Afro Brazilian Academy
Africa is one of the central places that gave birth to highly developed cultures and civilizations. Unfortunately, only a small portion of that cultural and artistic diversity has reached us today.
With the European colonization of the different parts of Africa, much of the inherent unique traditions and their knowledge have been destroyed, and nowadays we find only partial manifestation of the potential of the African people formed mainly through the external pressure of the contemporary world.
This makes it hard to classify African esoteric traditions and practices into purely theoretical or applied, artistic or martial. The knowledge of Africa has found different expressions in a variety of aspects of human life and is defined to a large extent by the dissemination of the African slaves on the vast American continent.
INBI World uses the term African yoga as a concept that unifies the large diversity of arts and applied practices in particular that stem from the African tradition. The notion of “yoga” in this case does not relate to the Indian art, but rather serves as a general expression that synthesizes the various systems, exercises, practices, and arts directed towards external or internal self-improvement.
The most complete source for study of the cultural heritage of Africa that corresponds to the notion of “African yoga” is to be found in the system of knowledge of the Yoruba culture. People from that ethnos have gathered and classified the scattered knowledge of the religious beliefs of Africa, as well as of the different forms of applied arts, rituals and ceremonies, based on those beliefs.
The system of knowledge, shaped by the Yoruba culture is based on principles that reflect values common to all African people:
- preservation and development of the spirit and connection with higher powers;
- defense of one’s spiritual and physical energy from negative external influences and spirits;
- preservation of the collective power of the community (tribe);
- maintenance of communication with nature (interaction with the environment and its manifestations (animals, natural phenomena, plants etc.)).
This system aimed to gather the experience and knowledge of its predecessors into one unified structure that allowed preservation of the overall experience in a time when African culture was threatened by European conquest and enslavement.
In the period when indigenous African cultures (Nok, Mer?e, Aksum, Igbo, Ile-Ife and others) were unique and self-sufficient formations, they all had their own symbols and cosmological notions. Gradually, they all became unified under one principle that allowed the formation of a single system of knowledge and belief. This principle was rhythm.
According to the definitions found in African beliefs and legends, rhythm is the power of breath, which defines one’s life activity. Entering into contact with rhythm, one begins to accumulate a certain substance that strengthens his feelings and sensations, thus defining the quality of life as a whole.
Rhythm is power, and it helps the bearer of African tradition to connect the body in a single knot of feelings and achieve internal pulsation that moves the body while keeping the mind in a state of constant internal contemplation.
Rhythm is the “key” that unlocks many of the secrets of Africa; it is the “language” which many of the people of that continent used to communicate among themselves.
The notion of “rhythm” has been studied and represented most deeply and consistently by the Ifa culture and was later transferred to the beliefs of the Yoruba.
Besides enriching the inner realm of sensations and self-awareness, the most important role of rhythm is to connect with Axe – the universal cosmic power. For African people Axe is the source that turns everything into movement. It looks at life as a dynamic system based on energy which is in a state of constant movement and transformation.
The secret of the phenomenon of African culture lies in the fact that it doesn’t have a beginning – and, consequently, cannot have and end as well. As long as it has spirit, power and energy, it can have an infinite number of names, but its roots will always stem from the universal rhythm – Axe.
INBI AFRO-BRAZILIAN ACADEMY
Depending on the geographical distribution of the development, INBI World defines the following categories of African knowledge and trends from around the world:
- Afro-Brazilian line (encompasses the practices and traditions of contemporary Brazil and its neighboring countries);
- Afro-Cuban line (includes the arts and traditions, developing on the territories of Cuba);
- Afro-Caribbean line (includes the traditions of the countries of the Caribbean region);
- Afro-American line (encompasses practices and traditions, developing on the territory of the USA).
Among the arts that pertain to the different lines, there are musical waves (rap, blues, jazz and reggae), dances (mambo, samba, rumba etc.) and even martial techniques (capoeira).
The scope of the African programs of INBI World includes practices, thematic events and festivals, as well as research tours and travels to places connected with the roots of African tradition.
This line most actively represents: capoeira, Brazilian dances, and Afro-Brazilian Orisha dances, aiming at development of the Axe spirit.