Lisbon is especially interesting place for those who would like to discover not only Portuguese, but also Afrolusobrazilian culture.
It is a perfect place if you go to different Portuguese-speaking destinations, either as a stopover location or a final destination. To me Lisbon served as both for the past couple of years. After a brief episode of living in Portugal, I always felt certain nostalgia (cliche term of saudade is definitely relevant here) after this place and longing to travel to Portuguese-speaking destinations.
So last Christmas I gave my heart to the archipelago of Cabo Verde and of course, made a stopover in Lisbon. Apart from some very interesting animation show at the Praca de Comercio, there were some other highlights of that short stay, such as joining capoeiristas by the sunset.
This is where a friend of mine, who is very influenced by afrolusobrasilian culture, introduced me to some cultural associations and places where typically descendants of Portuguese-speaking African countries organize their concerts, events or festas.
I was also lucky to try the typical food from Cabo Verde: cachupa, before actually reaching my final destination. Be it Cabo Verde, Sao Tome e Principe, Moçambique, Angola or Guiné-Bissau, or even further in the world: Timor Leste, Goa or Macau – you will find all the places inside Lisbon, like travelling without moving.
Obviously, this has to do a lot with the history, and multiculturalism of Lisbon is an effect of post-colonialism processes. Upon my arrival from Cabo Verde I started digging deeper the topic of the descendants of the African countries living in Lisbon. ‘Nôs Terra’ shows the day-to-day specificities and also struggles of the Caboverdean community in Lisbon. It shows processes familiar to everyone who ever relocated, the in-between state of not belonging anywhere (the country of origin and current location).
I hope though that the unique multiculturality of Lisbon will stay a value itself. Music industry has already spotted Lisbon as one of the most interesting places in the world and so is becoming with art in general. There is no place like Lisbon, colourful, diverse and full of inspiration.
After giving this idea some time, some shape – there it is, a project of describing my personal journey through the soundscapes : sounds and landscapes from the Portuguese-speaking countries. A project derived from years of collecting memories and experiences of living and travelling in Portugal and Brazil, mixed with saudade – impossible to translate state of longing to distant places and faces. Inspired by the people met on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean who helped me to realise that Portuguese is not only another language I speak, but also a state of mind closest to my heart/soul, balancing somewhere between euphoria and melancholia.
When did it all start? I cannot trace back my first memories, but probably back in the day, it was Walter Salles movies, followed by Wim Wender’s ‘Lisbon Story’ when I became only curious about Portuguese language – both its version from Portugal, as from Brazil. First one having very Eastern European-like pronounciation, and the second one sounding like its lazy and soft family member.
Then, when I was 15, I tried free capoeira workshops in a modern dance summer school and fell in love with these sounds for good. I gave up the physical aspect of it after some months not being able to defend myself properly in roda against more flexible members but the curiosity to understand the Afrobrasilian culture was stronger than my muscles. I learned by heart our fighting chants and tried to find translations and learn my DIY Portuguese.
At the same time my musical gurus: Jazzanova, Gilles Peterson, Rainer Truby and 4 Hero, to name a few, presented various compilations with Brazilian 60s and 70s music and their creative remixes. At that time travelling, even to Portugal, was still quite a snobbish idea in Poland with no cheap airlines and no-Schengen. My curiosity even lead me to a crazy idea to pass the Baccalaureate from Portuguese as a foreign language, but no high school offered such classes at that time (!).
I had to wait until 2007 when I was admitted for the Erasmus exchange programme and when I passed my first summer in Portugal in the rural part of Beira Alta as a volunteer in the archaeological Roman village. Since then I decided to learn Portuguese for real and thanks to my first teacher, Dr Sylwia, who gratefully agreed to my participation in the classes for Spanish Philology students during the following 2 years. I have to acknowledge that it gave me a possibility to learn all the grammatical bases and meet, still in Poznan, equally interesting, future linguists and travelers! (Yes, I do hope you will read it).
Since 2009 I have been travelling and living abroad, in Portugal and Brazil included. Although nowadays I am based in Barcelona, I have to admit that my pursuit for the Portuguese sound has broadened my horizons towards the Westbound world and marked visibly my Southern personality. I truly believe in the future of the South-West direction not only in terms of the economic potential, but also cultural and social heritage, still unknown in the EU and the US.
The idea of this blog is very personal and subjective, as is for the most of the blogs (not?). I am not a linguistic specialist, nor a musical guru, even if there are a few who claim so, but I am passionate about those two topics and I would like to invite you for a journey through sounds and stories from the Lusofonia. I would like to say thanks to my inspirational and supportive friends, always eager to ask about my Lusoexperience, to listen to Lusomusic at and eventually, strongly encouraging me to create Lusofonetica where I could create my notebook to share.
I will try to translate the Portuguese meanings at the bottom of the posts, but if some meanings will remain unclear, I strongly invite you to ask. As well as to participate, comment, and criticize in this Lusospace!
To illustrate my concept, I attach you the recording from Elis Regina’s ‘Meio de campo’, where she describes humbly the creative process, without pretending to be the master of masters:
Prezado amigo Afonsinho
Eu continuo aqui mesmo
Aperfeiçoando o imperfeito
Dando tempo, dando um jeito
Desprezando a perfeição
Que a perfeição é uma meta
Defendida pelo goleiro
Que joga na seleção
E eu não sou Pelé, nem nada
Se muito for eu sou um Tostão
Fazer um gol nesta partida não é fácil, meu irmão
Entrou de bola, e tudo!
Lusofonetica, a soundscape from the joyful to the melancholic, or as we would rather say in Portuguese, entre alegria e saudade.
Lusofonia – a Portuguese noun to describe the Portuguese-speaking countries and territories
fonetica – phonetics
jeito – manner, way
saudade – longing, yearning
meio de campo – in the middle of the field
roda – ring, circle of people
capoeira – is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, and is sometimes referred to as a game