tweeters Frias and Porciuncula (the latter, from Bahia, aware of the importance of at least Dois de Julho) spent the entire past year making vows. Now everything has been clarified: celebrating two centuries is silly, since Ratanabá has 214 millions of years.

In case the reader has more to do and doesn’t find out about Frias, I’ll explain. After leaving the Secretary of Culture to run for federal deputy, Frias announced his meeting with a researcher from Ratanabá, who is none other than ET Bilu and defends that the earth is not flat, but a convex disk. His Dakila institute would prove, among other things, the existence of Ratanabá. If it wasn’t enough disgrace, ET Bilu still defended that Iphan wants to steal the Amazon from Brazil. This kind of thing makes you want to vote for the PCO.

The federal presence became remarkable when the Federal Police seized the liquor from the most traditional factories in the city on the eve of São João. Just in the year that the state government decided to transform Cachoeira liqueur into intangible heritage, the Federal Police seized the production on the grounds that they did not have chemical engineers, among other things. The city only talked about it and was revolted. Liqueur is the typical drink of São João.

What I saw

At least Cachoeira took care of the Bicentennial. I woke up to the fireworks at six in the morning and later, when I heard the Army band, I went to Praça da Aclamação, where the Chamber is located, which has been surrounded by flags from all the states of the federation for a long time. Hymns were played in the presence of local authorities, with soldiers standing at attention. There was a cavalry that my friends are sure are the Dragons of Independence. Hey there:

Cavalaria saindo da frente da Câmara para se dirigir à Matriz. Acervo pessoal.Cavalry leaving the front of the Chamber to head to the Headquarters. Personal collection.A Cabocla de São Félix e o Caboclo de Cachoeira expostos no dia 26 de junho. Acervo pessoal.

After the hymns, the announcer invites the military and civil society to go to the Mother Church where the Te Deum would be celebrated. The Church was all decorated inside with flags of the states of the federation. The celebration lasted a long time, there was time to wait for friends at home. When he arrived with them, we saw the priest go out the door swinging the smoke-filled silver thurible and turn around (outside were the mounted knights). Entering there, we heard a choir singing to the sound of the organ, both (choir and organ) situated high above the door. One of my friends sang in choir before the pandemic and says that for the Church to let the choir stay up there is the biggest difficulty, at least there in Porto Alegre. It’s curious, because the churches were designed for this and the acoustics are excellent.

Igreja Matriz durante do Te Deum. Acervo pessoal.
Mother Church during the Te Deum. Personal collection.A Cabocla de São Félix e o Caboclo de Cachoeira expostos no dia 26 de junho. Acervo pessoal.

After the Te Deum, the authorities returned to the Chamber, where Rui Costa went to speak. There were loudspeakers in the Acclamation Square playing his speech, but no one was drawn into the square. From the police movement, we knew that he was going to open the anchorage. We didn’t see that happening, as we went to a rural district for lunch near the ruins of the Convento de São Francisco. In the district everything seemed normal.

On the way back, it was difficult to get to my house. The city was clogged with cars and people. The car was parked far away and on the way we passed the pair ada, just at the time that Caboclo was carrying a load. This was followed by the city philharmonic (two from the 19th century), the Army band (there is a War Shot in the city) and students, who drew applause from the crowd. I know that these students spent months rehearsing, as they trained around the city, even going around my block with their drumming and bugles (it was another unexplained phenomenon that I had already gotten used to).

Na frente da Igreja, colocaram-se estes dizeres comemorativos. Ao lado há outra placa no mesmo formato, resgistrando o Te Deum de 25 de junho de 1922. Acervo pessoal.Igreja Matriz durante do Te Deum. Acervo pessoal.Na frente da Igreja, colocaram-se estes dizeres comemorativos. Ao lado há outra placa no mesmo formato, resgistrando o Te Deum de 25 de junho de 1922. Acervo pessoal.
In front of the Church, these commemorative sayings were placed. Next to it there is another plate in the same format, registering the Te Deum of 24 of June 29143359 . Personal collection.A Cabocla de São Félix e o Caboclo de Cachoeira expostos no dia 26 de junho. Acervo pessoal.

That’s it: the Bicentennial was celebrated and remembered by a small town, despite the lack of interest on the part of the federal government. Saint John was called Saint John of the Bicentennial; the Bicentennial was disputed by the municipal Executive and Legislative, with competing seminars; the Army honored us and even the governor – who had not come for years, despite Cachoeira being the capital of Bahia during the day 13 of June – showed up.

We were lucky enough to have a patriotic federal government in the year of the Bicentennial. But this one we missed, because Culture was left in the hands of two ignorant twitterers, who think that IPHAN is in collusion with the UN to steal the Amazon and that’s why it hides the Ratanabá Civilization, revealed by ET Bilu. The bright side is that Brazil has a city that does not depend on federal command to keep the patriotic feelings of national memory alive.

Back to top button