Destination Rio de Janeiro, the third travel to the former capital of Brazil.
The fourth day in the cultural center, about African roots and hippies.
We had left the weekend behind us. We experienced a tiresome Saturday, after the bus travel and the first cultural night. We had an unforgettable Sunday with a lot of music and samba. It was Monday morning, we slept until 9 am. We kept ourselves a bit quiet in the first morning hour. I went, together with Juliana and Mariana, to the local padaria (bakery) for fresh strong coffee and roasted bread with butter. It was very cheap here: only one real (35 euro cents). We then went to the margin of Urca. At the other side, we observed Botafogo Beach and Marina. We also could observe the landing and departing airplanes of nearby regional airport Santos Dumont. We returned to the campus at eleven am.
We had to go to Lapa, in order to pick up folders and other materials. We also read the cultural program in more detail. We took the free bus to the center. In “ Fundição Progresso” Building, the location of the events, we noticed many students. The rooms inside this building were named after African countries. Not very surprising, since the motto of this fifth edition of the cultural biennial of the UNE (União Nacional de Estudantes, National Student Union) was “ Brasil-Africa: Um Rio Chamado Atlântico (Brazil-Africa, a River that is called Atlantis)”. Obviously, the motto is about the strong historical and cultural link between Brazil and the African countries, the roots of millions of slaves and the descendants. Countries that were present during the event were the principal providers of slaves, added with some southern African nations: Sierra Leone, Togo, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Angola, Guinea, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Gabon, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Congo, Namibia, Mozambique.
On the second floor, the central open space was filled with many religious statues and decorations. Catholic statues, statues that are used for candomblé and umbanda rituals. There flower garlands and red roses. And food as offerings. It gave us a good overview of the integration of Catholicism with the originally African nature religions. There was no eternal and bloody conflict, but a practical merger. In this respect, slaves were able to continue the worshiping of their native religions without any intervention of their white masters. Would this kind of merger serve as a peaceful example for the strong controversies between Islam, Catholicism, and Judaism? All three are based upon the same God, but the three religions are controversial and sometimes very hostile to each other. A strange world…
On another floor, we enjoyed the try-outs of starting rock bands. It was not always that enjoyable. Some of these bands lacked talent and quality, and produced sounds that were torturing our sensitive ears. They performed at a half-open space. A large sheet of canvas served as a provisional roof, protecting us against eventual rain showers and sunlight. Under this sheet, some dozens of students sat or lied down on pillows and blankets. It was clear that some of them had spent the night there, alone or intimately with their partners. Most of these students would be considered as ‘alternatives’: they had a large part of their bodies covered with colorful tattoos, decorated with a respectable weight of piercings, and had used a colorful palette of hair dye. Despite their sometimes weird appearance, I felt comfortable among them, because there was a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere. Were they the hippies of the new millennium?
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom