BRASILIA (Reuters) -- Brazilian political leaders and show business stars
rubbed shoulders with shanty-town dwellers on Friday as they paid last
respects to a spiritual leader of the country's Afro-Brazilian candomble
Mae (Mother) Cleusa do Gantois, 67, died on Thursday in Salvador, the
capital of Brazil's northeastern Bahia state, where she presided over a
famous centre for the faith, brought to South America by African slaves in
the 17th Century.
Many Bahians consider themselves both Catholics and followers of
candomble, relying on mother saints like Mae Cleusa for spiritual guidance.
"I came to see the body of Mae Cleusa up close. I'm very upset, I can't
talk," leading singer-songwriter Caetano Velloso told national Globo News
Throughout the day hundreds of worshippers dressed in white, the sacred
colour of candomble ceremonies, filed past an open coffin to view the the
body of Mae Cleusa, decked out in the traditional turban and flowing robes
of candomble priesthood.
The president of Brazil's Congress, Sen. Antonio Carlos Magalhaes, joined
the mourners after jetting in from the capital Brasilia. Earlier, a Catholic
bishop paid his tribute.
Mae Cleusa, whose official name was Cleusa Millet and was a nurse by
profession, claimed heritage from a noble family in modern-day Nigeria,
where her great-great-grandmother was captured by slavers and brought to
Brazil, O Globo newspaper said.
Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.