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La Rica Promotes Jamaican Music, Culture In Brazil

Published:Thursday | April 28, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Lapa, Brazil

Jamaicans can be found settling in all corners of the world, with Brazil being no exception. A shared colonial history brings to the fore unavoidable similarities between the two cultures.

"There are lots of similarities culturally speaking in regards to the Afro-Brazilian influence in the food, religious practices similar to Jamaican Kumina, and like Jamaica, (there is) a legacy linked to the production of sugar cane, coffee and banana," Tiyone Leigh told The Gleaner.

Leigh travelled to Brazil in 2013 to further his studies. Over the years, he has come to draw comparisons between the culture he knows in Jamaica and the fresh culture in which he is now immersed. He explained that a recent debate sprung up among friends, highlighting vast cultural differences that exist among the various regions and states of Brazil in terms of food, music, accent and even demographic.

But for those Jamaicans preparing to visit Rio de Janiero, Pedra do Sal is listed as one potential destination. It is the centre of an area locally known as Little Africa and serves as a historical and religious monument. Other places of interest include Santa Teresa and the cradle of 'Bohemian Rio', Lapa, which is famous for its architecture and attracting artists and intellectuals.

"The funk music scene is very similar to our dancehall culture," Leigh said. And as it relates to mode of dress and social origin, "[It] sometimes emulates aspects of the Jamaican dancehall, American hip hop and rap. Dancehall music is growing in popularity here with music and dances from artistes like Spice."

According to Leigh, reggae in Brazil has an identifiable but intricate place.


"National reggae is big here, and there is even a state in the North called Maranhao, which has the nickname of the 'Brazilian Jamaica' because of reggae's popularity there."

The food in Rio de Janeiro is not as diverse as expected, as Leigh says, "Brazilians tend to have a general fear of pepper."

In response to this, Leigh volunteers along with 15 other persons for La Rica, a Jamaican cultural collective.

"They promote Jamaican cuisine, music and culture with the aim of breaking the stereotypes linked to Jamaica while offering an authentic experience. There are three other Jamaicans who are not fixed members of the team, but help with events and cultural promotion."

The collective hosts several events monthly, selling Jamaican-style patties, ackee and saltfish, jerk, sweet potato puddings and other traditional treats at Pedra do Sal.

Other famous tourist sites include the Cristo Redentor, Pao de Acucar, Pedra da Gavea, Floresta Tijuca, Jardim Botanico, Aproador, and the Centro, which is the Old Historic City with amazing architecture, museums and sites.