Muito Como Um Rei :Afro-Brazilian Need for Educational Role Models
Rex Nielson, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
This research project attempts to engage in a new verbal dialogue in the field of research about Afro-Brazilian masculinity and educational systems through the lens of literature. The novel Muito Como Um Rei (2015) is a recently published novel by the Afro-Brazilian writer Fábio Mandingo that provides an interesting view of Afro-Brazilian heterosexual culture.
There are many themes other than gender differences discussed in this novel, one of which is an examination of the education system in Salvador. No scholarly articles have yet been published on this new novel. My analysis begins the discussion of Mandingo’s depiction of masculinity and the education system in Salvador and its effects upon the Afro-Brazilian population which appears in Muito Como Um Rei.
In order to complete this research project, I travelled to Salvador Brazil and interviewed different professionals about the education system there. I was also a Foreign Languages and Area Studies scholarship recipient and participated in a language course with the ACBEU language school in Salvador. Outside of language classes, I attended lectures at the school about Afro-Brazilian culture, politics, and religion. Among other things, we discussed the success of current government implemented solutions to current social problems in Salvador. I also had the opportunity to interview professor Cloves Oliveira who teaches at the Universidade Federal da Bahia, Claudia Oliveira a director at the school Colégio Estadual Satélite which is a school in an underdeveloped part of Salvador, and Daniela Lordelo Leal Conto a director at Colégio Estadual Evaristo da Veiga a school in a middle class neighborhood. I ended the process with a literary analysis of Muito Como um Rei, by Fábio Mandingo and the way in which the education system and support of the system is critiqued in Mandingo’s novel.
In my analysis of the novel, Muito Como um Rei, the title of the novel proves the need for the Afro-Brazilian culture to believe in a better future and to find role models who have succeeded in those areas and can prove that the rising generation can achieve their dreams. There are many monetary challenges facing schools in violent and poverty stricken areas, but the lack of proper role models was described in the interviews of Cloves Oliveira and Claudia Oliveira as a reason for the lack of success.
Both explained how those children growing up in underprivileged or violent areas of Salvador lack proper role models of the effects of successful educational pursuits. They described this as a key solution to aiding in many of the educational problems that current young men, and all children coming from violent and underprivileged backgrounds face. Daniela Conto explained that there does need to be a unique teaching approach to children coming from violent and lower-class situations, which accounts for their difficulties in learning and allows for a more flexible environment.
Throughout the novel Muito Como um Rei, there is the lack of role models who encourage the young men in their abilities to dream. Of those who do encourage their dreaming, few encourage them to dream of a future in which they can aspire to higher educational and professional achievements other than through the athletic world. This is precisely what Cloves Oliveira claimed the root problem was for the struggling children in underfunded schools in Salvador. Much of my research focused on analyzing this specific novel, and interviewing directors from schools in Salvador. However, it is necessary to more profoundly research the educational system in all of Brazil, as well as analyze the effects of current attempts to provide educational role models for young Afro-Brazilian students.
I was able to tour one such NGO titled Steve Biko, which gives scholarships to Afro-Brazilian students to have study opportunities for their college entrance exams, and where there are successful examples of Afro-Brazilian’s who have gone on to successfully gain higher education. There are some NGO’s which are currently operating within the Afro-Brazilian population, but there is a much greater need for research into the methods and success of these organizations.
According to both my literary analysis and interviews of educational professionals within Brazil, there are many opportunities for improvement within the Afro-Brazilian educational system. Due to time constraints, my research could only provide a surface understanding of the current needs of the educational system in Brazil. There is much more to be discovered about the current system before adequate solutions concerning this issue can be implemented within Afro-Brazilian society.