I came to Brazil to study. As a multiracial Portuguese-speaking country, I believed I would easily blend in as an African but things were not as easy... I really like Brazil but there is a lot of work to be done to tackle racism, social discrimination and insecurity. I have started wearing my hair natural and afrocentric clothes, I guess as a way of reaffirming my identity.
I do feel a great sense of responsibility to help my family back home. I dream of moving to Canada for a Masters Programme and also hope to go back home one day.
Felismina, 20 years old, Angola
I came here when I was 12 years old to live with my brother. I lost my parents during the civil war in Angola and did not really have any family members I could stay with.
Racism is a problem in Brazil. I remember the time I got stopped by a security guard at the supermarket and was asked to show the contents of my bag whilst other white customers walked past. It was humiliating. What I miss most? My country’s hospitality and conviviality, that’s probably why I have refused to lose my Angolan accent.
For the past three years, I have been dreaming of going back to Angola and hope to make this dream come true in the next few months. Hopefully the mandarin I have learned will be of use there. Who knows?
Kheyla, 30 years old, Cabo Verde
Nine years ago, I moved to Brazil to study. Moving to Brazil helped me shape my identity and I can say that I strongly feel Cape Verdean. For instance, I recall when I cut my chemically relaxed long and curly hair. I was constantly criticized about it and saw that people looked at me differently. I went from being considered "white" or "mixed" to being considered "black" isn’t that crazy?
I dream of success! I have just launched my Afrocentric clothing and accessories brand. I am also currently involved in various cultural projects, which focus on challenging the negative stereotypes about Africa. I hope to be able to take what I have learnt here back to Cabo Verde and contribute to the development of my country.
Folakemi "Folake", 31 years old, British-Nigerian
I am the lead singer of the Folakemi Quinteto Band in Rio de Janeiro. I initially came to Brazil to buy land in the North East, in Fortaleza but instead met and fell in love with a Brazilian. It had also always been my dream to come and live here.
Whilst I recognize racism, extreme poverty and corrupt government as the downsides of living here, there are many positives things here too that help to ease these downsides. Leaving my office job in London to sing in Brazil has been a journey and a revelation for me.
I dream of becoming a successful singer and live a long and happy life in a place that nurtures my creativity as an artist. Feel free to add me on facebook at www.facebook.com/FolakemiQuinteto