Salvador invests BRL 15 million to enhance black identity through Afrotourism


With a population composed of approximately 80% of black people, according to the IBGE, the City Hall of Salvador has just launched a plan to recognize this human value and, with a contribution of R$ 15 million from the Inter-American Development Bank, it will promote actions in the called Afrotourism.

Part of the amount —R$ 9 million— is being invested in the Salvador Capital Afro program, which involves, in addition to infrastructure and logistics for tourism from a black perspective, support for the work of local Afro-entrepreneurs.

“In eight months, 658 people were heard who directly participated in the construction of this plan”, says Simone Costa, manager of business and tourist actions in Salvador.

The plan foresees to stimulate cultural, religious, artistic and economic activities, such as dance, art, literature, music, fashion, gastronomy and sport, including people who are already part of the Afro identity of the city.

“The city is and has always been Afro, we are not creating or presenting it as something new. Our music is Afro, our dance is Afro, our people are Afro. The strategy is to recognize itself as such and position itself before the national market and international market with this destination”, says Simone.

The first step of the program was to make a diagnosis of the demands of the local community, mainly involving Afro-entrepreneurs. One of the highlighted points was the low insertion in the market. Through the AfroBizz platform, the city began to add Afro-entrepreneurs, with a kind of showcase for the presentation of products and services.

“Today we have 1,325 Afro-entrepreneurs registered on the platform. Our goal, by the end of the year, is to reach 2,500. But this platform will continue to run through the city hall.”, says the manager.

It was through the platform that businesswoman Danielle Salles, 42, boosted her company of frozen Bahian delicacies. She participated in three AfroBizz actions and is starting to reap the rewards.

“One of the actions was for export, and I’m already negotiating to export a ton of delicacies.”

The businesswoman has a physical structure, a foodbike and a board called Rainha do Dendê. Today it has three employees, but says that in high season, between November and February, it has ten.

“History says that I was chosen by my ancestors. My grandmother is from Bahia acarajé, she is 90 years old. She had 12 children and five are conventional from Bahia. , who studied tourism, law and tax auditing before turning to cooking five years ago.

The craft of the baianas do acarajé, intangible cultural heritage of the city, is also part of the action plan of the Salvador Capital Afro program. In November, according to the city hall, the first census of Bahian women carried out in Salvador will be released. New equipment will also be delivered to the Bahian women.

Black money, an idea that aims to encourage black people to consume from other black people, was also thought of in the design of the plan, according to the city hall.

“It’s no use making this cultural recognition and tourism potential if we don’t make the economy of this money circulate among blacks”, says Simone.

Alan Soares, one of the founders of the Movimento Black Money digital hub, says that this stimulus will boost Salvador’s economy. However, it has caveats.

“It cannot stop at the field of education of tools. The important thing is that the city, the prefecture can, at the end of the program, deliver the inputs so that the individual can prosper.”

Specifically linked to Afrotourism, some actions were carried out, such as Via Black, which aims to create or strengthen ten Afro-centered itineraries in the city of Salvador and 30 more visitation points.

According to the city hall, these places will be formatted and presented to the guides for commercialization and direct consumption.

André Carvalho is a partner in the Griô Experience, an initiative to promote black culture, reconstituting memories from walks through the Bahian capital, using Afrotourism as a tool.

A secondary school history teacher at the state network of Bahia, he understands that Afrotourism can be thought of as a pedagogical tool.

“I’ve been in the classroom since 2003 trying to promote Law 10.639, which tries to impose school responsibility in the way of working the history of Africa, of Africans, of Afro-descendants”, he says.

“Since 2019 I started taking these walks thinking about how to connect this historical heritage that we have. The museums, the streets, the monuments, the spaces.”

During all weekends in September and the first weekend in October, actions will be carried out in strategic territories. The first will be in Liberdade/Curuzu, then the historic center, Rio Vermelho, Itapuã and Ilha de Maré.

Religious intolerance

The Reference Center for Combating Racism and Religious Intolerance Nelson Mandela, a body linked to the Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial Equality of the State of Bahia, recorded 81 cases of racism and 37 of religious intolerance in the state in 2021.

In 2022, until July, there were 35 complaints of racism and 21 of intolerance. This large volume of complaints also maps out Salvador’s Afrotourism development plan.

According to Simone Costa, a project is being developed that aims to make a historical repositioning. “Start talking in a more realistic way all these issues that permeate religious intolerance, the racial issue and diversity,” she says.

“Many times disrespect happens due to lack of knowledge. So these symbolic barriers need to be broken so that there is an understanding”, he declares.

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