Home Opinion From the bicentennial of Brazil and the attempt to erase the presence of Africa in the Americas

From the bicentennial of Brazil and the attempt to erase the presence of Africa in the Americas

João MeloJoão Melo*

The mainstream media treatment, both in Brazil and in Portugal, its former colonizer, of the bicentennial of independence of the largest country in Latin America was, in a general way, a demonstration of an irrefutable historical truth: the westernized elites (the adjective is political-cultural ) globally hegemonic are profoundly racist and Eurocentric. It should not surprise us, therefore, that they act as if the importance of Africa and Africans for the construction of the modern world were non-existent.
I am not referring to the request of the Brazilian authorities for Portugal to send, as a “loan” (?) the heart of D. Pedro II to, supposedly, be venerated by Brazilians (is it that they, in the grip of a deep civilizational crisis that for Bolsonarism and on the eve of a decisive election, which could interrupt or maintain it, did they really?). Likewise, I will not comment on the various texts I read in the Portuguese press praising, with a bacoco nostalgia, the “work” of colonial Portugal in Brazil.

The bottom line is the deliberate omission of the following crucial fact: the determining role of the work of millions of enslaved Africans in the construction of Brazil, of which, I remember, about 80% came from Angola. Likewise, it is impossible not to mention the millions of corpses of native peoples and Africans taken by force to Brazilian territory. The colonial “work” of Portugal in Brazil – based, let us say, on an invention created by the Portuguese in São Tomé and Príncipe and which would spread throughout the world at that time, namely in the Americas, the “plantation technology” – is, therefore, tributary to the blood of all these men.

The fact is that, despite the deliberate and structural (which is the same thing) policies of destruction of Brazilians of black African origin, they continue to be the demographic majority of the country to this day. In addition to its economic contribution to the construction of Brazil, its role in the formulation of Brazilian culture and identity is absolutely unavoidable. The main brands in Brazil are still black today: samba, Carnaval and Pelé. In addition, and thanks mainly to the work of the new generations of Afro-Brazilian intellectuals that emerged as a result of the public policies of the Lula governments, the contributions of several other black figures to independence itself, as well as to the construction of Brazil, are beginning to be rescued. in different areas.

These contributions were outright ignored, in general, either in the official commemorations of the bicentennial of Brazil or in the repercussions of the subject in the dominant press, in the country and abroad. For this reason, journalist, writer and cultural producer Tom Farias recalled, in an article published in the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, that the idea of ​​commemorating the 200th anniversary of Brazil as an independent country “is not in line with the idea of ​​freedom for men”. and black and black women – yesterday and today”. The title of the article anticipates its content: – “An independence without blacks is not worth it”.

The maka is that the historically hegemonic elites in all Latin American countries are descendants of the former Portuguese and Spanish colonizers, being responsible for the reproduction, after their respective independence, not only of ideology, but also of the same structures of domination inherited from the past. I remember, by the way, a Colombian acquaintance of mine who one day I asked about the situation of blacks in his country, to which he replied that there were no blacks in Colombia. I confess that, for a moment, I didn’t know how to react, having been stricken with contradictory feelings.

The truth is that the Black African contribution to the constitution of new nations on the American continent and the Caribbean, to the consolidation and universalization of capitalism and to the construction of modernity does not need to be demonstrated. Just honesty to recognize and value it properly.

*Angolan writer and journalist

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