'Moon With Egg II', (1992), by Mario Cravo Neto.

*By Maria Gabriela Saldanha

On this March 8, with the conservative advance that spreads hatred towards minorities, accounting for the intensification of the persecution of religions of African origin and for the extinction of rights conquered by women over the years, we would have a lot to learn from the priestesses of these religions about of womanhood and resistance, if we were open to their experiences and the symbolic richness of their ancestry.

Some very interesting references to rethink the autonomy of women in the world are present in the set of knowledge archived under the imaginary of Pombajira (“Pombagira”, in popular spelling). Often, well before any feminist discourse could reach these women, the knowledge transmitted orally in the context of their religious and community daily life was the only tools of survival.

As defined by Luiz Antonio Simas, historian and researcher of popular manifestations: “From the point of view of etymology, the word pombagira certainly derives from the Angolan-Congolese cults to the inquiries. One of the manifestations of the power of the streets in Central African cultures is the inquire Bombojiro, or bombojira, which for many scholars of Bantu cults is the feminine side of Aluvaia, Mavambo, the owner of crossroads, similar to Exu Yoruba and to Elegbara vodum of the fons. in Kimbundu, pambu-a-njila is the expression that designates the crossing of paths, the crossroads. mbombo, in kicongo, is gate. The gates are controlled by Exu".

So we have a form of womanhood available in the collective unconscious of different peoples that owns the paths. This is enough to keep alive the memory and the desire for a way of being a woman that breaks with the patriarchal confinement in the private dimension and the stereotype of femininity, perceiving herself physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually free to go everywhere. From this perspective, when we understand that Pombagiras rule the roads, perhaps we are speaking symbolically about women occupying all spaces; if they can also block passages, their “no” is definitive, so that any disturbance to it will obstruct the flow of life and collective interests; when we talk about crossroads (crossroads, options) we evoke a system of choices that contemplates women; when we relate such entities to the cemetery (world of the dead), which have their own streets and corners, we are highlighting the traffic in their own shadows, that is, knowing how to walk in ourselves, in our psychic labyrinths, attentive to the marks of the different forms of violence so that they do not condition our progress.

On the other hand, the vital force symbolized in the Pombagiras is that of full awareness of the body and sexuality not referenced in sin or in the culture of objectification/abuse, but in the quality of potency. This goes against all female socialization, since misogyny is a form of structural oppression built specifically on the body of the human being born a woman, who is castrated in many ways throughout life to correspond to the project of submission foreseen for him. on many levels. This implies saying that Pombagira restores to us the – non-negotiable – notion that the woman's body should belong only to her and that this is the fundamental condition for the paths to exist. The paths for the evolution of all of us, since the liberation of women leverages the whole community and guarantees the full development of the next generations.


*Maria Gabriela Saldanha is a writer and feminist activist.

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