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International Day of Living Together in Peace: The Capoeira Way

On the December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly declared 16th May as the International Day of Living Together in Peace. The purpose of celebrating this day is to encourage the international community to mobilize and join efforts to promote tolerance, solidarity, inclusion, and peace.

The main purpose, for which were created the United Nations, was to bring peace to the world – after the great human massacre of the Second World War. Before, as a result of WWI, was created the League of Nations, which ended in a big feature. To achieve this, international cooperation to solve problems of all kinds is key to the success of this objective. However, we are still far from true peaceful coexistence.

What can we do for peace?

To fulfil this aspiration, it is necessary to eliminate discrimination and intolerance in all its forms. Including those based on race, sex, language, ethnic, religion, political, social origin, economic status, physical disabilities etc. It looks like something impossible to achieve due to many reasons. For example, differences in how we see the world in different countries and societies. Also, we cannot pretend to be (the Western Society) the world police obeying the other regions to adopt rules which we consider are good. Still, it does not mean that we can do nothing.

Living together in peace consist of accepting differences and having the ability to listen, acknowledge, respect, and appreciate others. For International Day of Peace 2023., the theme is “End Racism. Build Peace”. The United Nations state that this is a date dedicated to strengthening the ideals of peace through a non-violent period of a 24-hour cease-fire. Unfortunatelly, it seems that won’t happen in countries that are suffering war nowadays.

Capoeira: An instrument for achieving peaceful coexistence worldwide

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines fighting techniques, acrobatics, and music. It originated as a form of resistance by African slaves in Brazil. But, now is practiced worldwide by people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

Contrary to what we can believe in a first sight, Capoeira as a tool can help to develop a more peaceful world. It is not the solution to the problem. But, it can be a little step to help in this utopic process. Capoeira is not just a form of physical exercise or entertainment. It is a powerful tool for building peaceful coexistence. Firstly, it is an activity that promotes inclusion and diversity. Capoeira practitioners come from different countries, religions, and cultures (as we can see in Amazonas). All of them are welcome in the rodas, where this art or sport is practiced (and in the rest of activities). In this sense, Capoeira can be seen as a metaphor for peaceful coexistence among peoples and cultures. Through this process, participants develop respect, empathy, and understanding for others.

Capoeira is also a discipline that emphasizes non-violence and respect for others. During rodas, participants must respect the rules and boundaries of their fellow players. This means that excessive force or intent to harm others is not allowed. Instead, practitioners must learn to control their movements and adapt to the energy of their fellow players. The practice of Capoeira encourages people to put aside their differences and to work towards a common goal. Rather than competing with one another.

In addition, Capoeira has a strong musical component that reinforces its message of peace and unity. This musical dimension of Capoeira not only adds an element of fun and joy to the practice, but creates a sense of community among participants.

Ultimately, Capoeira is a powerful instrument for building peaceful coexistence and promoting unity. By bringing people from different backgrounds together in an environment of respect and collaboration, Capoeira can help to create a world that is more peaceful.

Examples of Capoeira’s positive impact

All the things written above are not just beautiful words. There are many examples from different context and situations that show how Capoeira is an effective tool for these purposes. A program lead by UNICEF is a good example that shows how Capoeira is a powerful instrument facilitating the care and the rehabilitation of vulnerable children in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Moreover, other Capoeira programs have been implemented in other regions of the country, being a success.

Finally, we have the biggest example of Capoeira’s positive impact in our home. What workers and volunteers in Udruga Amazonas do. Even if they don’t notice it, is to create a more tolerant, diverse, nonviolence world, from their area of influence, our local community.

As we draw this article to a close, I would like to leave you with the following words from Capoeira practitioner Marija Davidovska that are particularly relevant to our topic:

“Every art form contributes to creating a peaceful world. Capoeira is a living art that allows you to express yourself through your body to the rhythm of music. With the potential to touch and inspire everyone who witnesses this art form that incorporates music, sport, dance, and culture”.