Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL - Touristic Guide
Interview made by Cyril Bruyelle in March 2017
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Actually I never had a dream. I've always… I still have that problem; I just keep living my life. I'm not keen to planning or dreaming about what I would like to be. I never wanted to be a doctor, a fireman, and things like that. I never had that dream.
With whom would you like to have a coffee?
Many people, people who could give something new to me. But I could mention Gandhi... Darcy Ribeiro would be a very nice person to chat with. Darcy Ribeiro is a Brazilian man who used to spend some good time with Indians, I like him very much, he's very nice.
If you could choose something that could be taught in every school in the world, what would it be?
Kids should learn not to think about being too rich or having to many things. They should learn to be happy with what they have, without wanting to owe many things. Companies want you have desires and buy things. I would tell children to be happy in a simpler way with a smaller ego.
To you, what’s that main characteristic that all human being have in common?
Ego. A characteristic that every human being has is ego. It means we have to control our ego a lot, we are a big… how can I say… a challenge for everyone. I also think that everyone has two sides, a good one and a bad one. People have to choose which one they would like to feed. I think the biggest problem of humanity is ego. It's what makes you want to have more things and be better than the other person.
To you, who is the happiest person on earth?
The happiest person is the one who lives his everyday life… day by day. Of course you have to make some plans, think about the future, but the person who lives the everyday life is the happiest one.
If you were President of the US, what would your first reform be?
Politicians nowadays want to make wars and invade other places. I think they should reduce a little bit capitalism; they should be more concerned with social aspects. For me the US is a troublemaker, always causing problems in other places, like wars or economic disorders, and they always want to make profits. Before they used to take care of the wellbeing of American people. But nowadays, from what I can see, they just focus on a small group, rich people, like here in Brazil and elsewhere in the world.
What do you need?
I need just a little bit more money. In reality, I'm quite OK with I have. I'd like to have a quieter life. I wouldn't like to be younger, when I was younger, I used to enjoy living in the city, go to parties and all that, but now I'd like a more peaceful and quieter life. I live in Babilónia (a favela in the Leme neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro), in a big city; I need at least some comfort. Living in the countryside would be a big step. I'd like to have a bit more money – or an opportunity to earn a bit more - in order to live a quieter life. I don't wish for yachts, being rich and all that, just a bit more to have a quality life.
What would you do if we gave you 1 million dollars now?
I have already thought about that. I'd surely buy some things for myself: a house, some land in the countryside. I'd also like to be able to travel, at least once a year, to know different places. I'd very much like to help other people by building a cultural centre, to empower people so that they can move on in life. I used to give classes for some years at the "favela" of Itabajara, at Cantinho Verde - which is a school - and every time I went there, even when I felt lazy, as soon as I got there, it was amazing moments. Giving classes to those needy children, to be able to influence them positively in their life, somehow bringing them something new, making them better persons, all that meant a lot to me. With what I do today - which is "capoeira" - I'm also able in a way to give assistance to needy people, such as homeless people... I'm planning to give "capoeira" classes, because with "capoeira" I can tell people that they are good, that they are capable of doing things, I can talk a little about history, so I can somehow change their lives. It's something that gives me a lot of pleasure. Actually, I can’t remember feeling more pleasure than when I was helping needy people.
What’s the news that affects you the most in your country these days?
I think that the press worldwide works for the benefit of only a few people, a dominant minority in the world.
The internet is very interesting. I'll give you an example here in Brazil. We have a broadcasting company, a family, which runs the television, the radio and a magazine. So, in my opinion - I could be wrong - they could elect a president or remove a president. They are very strong and influent. I don't believe in today's journalism, unless it's independent. Today it's very difficult for me to find a place, a source of information in which I believe. I have to do a lot of research, because most journalists serve their own interests. Sometimes I even ask people who think differently than me for a source, a place, a website that is more... how can I say... impartial. Impartiality in today's journalism is very hard to find, because broadcasting networks – meaning the big companies - only show one side, they work for someone, a minority.
Do you think your life is easier or more complicated than the life of your parents?
I was still a boy when I lived with my parents and I didn't realise how tough their life was. My parents always had a simple life and managed to climb a bit higher. I have the feeling that at the time there were more opportunities, there were less qualified people in the world. So I think they had more opportunities, and nowadays it's a bit more difficult. That's what I think, I may be wrong. So today I think that things are a bit more difficult, also because of competition, there's a lot more competition than before.
If you had to create a company, what would it be?
Well, the company of my dreams would be a company which would be connected to reality, with our new needs.
Not being concerned by only one group, but by everyone. The profit of this company would be shared with everyone and would not act for the benefit of only a few people. Almost something collaborative.
I think that's what's happening worldwide more and more. Young people are starting to think differently. The most important now is let the old way of thinking being replaced by the new good way of thinking. Today there is this trend of saying that everything goes wrong, because the press depends on that. The press lives on showing a climate of terror within people, in order to dominate. There are many good things happening, but nobody talks about them. Good news isn’t as successful as bad news. I see many young people doing working in a collaborative way, they are trying different things, working more in groups. So, we have to be more and more connected to each other, there's no point in being isolated.
Can you draw something beautiful?
It's a character called Graúna, do Henfil. Henfil was someone who fought a lot against the military oppression we had here in Brazil. We had a very dark period with militarism. Personally, I don't agree with it, there are people who do, but I don't. Today Brazil is again going through difficult times politically, because of a group working for the benefit of only a few people... this group took power, made a coup here in Brazil. Their proposal is to create a bigger distance between those who have a lot and those who have very little. And that distance causes violence. So, this is for you, Henfil.
Can you sing something beautiful?
Yeah, I can sing. Well, there is a song that I learn in "capoeira" that is really cool, because it came from the countryside and our old master taught it to my group.
I had my "sobral" whitewashed / I did, I did, I did.
I had it painted in yellow / I painted, I painted, I painted.
What are you afraid of?
Violence. I'm afraid of this social gap I was talking about. As this gap gets bigger, more violence will appear. This social distance between the poor and the rich… I'm afraid of the concentration of money in the hands of a small group. That will cause a huge problem here in Brazil. I'm afraid of the selfishness, of the ego, I'm afraid of all that.
What is your dream?
My dream is to get that money that you talk about.
If you give me some money, I'd be back to Bali to surf, relax a little bit, chill out. I want to relax, something for myself. My dream is to be able to fulfil my dreams. Having a quiet life, having time to study, having time to help other people. Helping other people is something that I'm doing for myself, it's a personal fulfilment. It's not because I'm a good guy, it's because it makes me feel good. So, I want a quiet house to watch my kids grow up and to have my friends always around me. That’s why that social tensions that I mentioned before make people more revolted. A better condition for everyone makes people more relaxed. And that's my dream.
Close your eyes, you are in 2100, what do you see?
Oh, man… If it keeps going the way … If I think about the way I receive the news from the main media, we'll be screwed up, because people are more and more selfish, there's concentration of money, wars, some dominant countries causing chaos in poorer countries for profit. There is a poet here... there was, because he's dead already… a singer called Cazuza. He had this sentence in a song: "They transform this country into a brothel / because it's the way they earn more money". This is exactly what happens, that's the strategy. They transform a country or a place into chaos in order to get more money. So, in 2100, if it keeps going that way… what a terrible thing I see. But I know there is a silent revolution, there are many people who aren't like that. People who are becoming more spiritual, people who are searching and sharing more. I believe more in that side. I believe that in 2100 we will be more balanced; people will have become more enlightened... I'm not a religious person, but I believe we will vibrate in another way. Humans will be more enlightened, we've been doing that already, getting better and better. So, I prefer to believe that 2100 will have more of those nice and quiet people.
What is the most beautiful thing that you’ve seen in your life?
Like I said, I'm not a very religious person. I don't have a religion, even though I believe in God. My God is nature. So, I'll not mention only one thing. I'll talk about the moments when I feel closer to God, when I feel more connected. It's when I am at sea, surfing, or when I'm doing some trekking in a beautiful place. Those places are beautiful, because they make me feel part of the whole thing.
Who is God for you?
Is God nature? No, more than this, OK? Nature is one face of God. God is all of us. It's us. Everyone has a bit of God in them, they say. Everyone has a seed, a spark of God. So, we have to discover God in ourselves. That's the process of 2100. In 2100 we'll be more like God, God’s will.
Which of your country’s cultural specificities are you the proudest of?
The people. The popular culture, which is so rich. We must thank people from the countryside for preserving our culture.
We have to thank the Indians, the black people, the Africans... Africa is very important for our culture.
I have to bow my head to the African culture here, they made a lot of things. They influenced our religion, our music, our food, our language. Even though it happened aggressively, Africa was very generous with Brazil. I'm more related to the African culture, I like it very much, it has a lot of dance, singing and dancing, I’ve been doing "capoeira" for many years, I like the drum, I like the samba reggae, I like the rhythm, because I feel captivated by it. But it's not only African, we have our own Indian people, who are the original inhabitants and they're beautiful. It's a pity we don't know much about them. There's a work that we don't know about that indigenous culture. It's huge, so beautiful. They know so many things. I believe the government often diminish the value of Indians. The same goes with the black people. They diminish and reduce their importance so that they can invade the tribes, the lands, mistreat people, saying they aren't good enough. It's a strategy of the oppressive group, of the minority. Imagine if we all valued the indigenous culture, if we knew about it.
If you could do any job regardless of money, what would you do?
There are so many possibilities, it's difficult. There are so many doors. I think I like to learn. Knowledge is a thing that can never be stolen from you. As I get older, I recognize this. So, I'd like to have more time to study and learn. I'm fascinated a lot by all kind of knowledge.
If you had to explain our planet to an alien what would you say?
There are some nice people here too. I know that those guys… they are not cool, those that are running the planet. But there are really cool people here. Don't focus on those guys, focus on the nice ones.
And you, which question would you like to ask to the world?
Until when will we follow what this minority tells us to do?
We will be like sheep following along. Our way of life is a plan, it is a strategy of dominance. I'm not being radical. Even poverty is a plan, a project. Poverty is a project of dominance.
My dream is that every place in Brazil has more culture, so that people can make a decision. A person who wakes up in the morning, goes to work, takes the bus, stays hours at work, gets home and only has time to eat and sleep again. What is he/she going to do? That person is not going to change, he/she will not have the chance to change. So, if all of us have the chance of changing... We are part of the mother ship, we are part of one planet and we have to understand more and more that we are connected. There's no use for borders, everything must be OK for everyone.