“We love Brazil, in the same what that we wanna go to heaven.” I smile, as I hear these words from one of the Jamaicans I met while travelling around the island in the early 2000’s.
It is now September 2010. At Mugar Café at The Fletcher School is where I generally grab a salad or a bowl of chili for lunch. It is there where students gather, chat, have meetings, go over problem sets, laugh and make plans for the weekend. Needless to say, tables are quickly filled up at certain hours of the day.
In one of those busy afternoons, I had the pleasure of sharing a table with Kessman, and I am probably misspelling his first name. At first, he looks just like another quiet and shy first year. He looks at me from the corner of his eyes and keeps savoring his sandwich; probably wondering why I am sitting at his table. In two minutes of conversation I find out he is from Burkina Faso.
Burkina, a country that has almost 16 million people, is a landlocked country in West Africa. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Côte d'Ivoire to the southwest.
In three minutes of conversation, Kessman learns I am from Brazil… Brazil? He asks. Yes. And he looks at me, nods his head, and I see a warm smile brighten up his face. Before the usual question – do you like soccer? – my new Burkinabe friend tells me that my President had been to his country. And I learn that our countries have shared some type of technology that makes our cattle produce more milk.
Yesterday I went to a roundtable discussion with Paulo Sotero at MIT. Sotero is a political journalist that knows some peculiar facts about our most renowned politicians. With the goal of discussing the Brazilian Presidential elections, Sotero made a brief comment about the way our foreign affairs have been conducted. Despite its mishaps and sinuous ways, the Administration has made some important decisions.
Africa, he says, is the mother of every Brazilian citizen. This is where our music comes from; this is where the roots of the samba can be found. We dance the African way, we talk the African way, and we walk in the same manner as our neighbors across the Atlantic do. And President Lula knows that. And Kess knows that. And for a minute I feel that our distances have grown a lot smaller.
As Kess spells his name in the air, we share our impressions about some of our new friends. Yes, people are nice here. But they are nice for 5 minutes, and then they turn around and go away. And we are left alone again. I see in his eyes the reflection of my own feelings.
With a warm smile, he proudly introduces me to a friend of his that sits at our table. This is Kika, she is from
Brazil. Again another smile and this time the typical question to which I have more than 36 different answers. They get the one in which I say that girls only watch the games; we let the men do the hard work while we cheer for them. They laugh.
As Brazil takes off and becomes the country of the future, some things will definitely change. May our intrinsic values remain in the souls of the new generations. Certain things are just too good to become developed.
(picture from here)