It is possible to assume from photos included in Pele’s autobiography and in Pele’s descriptions of being ‘black’, that he descends from the 3 million African people brought to Brazil as slaves between the mid-1500s and 1850-88 when slavery was abolished in Brazil. (Microsoft Encarta online Encyclopaedia 2001)“I have often been asked if, being black, I ever faced racial prejudice”(Pele, 1977, p.83)

While African spiritualism and other African customs have continued from their native lands of the Congo, Mozambique and West Africa, it is obvious that the Catholic culture of the Portuguese has played a role in the families belief system. Pele mentions his baptism explaining his delight at meeting Popes John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, and what it meant for him. Most of Brazil’s population and particularly that of black Brazilians until the 1960s’, lived rurally working in gold mines or sugar plantations and later on the coffee plantations. The Government then encouraged multi-national investors into Brazil, expanding the Iron and Steel Industries resulting in many people moving into urban areas particularly in the southeast, where Pele grew up. Dondinho (nickname), Pele’s father was a professional soccer player. The family moved around as Dondinho followed employment opportunities with different clubs. While Dondinho signed for a big club, an injury in the first game of the season meant a return home. He played for minor clubs receiving a wage “called in Portuguese a mixera –not a very nice word meaning less than nothing”(Pele, 1977). There was no insurance or compensation scheme at the time. He also worked in a hospital as a cleaner. Dona Celeste (Pele’s mother) did not appear to have paid employment though she was bringing up three children.

Dona Celeste and Joao Ramos de Nascimento, his mother and father both express values as told by Pele, of the dignity of people, the value of a promise and carrying ones self with respect. Family was an important value to the parents. His mother’s brother Jorge, and her mother, Dona Ambrosina, lived with them and were consulted in various decisions about the family. Pele also records his own concern and affection for his family.

By admin