When walking through downtown São Paulo in 2018, performing journalistic work for Folha de S.Paulo, we could carefully observe the vibrant variety of expressions and colors of the commerce practiced by Africans. We were ecstatic in the face of such cultural wealth, but soon the questions arose: who were those immigrants? How did they adapt to Brazil? In the following years, we delved into this universe, not pretending to fully decipher it, but trying to get to know it a little better.
Through 43 women and men from 21 countries, such as Cape Verde, Egypt, Gabon, Mozambique and Nigeria, we heard stories of people who completely reinvented themselves in the short space of a couple years. Today, as it was in the colonial past, rebuilding life in a country like Brazil is extremely difficult for Africans: almost all of them have told us of painful racism episodes.
Each guest brought particularities of their country on photos and texts, proving that we need to resist the simplistic view that Africa is a homogeneous continent. Things are way more complex and therefore much more interesting.
In the split seconds of doubt about the project’s relevance, the guests themselves encouraged us to move forward. This exhibition is therefore dedicated to them –Angolans, Guineans, Senegalese and many others of whom we have become admirers.
Bob Wolfenson & Naief Haddad