The streets of Central in Rio de Janeiro is the setting for a new project I’ve been working on while in Rio. To the left of Central station lies a bustling Afro-Brazilian community, amongst them live and work African immigrants. Many of whom have lived in Brazil for over 10 years and consider Brazil home. They’ve built a sweet success for themselves by working hard. But what’s to show for it? The streets are paved with historic buildings crumbling from years, decades and perhaps a century of neglect. Many are abandoned and have become home to squatters. Drugs and prostitution is rife… What goes on inside is not the business of an outsider.
Central Street Success is a photographic documentation of 5 native Africans who work on the streets of Central. Here’s a small taster of the lives of Africans living in Rio.
Sampson Nketia, shoemaker (Ghana)
Why did you choose to come to Brazil?
I came to Brazil to see the place. I just arrived 2 weeks now. Before I was in Russia for 2 years. It was difficult because people in Russia have lack of respect for black (people). They are racist! I was working as a commercial buyer. Sometimes they won’t make business with you because you are black.
How has your experience been in Brazil?
“It’s every hot (laughs). It’s like Africa here. I arrived from Russia which gets -18 degrees sometimes, to Rio here in this heat! Brazilians are nice people though. So kind. But! They are dirty (laughs). They can just piss anywhere on the street (laughs).”
What does success mean to you?
“Unless I win the lotto or something (laughs). Money isn’t everything but it is a necessary means to get by. You can not ask a poor person ‘what does success mean to him’. Anyway it is my secret (touches his heart), you know what I mean?”
Is Brazil home?
“Well, i just arrived here so ask me in 3 months time! But here is free. There is peace. If you don’t have peace you can’t get on anywhere… My dream home is Australia! I was there for 2 months. I want to return there to live for good.”
- Central Street Success pt3 (travelmakerkai.wordpress.com)
- Central Street Success pt1 (travelmakerkai.wordpress.com)
- Central Street Success pt2 (travelmakerkai.wordpress.com)
- Central Street Success pt5 (travelmakerkai.wordpress.com)
- Central Street Success pt4 (travelmakerkai.wordpress.com)
- A lighter shade of Black… Observations of racial identity in Rio (travelmakerkai.wordpress.com)