Text: Frederico Bomsucesso Translation: João Vitor Almeida

Text: Frederico Bomsucesso
Translation: João Vitor Almeida

I had never seen such excitement as I did in a City Council meeting in special session, with politicians of all colors, activists, neighborhood residents and NGOs, discussing what is right and fair. People involved with politics find reasons to do anything, to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, to pay homage to partners and even to find the right day to baptize and name the day to conserve our heritage.

I didn’t know that there was a Heritage Day, but there is one in Bahia, and when people talk about it, they are talking about the day of the Heritage, of the Baianas de acarajé (Bahian ladies who sell acarajés), of the environment, and it soon becomes business, where the rubber meets the road and things get ugly. The council didn’t take long to start, but the discussions left their marks for eternity. Well, to talk about eternity and salvation is the same as yakety-yak, in this world of politicians. There is a “Messiah” in the government, who hasn’t been able to perform any miracles as of yet, an environment minister who looks more like a lemur, with big round eyes, that spies and then rushes back to its hole, a governor who, having his Back turned, is always missing, and a very small man, who loves to cut down trees and build stuff.

That’s why feathers are flying around the white sands of the Abaeté lagoon. I’m only saying what I saw, it’s not a lie, because this people enjoy ejó (gossip) and they talk in a blue streak about what they don’t know, let alone what they do know.

So many people were invited to this session that the chamber was jammed. At first, His Excellency the Governor said that he wouldn’t get involved in this argument so as not to stain the end of his term, that he was a very proud son of the president of the Liberdade Washerwomen Union, and that the water they used came from “Queimadinho”, which is not, therefore, surrounded by white sand, but rather by toads and horseflies.

-I leave this matter to the academy, where the professor, architect and historian of the art of describing cities, Paulo Dormindo, who’s a friend of mine, will regenerate that access and the surrounding areas, improving the life of the entire local population. So said His Excellency, already blushing, showing in his face the colors of his party.

In a simple way, Madam Cilene Davares, Director of Heritage of the Matos Foundation, mellifluously, replied that heritage is taking ownership and that the community should fight, because the government does not care. Scientists and researchers have already been summoned to carry out technical studies and it proved that there is a project at a lower price and little environmental impact in terms of sanitary sewage.

At once, the people started tearing apart the situation. – Is it sewage we are taking about? Asked the master’s student Alvina Rodrigues, stating that everything should be addressed in its due time, but that she was there to talk about the construction of the Abaeté pumping station and its impact on the local population. As fast as frying palm oil, Ms. Lita dos Santos, representative of the Bahianas and the Afro-Brazilian condiments, put her hands on the hips, and with a powerful voice, as if she had swallowed a bird that got stuck in her throat, spoke: was I called here to talk about acarajé or pumping stations? Will there be a lookout?

Fidgeting as if her skin was itching, Ms. Mariana of the Quilombo Quimgona, which is in the vicinity of the Park, or rather, the environmental protection area (APA) of Abaeté, uttered loud and clear that her Quilombo, since the XVII century, would throw everything away into the Pitanga River, and the fishes would eat the food scraps, the people would eat the fishes, generating organic products, certified by the Bahia Azul project.

The Capoeira master Duda, present at the meeting holding his berimbau with one hand, and tying his capoeira cord with the other, said he was there to sweep kick those who liked chattering. Would that be the people from IPAC or Conder?

Immediately, Mr. Jonas Carlos, director of IPAC, looking like a stenographer who had taken many notes and similarly to someone who shies away from a syringe or covers their behind, clarified that the situation was a lot more nuanced and made himself available and also called his colleague, some Pedro Serra, who nagged stating all of that was a crime and he was going to denounce it in Brasília, because he understood the area in question was protected.

-Protected by whom? Jumped the city councilor Mario Mendes, the protector of the green world, of the weak and oppressed, and excitedly began to give his speech, in hopes to do something good for this people, who would say he was the lesser voted candidate and there was always trouble with that. Even his position in the middle of the section was strategic, for he was seated, on the right side, besides Ms. Cilene Damaris, and, on the left side, besides the people-of-saint with the afro-indigenous people of Abaeté.

Rumor has it he’s scared to death of the “palm oil people” (the people involved with Afro-Brazilian practices), but anything goes in politics. Heads are rolling in the chambers and feathers are flying at the lagoon.

Out of the blue, a voice is heard in the middle of the session saying that they had a psycographed letter inspired by Caymmi, from the erraticity, correcting under the molds of political correctness that Abaeté was a lagoon deprived of color, surrounded by white, snow-colored sand, and that Calazans Neto warned he would no longer paint neither goats nor dunes, and that Jorge Amado sent his regards and wishes of good luck for having left Itapuã at the right time. The only one who didn’t want to speak was Vinicius, for he was busy in his hammock drinking whiskey, all that in a message channelled by the Spiritualist Center Sun, Moon, Lagoon and Fraternity.

The pastor Everaldo with his sister in Christ Laiane said that the lagoon was sacred, that it had once been known as Jericho well, that our Father in Heaven found a woman of low life washing clothes on the white sands around the well and that after all that it was known as the Abaeté Lagoon, registered in the last page of the bible. Amen! Amen, Lord, I say on my knees. I wonder if this will go unnoticed! The people want and don’t want a pumping station and they don’t want a lookout. However, the way things are going, I don’t know where that damn thing is going to be, if either high or low, because it’s cheaper in the low part and the Government doesn’t give a damn about it. They say they have technical and scientific studies and that fools these people easily.

Rising like Oya, in a day of celebration, the attorney-at-law, Maria Alice, wearing all white, opened her briefcase and pulled out a green and yellow book, starting to follow with her fingertips the articles and paragraphs of the Constitution.

There you go, it caused a commotion. They stirred up a hornet’s nest. She, as powerful as she is, surreptitiously said: Xangô, who is sitting in a stone, shall not let it happen. Abaeté is in a network, and this pumping station is something from he who has his Back turned and who loves building things in high places.

Maria Alice asked to speak once again, fixed her ojá (turban), one hand resting on the chest and the other in her bag, and gave a moving speech, touching everyone present. -It is stated in the Constitution that it is within the competencies of the Federal, State, District and Local level to protect Tangible and Intangible Heritage, as well as the cultural protection of historical heritage.

-The lagoon calls for help and soon it will become a well, just like that of Jericho. Soon we won’t be able to dive into its waters, something that is already happening to the people of Jesus, they get baptized in those waters and start scratching themselves, others, tourists, go for a walk in the dunes and get attacked by thugs, that leave them with nothing but their soul. So boasted Maria Alice. As if by magic, just like someone who casts a freezing spell (with pemba) to the audience, Mr. Pedro Serra, holding the microphone, says he’ll claim for God’s help in all of the terreiros of Bahia, all of the gospel Churches, in Brasília, in the Vatican, in the UM and even in the International Court of Justice.

In a second, the people-of-saint and the people who worship the forces of the forests, our evangelical brothers, the artists, the activists, the community of the quilombos, of the NGOs, of the academies, the people of Santo Daime, of ayahuasca, even those with a sarcastic tongue, including the one who writes this to vent, responded by shouting: “that’s it!”, leading politicians, driven mad by the capital, in their scams of illicit enrichment, to fake a smile and ask to go off on a tangent, dreading of a Bereguedê at the City Council in Salvador.

Now I tell you, don’t poke the bear, because this land is full of magic!