Lost Sambista

A Brazil never seen.

The Portuguese legacy to Brazil

There are many parallels with the United Kingdom / USA relationship when one looks at Portugal and Brazil, one discovered the other and one is the promised land of the other. There is a father/son thing going on but for many in Brazil this is an aging dad and for many in Portugal this is an arrogant kid who would rather forget his origins.

As Lost Samba is a book about Brazil we will see what goes on in the Brazilian side; here the traditional stereotype of the Portuguese is of a slow-witted, hard-working and uninteresting European. About them Brazilians make the same jokes that Americans make about Poles and that Englishmen do of the Irish, like “How many Portuguese does it take to change a lamp?”…

There is no hatred behind the making fun of them, just a slight disrespect and a certain regret for not having had better “parents”, it is not rare to hear “If only the British had colonized us…”. This attitude was probably brewed when the Portuguese court came to live in Rio de Janeiro after fleeing from Napoleon, and ruled their empire from Latin America. We would like to ask if these prejudices are correct? Did Brazil only inherit the worst from the most backward country in Western Europe?

In our view the answer is a clear NO. First of all the civilizational process that Portugal begun is not necessarily destined to be a mess, historically Brazil has been richer than the USA, and also, the world changes; the USA may be just another empire destined to dissipate, while Brazil, a melting pot tuned into the future may have a brilliant future ahead, no one knows how the future will be.

But let us go back to Portugal, more than Spain, in the age of the discoveries was one of the most advanced countries in the world. They learned a lot from the Arabs, in terms of navigation, mathematics and with less pressure from, and more resistance to, the Vatican in terms of inquisition they could apply what they had learned. It was a multicultural society that had spoken mostly Arabic for a few centuries and had an open mind to believe in science and invest in radical ideas such as navigating around the globe in a world clamped by a religious dogma that forced people to believe that the world was a flat plain at the center of the Universe.

After they conquered their independence from the Moors the ruling classes, religious and secular, embarked in a heretical vein of Christianity that would mark profoundly what Brazil is, or what it should be about, Summing it up in a few words, they believed that the “Father” was what was in the Old Testament: laws, rigidity etc.. the “Son” were the heavenly ideals brought by the Christ, and now there would be the “Holy Spirit“, the a pure spirit among human beings that would bring about paradise on earth.

Although it would end up being suppressed by the Vatican there are still remnants of this vein of Christianity alive in Portugal and in Brazil. It is not our goal to prove this, but to say that this legacy of generosity and acceptance to humanity in all its forms is rooted deep in the Brazilian soul and character. Some may say too deep hard to find, rusty and obsolete but it is surely there.

Portugal’s legacy to Brazil goes further than the material success that the Anglo Saxons brought to their civilization further North. It is a poetic promise, a vision of a better world, a paradise on earth where we will be more worried about being happy than serving a machine run by an elite in order for them to accumulate richness and for us to make ends meet.

May every Brazilian be proud of their Portuguese fathers.

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