In the bustling streets of Rio de Janeiro, the vibrant cultural fusion and rich diversity are often attributed to the arrival of people from various corners of the world. Among them, Angolans have found a new home, seeking not only respite from the turmoil in their home country but also an abundance of professional opportunities.
In this article, we delve into the stories of three remarkable individuals who ventured from Angola to Brazil in pursuit of better lives and brighter futures.
A Cultural Connection
Bilongo Lando Domingos, a 32-year-old hairstylist specializing in stylish men’s haircuts, is a prime example of this Angolan migration to Brazil. Having called Rio de Janeiro home for the past 13 years, Bilongo’s journey to Brazil was driven by a desire to escape the civil unrest in Angola during the 1990s and early 2000s.
At that time, young men like him were prime targets for military recruitment, and the prospect of being forced into a war he deemed unnecessary led him to make the life-changing decision to leave his homeland.
Bilongo chose Brazil not only for its geographical proximity but also because of the shared language and cultural affinity. He points out that Brazilians have a profound respect for Angolans and share an appreciation for Angolan music, colors, and ways of life.
Pursuing Education and Professional Growth
Angelina Sissa João, a 26-year-old marketing student, also set her sights on Brazil. Encouraged by family members who had previously studied in Rio and returned to Angola, she enrolled in a marketing program in pursuit of professional growth. According to Angelina, Brazil’s extensive experience in the field was a key factor in her decision.
Her two years of study at a private university in Tijuca, in the northern zone of Rio, have not only enriched her knowledge but also provided her with a taste of the Brazilian way of life that she finds closely aligned with that of Angola.
For Angelina, the cultural resemblance played a pivotal role in her choice. The openness and friendliness of the Brazilian people mirrored what she was accustomed to in Angola, making her transition to life in Brazil a smooth one.
Academia and a New Career
Cabingano Manuel, a journalist with a specialization in administration, arrived in Brazil four years ago to work as a correspondent for a television network. His journey was primarily motivated by academic pursuits, with the prospect of pursuing a master’s degree in communication and postgraduate studies in administration being the driving force behind his decision. Manuel’s role as an international correspondent led him to Brazil, where he fell in love with the culture and the people.
Manuel attributes the cultural similarities between Brazil and Angola as a significant factor in his decision to make Brazil his new home. The streets, the people, and the customs in Brazil bear a striking resemblance to those of Angola, particularly the capital, Luanda.
The Power of Language
One cannot overlook the importance of language in attracting these immigrants. Both Angola and Brazil share Portuguese as their official language, making communication easy and fostering a sense of belonging. Luiz Fernando Godinho, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), acknowledges the role of language in attracting immigrants. In the past, Brazil welcomed approximately 1.7 thousand Angolan refugees during the war in Angola, and the shared language played a significant part in this.
Today, Angolans represent the third-largest group among the approximately 7.2 thousand refugees from 80 different nationalities in Brazil. The majority now hails from Syria (1.2 thousand) and Colombia (1 thousand). With the trend shifting towards residency status rather than refugee status, the number of Angolans with refugee status is expected to further decline. This is a testament to the successful integration and support provided by Brazil.
The stories of Bilongo Lando Domingos, Angelina Sissa João, and Cabingano Manuel highlight the allure of Brazil for Angolans seeking a better life and professional opportunities. The cultural proximity, language, and warm reception they receive in Brazil have made it an attractive destination for those looking to build a brighter future.
As Brazil continues to welcome people from various corners of the globe, the nation’s cultural mosaic continues to evolve, enriching the country’s vibrant diversity. The seamless integration of Angolans into Brazilian society is a testament to the power of cultural connections and the pursuit of a better life. As they say, the world truly becomes a smaller place when cultures come together, and Brazil remains an epitome of this unity.