Today the 2014 World Cup in Brazil ends. It was a fun ride, and I don’t think that anyone will disagree that this has been an unforgettable month of international sport, politics, and drama both on and off the field. The video below is my attempt at showing another side of Rio de Janeiro and a few of the contrasting faces of this megacity. It takes place in different locations in the city on three different days of the World Cup:
In doing these periodic reports from Brazil on Africa is a Country, I set out to try and show a side of the country that perhaps would go under covered in the mainstream media. I suspected back in February that visitors to the country would be perplexed by its unique local nuances and many contradictions. Luckily there have been some great local projects and organizations working to amplify underrepresented voices in the country. However, while there has been some great reporting on the ground, the country’s inequality (especially evident in the areas where FIFA activity was concentrated), its team’s ugly and violent play on the field, and their embarrassing loss to the Germans have contributed to a growing unease with Brazil as a growing global super power, and perennial footballing one.
I, for one, can’t help but feel that feelings of unease towards certain more-visible aspects of the country just work to continue to marginalize those less-visible aspects of the country that we may learn from or find solidarity with. Brazil has been described to me by friends as the country of a future that never quite seems to arrive. This is what the mainstream media is referring to when they say Brazilians are mourning the death of a dream in the wake of their loss to Germany. But, we’ve been here before.
While some Brazilians use the Minerazo as a place to channel their frustration, for many others their government’s deals with an international body like FIFA in the run up to the Cup was all they needed show that the dream wasn’t being realized. For even others yet, the death of such a dream is a reality that renews daily, regardless of any mega event, as they come up against a host of impermeable social boundaries. The collective inferiority complex that seems to continually characterize Brazil is something that I can relate to in my own way. Ultimately, in the game of (both personal and national) global belonging I am not just ready for some new winners, I’m ready for new rules. Because those dreams that plague the Brazilian people often cause a state of limbo. The dreamer is stuck between heaven and hell as they await their ultimate judgement from those who made up the rules. Tomorrow, after everyone else has gone home, that’s the state that Brazil will be left in, again.