Explaining Brazil #68: Discovering Rio’s Little Africa

The name Little Africa, Pequena África in Portuguese, has been featured in books, songs, and lyrics of famous samba schools. But it remains unknown to most people—Brazilians included.

That’s not by chance. In a conscious effort to erase Rio’s black traits, the city has literally paved over places were black intellectuals, artists, and runaway slaves once walked. This week, we dig up that history.

A special thanks to professor Maurício Santoro, who made himself available and took reporter Edmund Ruge for a tour in Little Africa.

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On this episode:

  • Mauricio Santoro holds a Ph.D. in Political Science. He is currently Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of International Relations at the State University of Rio de Janeiro. He also writes op-eds for The Brazilian Report.
  • Edmund Ruge is a freelance journalist based in Rio de Janeiro. He holds a Master’s Degree in International Economics and Latin American Studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Map of Little Africa

little africa rio de janeiro

Background reading:

Explaining Brazil is made by:

  • Gustavo Ribeiro, editor in chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de São Paulo, Médiapart and Radio France Internationale.
  • Maria Martha Bruno, producer. She is a journalist with 15 years of experience in politics, arts, and breaking news. She has collaborated with Al Jazeera, NBC, and CNN, among others, and worked as an international correspondent in Buenos Aires.
  • Euan Marshall, editing. is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.

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