Donald Trump & Samba in the White House

Donald Trump infamously referred to Haiti and “African countries” as “shithole countries”. For anybody who might be inclined to argue that a lot of people in those countries might tend to agree with the appellation, the thrust of what he said was “Why are we having all these people (emphasis mine) from shithole countries come here?” In this sense the term “shithole” is a metaphoric (and maybe not even that) stench imbuing the common people of these places, the ones who might wish to emigrate to the United States in order to have a chance at improving their lives and the lives of their children.

Well I’m proud to have lived for twenty-six years in a place that Trump would almost certainly characterize as shithole: the Brazilian Nordeste (Northeast), of which Bahia forms a part. Rather than I defend the place, I’ll let the capable Brazilians do it themselves…in an unfortunately imaginary (and hopefully to be someday realized) scenario where samba has been danced in the White House.

The contrast between the ugliness which emanates from Trump’s mouth and the song emanating from those below speaks…sings!…for itself.

This is Brasil Pandeiro, by Assis Valente of Santo Amaro, Bahia. Lyrics and translations follow the splendidly where-else-but-Brazil clip which begins with our dear friend Bule Bule sitting in the Largo do Cruzeiro around the corner from Cana Brava Records, where I, on a gentle August afternoon, type these words…

Chegou a hora dessa gente bronzeada mostrar seu valor
Eu fui na Penha, fui pedir ao Padroeiro para me ajudar

The time has arrived for these bronzed people to show their value
I went to Penha (a church), to ask my patron saint to help me

Salve o Morro do Vintém, Pendura Saia eu quero ver
Eu quero ver o Tio Sam tocar pandeiro para o mundo sambar

Save the hill/neighborhood of Vintém, Pendura Saia (another hill/neighborhood)
I want to see I want to see
Uncle Sam play pandeiro (tambourine) for the whole world to samba

O Tio Sam está querendo conhecer a nossa batucada
Anda dizendo que o molho da baiana melhorou seu prato

Uncle Sam is wanting to get know our drumming
He’s going around saying that the Bahiana’s sauce has improved his food

Vai entrar no cuzcuz, acarajé e abará
Na Casa Branca já dançou a batucada de Ioiô, Iaiá

He’s going for cuzcuz, acarajá and abará (typical Afro-Bahian foodstuffs)
In the White House they’ve already danced (to) the drumming of Yoyô, Yayá
(archaic Afro-Brazilian terms of respect for a man and a woman)

Brasil, esquentai vossos pandeiros
Iluminai os terreiros que nós queremos sambar

Brazil, heat up our pandeiros
Light up our terreiros (places of candomblé, the Afro-Bahian religion) because we want to samba

Há quem sambe diferente noutras terras, noutra gente
Num batuque de matar

There are others who samba differently in other lands, other people
With killer drumming

Batucada, batucada, reunir nossos valores
Pastorinhas e cantores
Expressão que não tem par, ó meu Brasil

Drumming, drumming, bring together our values
Pastorinhas (women who parade and sing during Carnival) and singers

Brasil, esquentai vossos pandeiros
Iluminai os terreiros que nós queremos sambar
Ô, ô, sambar, iêiê, sambar…

Brazil, heat up our pandeiros
Light up our terreiros because we want to samba
Oh, oh, to samba, yeah, yeah, to samba…

Queremos sambar, Ioiô, queremos sambar, Iaiá

We want to samba Yoyô, we want to samba, Yayá