One educational comic book is coming in 2018 and it will teach us more about the intricate dynamics of Afro-Brazilian religions. Designer Hugo Canuto has created a comic book inspired by the mythology of the Orishas, gods and goddesses worshiped in Afro Brazilian religions like Candomblé and Umbanda.
Titled "Tales of the Orishas," the comics follow these divine entities as they face adventures and challenges in order to fulfill their great duty: bringing peace and justice to their community.
What may be most notable about this book, is its hitting on the religious dictatorship that is still prevalent in Brazil. For many Afro-Brazilians, it's "say you're Catholic or say nothing". Canuto, a native of Bahia, the Brazilian state with the largest number of self-declared black people outside Africa, has been curious about the Orisha culture since he was a kid. He first read “African Legends of the Orishas”, book by French photographer and ethnologist Pierre Verger.
Today, the former architect believes that “Tales of the Orishas” is a shout out of resistance that can help to deconstruct some stigmas.
According to data released by the Federal Bureau of Human Rights, the crime rate related to religious intolerance against Afro Brazilian creeds has grown 36.5% since 2016. Rio de Janeiro’s state recorded 32 cases of attacks in the last three months. In Bahia, 98 cases occurred in the last 4 years. São Paulo saw 27 violence acts against Afro Brazilian religious centers this year.
“This work aims to show that all these stories are part of who we are. Brazil’s pillars are based on this millennial culture that came with our African ancestors," Canuto declares.
What an amazing learning tool for those interested in Afro-Brazilian culture as well as a reflective light of the oppression that still happens today. We'll be on the lookout for "Tales of the Orishas" to hit the shelves.