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 It was born as an afro style carnival group, later it would become a non-governmental organization - (NGO).


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Last update: 12/01/2017

By: Maria do Carmo Gomes de Andrade - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

The Olodum Cultural Group was founded by people who lived at Rua Maciel Cima, in the neighborhood of Pelourinho, Salvador, Bahia, on 25 April 1979. It was born as an afro style carnival group, later it would become a non-governmental organization - (NGO) from the Brazilian black movement recognized as a public service by the government of the State of Bahia.

Carnival groups in general are transitory, however the Olodum made a difference when after 1983, it started promoting cultural activities of social-community character, originating the Olodum Cultural Group, non-governmental organization (NGO) from the black Brazilian movement with the Bylaws registered and recognized by the government of Bahia as state and municipal public service headquarters.

The commercial success of the Olodum Cultural Group started with the recording of the first album Egito, Madagascar, in 1987. The subsequent albums were produced by the Group itself which was growing, day by day, in the artistic control of all their activities, such as shows and international tours. The group started being internationally known as an African-Brazilian percussion group. With their commercial success, the Olodum Cultural Group could set the necessary infrastructure for the operation of the Group, which occupied for a while a temporary office. Afterwards, they moved to a building in Pelourinho, restored with resources from the Olodum Cultural Group and according to the project from the architect Lina Bo Bardi (Achillina Bo, better known as Lina Bo Bardi, modernist Italian-Brazilian architect, who was married to the art critic Pietro Maria Bardi, and her best known work is the project of the MASP, São Paulo Art Museum).

In 1990, the Olodum Group took part in the song The Obvious Child, a track in the album The Rhythm of the Saints, by Paul Simon (North American folk and rock singer and composer) and also in the music clip that was recorded in the Pelourinho. This music clip was shown in many countries, opening the doors for the international success of Olodum which started recording with other well-known national and international musicians.

They recorded with Wayne Shorter, Michael Jackson, Jimmy Cliff, Herbie Hancock, Caetano Veloso, among others. With the repercussion, the Olodum Group could spread to the world their rhythms which cover African beats, reggae, samba and Latin rhythms.

Olodum is an NGO, a non-profit institution and, at the same time, it is a company. The Olodum Cultural Group is a central unit which commands the decisions through an Executive Board elected by direct vote to administrate for three years, and it may be reelected. From this central unit, two divisions appeared: the non-profit Olodum Foundation and the Olodum Group, a company from the group.

The Board counts on the support of the fiscal council, also elected by direct vote and an advising council made of people indicated by the members of the Olodum Cultural Group. Each area of theme activity developed by the Group has its coordinator, indicated by the board.

The Olodum Foundation takes care of social projects such as: Rufar dos Tambores and Escola Criativa Olodum, which include the international exchange work with the United States, Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America; the work with the Dance Group and the Bando de Teatro Olodum (Drama Group). The Escola Criativa (Creative School) offers yet complementary education to children from the Maciel/Pelourinho community. Whereas the Olodum Block takes care of the economic and commercial interests such as the Carnival Factory, the Boutique Olodum and all the structure of the Olodum Carnival, including the Band, the albums and the shows.

The Olodum Cultural Group develops actions to fight racial discrimination, it seeks to elevate the esteem and the pride of Afro-descendants and the fight to ensure the human and civil rights of those socially excluded, not only in the state of Bahia, but throughout the national territory. The fight of the Olodum Cultural Group serves as an example for other groups of afro-descendants.

The colors of Olodum are internationally known as the colors of the African diaspora and they represent an international identity against racism and in favor of the descendants of Africa. The Olodum is represented by the colors: green, red, yellow, black and white which are the Pan-Africanism colors, synthetized colors of the following: green, representing the equatorial forests from Africa; red, the blood of the black race; yellow, the gold from Africa; black, pride of the black race; white, world peace. The word Olodum is of yorubá origin and, in the religious ritual of candomblé, it means God of the Gods or the Greatest God.

Recife, 30 September 2011.

sources consulted

FISCHER, Tânia et al. Olodum: a arte e o negócio. Revista de Administração de Empresas, São Paulo, v.33, n.2, p.90-99, mar./abr. 1993.

OLODUM (Site Oficial). Available at: <>. Accessed : 5 out. 2011.

SILVA, Kátia de Melo e. Grupo Cultural Olodum. Cadernos de Pesquisas, São Paulo, n. 63, p. 117-118, nov. 1987.

how to quote this text

Source : ANDRADE, Maria do Carmo. Olodum. Pesquisa Escolar Online. Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Available at: <>. Acceessed : day month year. Ex.: 9 set. 2011