(Un)Masking the Afro-Carnival Organization

  • Niyi Afolabi
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


This chapter offers a dispassionate critique of Ilê Aiyê in the context of 40 years of its existence, which provides ample time to assess its accomplishments, limitations, and prognosis for the future. From the directorship to the teachers and the general workers, an invisible hierarchy seems to be in place in Brazil that lets everyone know what they are supposed to do without crossing the barriers of authority or delegation, or incurring accusations of insubordination. A rehearsal had just taken place on December 10, 2010 in preparation for the 2011 Carnival and questionnaires had been distributed by this writer to the target sample of 60 member-workers on the eve of the rehearsal with the hope of collecting the data the following week, after the event had been analyzed and the participants had rested. This chapter further analyzes the dynamics of empowerment within and among the different sectors of the organization and how such an informal yet structured setting is perceived by those on the outside, especially the immediate community of Curuzu and Liberdade. While the target group had difficulty understanding what I meant by “empowerment” as translated on the questionnaire into Portuguese as “empoderamento,” the upper management understood this as meaning self-fulfillment but questioned my original project title in relation to empowerment (“Carnival of Agency”) since the general worker might not understand the terminology.
Figure 8.1

Directors of Ilê Aiyê


Soccer Player High School Diploma General Worker Security Guard Strategic Partnership 


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© Niyi Afolabi 2016

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  • Niyi Afolabi

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