Dia da Consciencia Negra – Black Awareness Day

November 20, Dia da Consciencia Negra

We must not only have conscience that all we are equal today, but everyday...

Black Awareness Day is celebrated each year on November 20 in Brazil as a day “to celebrate a regained awareness by the black community about their great worth and contribution to the country”.

Members of the organization “Movimento Negro” (the largest of its kind in Brazil) organize educational and fun events involving mainly children of African descent. Their focus during these events is to dissolve the perception of Africans’ inferiority in society. Other “hot topics” in the black community during the Day of Black Awareness are the assimilation of African-Brazilian laborers with Caucasian-Brazilian and other laborers, ethnic identity, and black pride.

Black Awareness Day has been celebrated since the 1960s and has only amplified its events in the last few years. Black Awareness Day used to be celebrated on 13 May (the date of abolition of slavery in Brazil). However, Afro-Brazilians asked to change it to 20 of November to honor Zumbi dos Palmares‘ death.

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Rio Bairro Madureira

Parque Madureira in Rio de Janeiro


Photo: Rafael Soares

Most likely, you’ve never heard of Madureira in Rio’s Zona West. When most people think of Rio de Janeiro, they think of  Zona Sul tourist neighborhoods of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, but Rio is HUGE, there’s more to it than just Zona Sul, which makes up just a small fraction of the city.

Rio is divided into 7 districts {Central, Zona Sul, Grande Barra da Tijuca, Zona Oeste, Grande Tijuca, Ilha do Governador, Zona Norte} and there are over 100 bairros (neighborhoods}, each with their own style and flavor making Rio a true melting pot of culture. These bairros are where you will find the Real Rio with it’s hard working class people, creative, skillful and beautiful.

When watching the Carnaval parades, most likely you are seeing people from these neighborhoods, Bairros such as Jacarepaguá, Vila Valqueire, Madureira, Campo Grande are far from the tourists travel guides, but you’ll find a richness in culture that you couldn’t imagine elsewhere in Brazil.

“Jacarepaguá” a bairro in Zona Oeste, is a term from the indigenous Tupi tribe that means “cove of the alligator sea”, and you can still find an alligator or two lurking in some of the undeveloped waterways. Madureira, a mostly Afro Brazilian bairro of Zona Norte, is the hub of Cultura Negra Brasiliera and is famous for two of the most popular samba schools that call it home, Portela and Império Serrano. Also in the area is the the famous Mercadão de Madureira Shopping, which if you’re adventurous and willing to take a long taxi of train ride, would be worthwhile to visit. Don’t expect to find Gucci bags at Mercadão de Madureira, instead you’ll can load up on livestock (live goats, chickens, birds and other exotic animals) as well as diverse products for religious Candomble ceremonies and more at the over 650 stores. While most people have heard of the Girl from Ipanema, bikini clad, tall and tan, but the true flavor of Rio de Janeiro comes from the various neighborhoods such as Madureira that make up real beauty of the city.

Viaduto de Madureira is a “club” that goes down under the “freeway” (viaduto) and has been going strong at the same location since 1990. Saturday nights, the music is old school Hip Hop and R&B (called Baile Charme). You’ll find generations of families coming out to dance who grew up on American soul music and it even has a Soultrain vibe to it with it’s “hustle” type line dances going on as various crews compete informally to see who has the best moves. Due to it’s popularity with the cultura negra Brasileira, Viaduto de Madureira has become a must stop for old school R&B artists such as Keith Sweat and Montell Jordan and Donnell Jones to perform live.

Recently Viaduto de Madureira has become popular with the trendy Zona Sul crowd, after it was featured in a novela on O’Globo. The recent influx of the Zona Sul crowd has left some of the locals disenchanted and feel that their spot is being taken over by outsiders. A newer club, also underneath a viaduto, run by CUFA – Central Única das Favelas has recently surged in popularity for the young afrocentric crowd of Madureira. One of CUFA’s founders is Brazilian rapper MV Bill. CUFA doesn’t just promote club, it is an organization that also give youths lessons and courses in DJing, Computers, Gastronomy, Audiovisual, Sports and others.

Parque Madureira is a 26 acre park built in 2012. The park has become a major center of Madureira, bringing easy access for leisure activities to such as concerts, skating, botanical garden, bike and walking paths, food courts and picnic areas for families. There is also a mini waterfall and sand area for those that want to escape the heat without ou having to travel miles away to Rio’s beach neighborhoods. Major events are staged in the park, attracting families and the public in the thousands.

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Raining in Rio? Visit a Museum

It’s raining, you’re on vacation and don’t want to be stuck in your hotel or apartment. What a better day than to visit one of Rio’s many museums. The newest and one of our favorites is the Museu de Arte do Rio. Located in Centro, it can be reached by subway, (exit at Uruguiana station – and it a short walk from there) or by bus or taxi.

Other local Rio de Janeiro museums to visit:

Museu do Art Moderno (MAM) http://www.mamrio.com.br

Palacio de Catete – for history buffs, contains the Museu da Republica or Museum of the Republic. 

Copacabana Fort – http://www.fortedecopacabana.com

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