Brazil is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of race and culture. The citizens of the country can trace their roots from almost every part of the globe from Japan to Africa and Portugal among other European and Asian countries. Trade and movement in the early years have resulted to the present demography of the country. There is a large population of people of African origin arising from the slave trade that was rampant in the 18th and 19th century. The development of coffee plantations in Brazil brought the need for cheap labor and with the policy that banned the enslavement of the native Indians, focus shifted to the western Africa countries such as the Ivory Coast. Currently, the African Brazilians are the predominant race in the northeastern region with others scantily distributed in the other regions of the vast country. Although they were taken there as slaves and lived as a minority group, the Africans have contributed significantly to all aspects of the culture in Brazil ranging from religion to music and dance.
Early migration into the country and the importation of slaves from Africa has over the years played a vital role in shaping the culture of the country. The country’s architecture, art, dances and music portrays a multinational background. The African culture is depicted in all this aspects of the society including the standard Brazilian cuisine and religion. This has been successfully nurtured and developed by the country’s administration and constitution which allows all individuals to practice their culture and encourage the local administrations to assist in growing it. As a result, the country has a world wonder of modern times, the ‘Cristo Redentor’ and the UNESCO has cited 17 Brazilian national and cultural assets as world heritage sites. A Jesuit preacher once said that Brazil has an American body and an African soul. This was in relation to the influence the Africans had on the society regardless of whether they were free or slaves.
The African culture has been infused in the Brazilian system and currently an African aspect can be spotted in almost anything Brazilian. Major festivals and dances usually have an African theme that has found its way into the scene with time. For instance, the famous samba which has now become a symbol of Brazil is deeply rooted in the African culture from the drum beats to the movement and rhythms. Some of the dance moves in the samba resemble those of communities in Angola and Congo where most slaves were taken from. However, the African aspect is diluted by borrowing from other cultures such as the European and Asian to make the dance a pure Brazilian affair from the costumes to the drum beats and rhythm. The Brazilian cuisine is also borrowed from various cultures including the Africans.
Another activity in Brazil that is dominated by the Africans is sports. The country is known for being a football powerhouse with the Brazilian national team having won the world cup on a record five times, more times than any other country. This national treasure is predominantly a black man affair with most of the renowned players in the Brazilian squad being African Americans. Football legends such as the great Pele, Ronaldo, Cafu, Carlos among others who have won admiration worldwide for their talent are all of African origin. The contribution of African Brazilians in football and other sports has contributed to integration and cohesion among the Brazilians on the national front as these players act as role models for young people in ethnic and racial setting.
Since the time of slavery, Brazilian labor was mostly made of Africans. They worked on the sugar cane plantations and later in the coffee plantations which were owned by the Portuguese. After slavery was abolished the Brazilian Africans’ population grew to become an important factor in the country’s economy. They still constitute the vast workforce that drives the Brazilian economy, and their economic status has changed. The northern region is the largest producer of coffee and with Brazil being the world leader in the production of quality coffee, the black community pride in being the force behind this aspect of the economy. They also provide labor in other industries across the country as professionals and hold leadership positions in the state. This has seen people like marina Silva seek the top most leadership of the country.
The African traditions have managed to survive in Brazil, a multi-racial country through integration and use in the national from. The African Brazilians did not shy away from their culture because they were slaves but continued to practice it until it became part of the present-day Brazil. The abolishment of slavery and the acceptance of Africans as citizens of Brazil brought about dedicated contribution towards the economy of the country. The Africans were allowed to exploit their talents in leadership both at the political and the corporate scene. Their contribution to sports, mainly football has also contributed to the pride of the country. It is, therefore, not easy to separate the Brazilian culture from the African.
Geipel, John. Brazil's African Legacy. History Today, 8 1997. Retrieved from http://www.historytoday.com/john-geipel/brazils-african-legacy