Mozambique Guitar Hero – Feliciano dos Santos

As I rarely do, I would like to share a different kind of Portuguese with you. You see, the Mozambican Portuguese is quite different in some aspects (using dialect loanwords, for example) but on the other hand, it’s easy to see how it falls under the Continental variety too. I have a long-time friend who lived there for three years and came back speaking it, which was interesting to see because she didn’t speak any Portuguese when she left the States.

Here’s a project coming out of Niassa, the northern most region of Mozambique, which was featured on PBS (see the 11-minute video here), originally aired in mid-2008. It’s partly in English, part dialect and part Portuguese (all with subtitles).

“Harnessing their popularity to fight poverty, Massukos make music that is not only phenomenally beautiful but also a powerful force for change” – Rita Ray

Massukos are considered national treasures in their native country, renowned both for their stunning music and the humanitarian work that they do. Originating from Niassa in northern Mozambique, one of the poorest parts of Africa, Massukos use their music to deliver simple life-saving messages about hygiene, sanitation and HIV/AIDS.

The leader of Massukos, Feliciano dos Santos, is also the director and founder of the NGO Estamos – in April 2008 he was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize – the world’s largest environmental prize for grassroots activites. Massukos are making their mark internationally with their new album Bumping, attracting rave reviews for it’s “infectious” “ebullient” and “uplifting” sounds.”

To finish it off, I’ll post a cool song that Feliciano’s band Massukos sings called Niassa…which is in Portuguese.

The Barack Obamas of Brazil

I was approached by PBS/Frontline to see one of their documentaries and if I liked it, to write about my thoughts on it here. The piece is called Brazil: The Obama Samba and runs at a little over 12 minutes and covers an aspiring Brazilian politician who runs under the name Barack Obama. The story that accompanies it, is a summary of the video documentary itself (minus the first paragraph). 

Personally, I believe the only real change that will occur in this country (the USA) will come as a result of the people rising up and defeating the system, but I’ll run with the story for its Brazilian connection and for the fact that the idea of change and hope (or perhaps more specifically, the Presidential speech writer’s idea of it) is ultimately a good one. 


Here’s the beginning of the story (that accompanies the documentary), for which I would like to offer a few corrections and comments. I can’t help it. I’m a writer. 

“Brazilians love to mix things up — never afraid to grab hold of an idea and incorporate it seamlessly into their constantly evolving culture. Take their national drink, the caipirinha, add fruit juice, and you have a caipifruta (try guava, passionfruit, or kiwi). And samba, the most Brazilian of dances, is itself a mix of African rhythms and European melodies. In Rio, they put a hip-hop beat to it, and call it “funky.””

I understand the initial paragraph is an opener to the rest of the story, but I have a few suggestions as I have a hard time seeing Brazil misrepresented. Caipifruta isn’t what the majority of Brazilians (if not the entire population) call a caipirinha with fruit. They call it a ‘caipirinha de (insert fruit here)’ such as the caipirinha de maracujá. The next correction is that in Rio, samba isn’t mixed with hip-hop and then called “funky.” Funk Carioca, as I have written about here, is something all together different, and so is the Brazilian hip-hop movement. Those two things being said, lets get on to the documentary! 


Brazil: The Obama Samba