Ribinha Maracanã, from the Boi de Maracanã de São Luís, speaks the DIARY

In an exclusive interview with DIÁRIO, Ribinha Maracanã, who is an ox warbler for the Boi de Maracanã, spoke about the group’s participation in São João de São Luís and in the June festivals, telling how tourists have fun “playing” in the presentations with the ox. † Checking out!

By Caroline Figueiredo – DT Reporter

On Thursday afternoon the DIÁRIO interviewed José Ribamar Algarve Mendesbetter known as Ribinha Maracansinger of the bumba group meu boi called “Boi de Maracanã” and member of PONTO BRa group of artists recording contemporary music from São Luís throughout Brazil and promoting regional culture and music.

With the Festa de São João in São Luís returning after two years without the traditional celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the expectation to receive and surprise tourists is high. THE DIARY asked Ribinha whether the “Boi de Maracanã” only occurs during the festivities in June or on other occasions: “We at the Boi de Maracanã perform at the official fairs of São Luís and Maranhão, which are owned by the state and the City Hall. We also participate in camps with our partners from private companies, camps in communities and also with other partner organizations that value our work.Sometimes we also work with municipalities in the interior, at events in the interior, both in Maranhão and other states , like São Paulo, in addition to Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Ceará, Brasília, Bahia, among others, everyone with the ox,” explained Ribinha.

Ribinha, from the Boi de Maracanã (Credit: Publicity SETUR-MA)

Ribinha added that the “Boi de Maracanã” also performs at conferences, weddings, anniversaries and other diverse events. He said the “Boi de Maracanã”, a folkloric and cultural group, is known as bumba meu-boi as “island accent” or “matracas accent”. Sotaque means “rhythm” and there are several in São Luís, according to Ribinha: island accent or rattlesnake accent, orchestral accent, zabumba accent, Baixada accent (which is the same as Pindaré) and even the coastal accent of the hand (also from the Baixada region). The difference between them is the tools used, which are different, and also the “clothes”, that is, the clothes of each. It is a true cultural wealth.

There are several instruments used by the bumba meu-boi groups in São Luís.
Instruments of the Meu-Boi bumba groups, in São Luís. (Credit: Publicity SETUR-MA).

Varied profile of members of the “Boi do Maracanã” and tourists have fun “playing” with the os

For those who haven’t seen a performance of bumba meu-boi yet, Ribinha explained that in addition to the tunes, which are the songs, there are the characters, which are the caboclos-real, also called “caboclo de pena”, in addition the Indians, also known as “tapuias”; there are also “rajados, which are the same caboclos de tape”, with tape hats; the singer, like Ribinha and others; the decorated bull, a capoeira character; the donkey; Nego Chico (Father Francisco), Cartirina’s husband, who makes the comedy of alto do boi, among other things.

Bumba Meu-Boi is one of the main characters of cultural performances in São Luís, especially during the June festivities.
Bumba Meu-Boi is one of the main characters of cultural performances in São Luís. (Credits: Published by SETUR-MA).

As for the profile of the members of the “Boi de Maracanã”, Ribinha said it is quite varied, as the bumba meu-boi groups were mainly founded in rural or metropolitan regions, further away from the capital Maranhão. São Luís has the capital and 3 municipalities (São José de Ribamar, Raposa and Paço do Lumiar).

“So in all these municipalities there are bumba meu-boi groups, and there are also groups from the countryside. When these groups were established, they were founded by people from the rural region, i.e. fishermen, farmers, people who worked on the land, in government service, in communities. So over time the groups grew, became known, became popular and today the ox ranges from the fisherman to the farmer, the judge, the lawyer, the engineer, the secretary, the mayor, the governor, the deputy, the police officer. †

“Today is the context, everyone likes it a lot, because it became popular. People really play, beat the rattle, beat the tambourine; college students, professors, students, everyone interacted. In addition, the number of tourists who also come to play with the ox. From June 23 to 30, which we consider the “high season”, tourists really come to play with the ox, beat the tambourine, the rattle; buy the shirt with pattern; and they participate a lot, especially on June 23, the day of the baptism of the ox (traditional and symbolic ritual, coming from the ancestors, where the priest “says”) the new ox,” explains Ribinha.

“Tourists really come to play with the ox, beat the tambourine, the rattle; buy the shirt with pattern; and participate in weight”

The future of folk traditions
Ribinha is the son of the late master Humberto de Maracanã, the famous composer of “toadas”, which are the songs, some of which are known for being recorded by various national artists, such as Maria Betânia, Alcione, Margarete Menezes, Skank, with the emphasis on the toada “Maranhão, my darling, my clod”.

When asked what the expectations are for the future of folkloric traditions, Ribinha said that “there will be a young audience. And you have to adapt. There are a number of people who actively participate in the “Boi de Maracanã” group every year, so whenever there is an event, Ribinha and the other participants in the group contact these “regular” people. As the generations pass, some characters leave, of course we manage to have replacements, others don’t. †

Music and playing instruments are important parts of Bumba Meu-Boi's performances.
Playing the instruments is an important part of Bumba Meu-Boi’s performances. (Credits: Published by SETUR-MA).

“We have improvisations, but the cantador do boi is a character who cannot improvise. The cantador do boi is a character who has poetry, voice, melody and the songs, which we call toada, should be within the standard expected by the group. The ox is a social work, where we rehearse, the whole community comes, and we have the support of the traditional festival which attracts many people not only from rural areas but also from the capital and metropolitan regions including tourists. That is why we want to continue to preserve cultural traditions. How will it be from now on? We never know tomorrow…we’re working to make it work. And we’ll see if whoever is going to ride is interested, if he has it in his head and heart,” he concluded.

For more information, visit the Boi de Maracan Instagram and the São Luís Tourist Office website.

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