Africa in Brazil,

There has never been a better time to have an exhibition about Africa and Brazil than this year – as almost everyone on the African continent is warming up for the World Cup in Brazil- a country that has the largest population of people with African descent.

The exhibition”Africa in Brazil, Brazil in Africa”, however is not about football. It’s about the culture and traditions these two communities share which was ironically propagated by the Transatlantic slave trade between the 16th and 19th century.

That famous and yet vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture practiced in Brazil has roots in African culture and this can be traced in the way the Samba and Marakatu dances are performed with a lot of energy and rhythm. This is reminiscent of cultural performances of many African communities.

The multi-disciplinary exhibition at the Uganda Museum shows photography, video installation and mixed media installation about Africa and Brazil.

In the photograph series “Territory Spin” and”Home” by Brazilian artist, Guma, you appreciate the similarities these two cultures share through dance, music, spiritual fete (voodooism) and shelters (hovel like) of the Brazilians.

In the experimental documentary”Transatlantic Saudades” by Kitso Lynn Lelliot, the artist takes her audience on a nostalgic journey-Saudades is Portuguese word for feelings much similar to nostalgia, longing… bordering on the past and future-that leaves them emotionally engaged.

Her narrative on video told through the first person evokes her experience as someone with African ancestry, but living across the Atlantic.

Her tone of voice throughout the narrative is sentimental, yet free of anguish and self-pity which otherwise would have obscured the massage and artistic quality of her work.

“Transatlantic Saudades is a meandering, as in a dream. It is to never quite fully be in the place that you are in”, she writes in her statement.

Through the installation “Africa is Soil” the Ugandan artist Bruno Ruganzu evokes his own experience of living in Brazil.

His use of soil to create a map of Africa on the surface covered with a black piece of cloth is symbolic to origin of Africans. It also symbolizes a fragmented and fragile African continent- depicted by the imaginary boundaries in the map- which was spurred by colonialism and slave trade.

Additionally, the artist’s use of two maps one of Africa and the other of Brazil, symbolizes the sentiments many Brazilians share about Africa as “a motherland” destination.

“When I went to Brazil, everyone was happy to see me and many confessed that I reminded them of their “Motherland,” says Ruganzu.

This aspect of cultural identity and belonging, communicated by all artists in the exhibit, is perhaps the gest point of the exhibition, more than the academic historical discourse quality some scholars may attach to it.

Overall, this exhibition gives us an opportunity to think about who exactly we are especially in this post-modernist society which has often aanced the concept of globalisation. While we think of adopting other cultures and identities aanced by the west, it is important to first fully understand what defines us as Africans and those who share our ancestry.

This way, we might be equipped with the knowledge of identifying the good and bad about global culture, but most importantly preserve our traditions and culture for future generations of Africans across the world.

The exhibition started Feb.18 and will be on show until March 13 at the Uganda Museum, Kamwokya.

The exhibition was organised by the Goethe Zentrum Kampala and other Partners.

The exhibition was organised by the Goethe Zentrum Kampala and other Partners.

Source : The Independent

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