Mestre Nenel

nenelManoel Nascimento Machado (Mestre Nenel), was born on September 26, 1960 in the city of Salvador da Bahia. The son of Manoel dos Reis Machado (Mestre Bimba) – creator of Capoeira Regional – and Berenice da Conceição Nascimento, he was raised by Alice Maria da Cruz (known as Mãe Alice). As a young child, Nenel spent many of his days in his father’s capoeira school, the Centro de Cultural Física Regional. It was here that he took his first steps in capoeira, graduating in 1967 with many of his brothers. Mestre Bimba had begun to use capoeira in a way that differed dramatically from his predecessors: he saw it as an educational practice that could help children become respected adults with a place in society. This idea was revolutionary at a time when capoeira was equated with a poor, marginalized population of predominately black men. Mestre Bimba’s example was followed by many others who grasped its educational potential, and capoeira enjoyed a surge of popularity as it was brought into the larger society. In 1972, Mestre Bimba and his family moved to the city of Goiânia in the state of Goiás. This move was to the great sorrow of many Bahians who had considered Mestre Bimba a national hero. Mestre Bimba died in Goiânia on Feburary 5, 1974. Although some of his former students continued teaching in Brazil and abroad, they had begun to follow their own capoeira paths, adapting and changing Mestre Bimba’s Capoeira Regional to suit their own needs. Mestre Bimba’s work was not taken on by anyone for a long time. Nenel, like many of his brothers and sisters, worked in many different occupations trying to make ends meet. Then, in 1975, he heard the call of capoeira. Despite many difficulties, Nenel moved to Brasília where he founded his first academy, the Associação de Capoeira  Mestre Bimba Filho. Mestre Nenel returned to Bahia in September of 1977 and began competing in capoeira championships, as well as playing street capoeira and performing in folkloric shows, even as he continued working various jobs. Then, in 1984, he was given the job of administering classes at Mestre Moise Sucuiba’s academy. During those two years, his desire to found a new academy entirely committed to the preservation and promotion of his father’s work was born.  This gave new meaning to his life.  His vision finally became reality when, on June 10, 1986, he founded the Associação de Capoeira Filhos de Bimba based in the Fitness Academy of Genivaldo Garcia, neighbourhood of Amaralina. He later changed the name to Filhos de Bimba Escola de Capoeira because he felt the word Escola (School) made more sense to his work than Association.    In 1989, Nenel was invited to participate in an educational project at the School of Arts and Trades, where he transferred the Filhos de Bimba school. Many of Mestre Bimba’s old students began rallying around him, answering his invitation to work together to preserve Bimba’s Capoeira Regional. Mestre Nenel’s work began to take off as he gained recognition both in Brazil and abroad as a reference for Capoeira Regional. 301118_151998898271892_1445006046_n Mestre Nenel is a founding member and currently presiding over the Fundação Mestre Bimba, which was created on November 30, 1994. A skilled berimbau player, he offers music courses with the aim of preserving much of the rich musical inheritance of Capoeira Regional, an inheritance which was in the process of being lost. Through the creation of various social projects aimed and children and adolescents, such as the Projeto Capoerê, in which children from poor neighbourhoods are offered free capoeira classes, Mestre Nenel has continued the educational work begun by his father. Many of his current professors, now young men and women, were once students of the Projeto Capoerê. They continue Mestre Bimba’s teachings and the message of hope and dignity.

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