This article first appeared in June, 2007 in Sunday Trust, published in Abuja, Nigeria
You have probably not met many Nigerians who have been to Brazil. The reasons are obvious; the country is located in far away Latin America, and to get to any Brazilian city directly from Nigeria, you spend close to 20 hours by air, which translates to expensive airline ticket. This, coupled with the fact that the country’s language is Portuguese, not many Nigerians do go; either for tourism, business or studies. But I tell you, if you have the means, do find time to visit Brazil, whose national slogan is um pais de todos, meaning; a country for all; and indeed it is, as I relate my Brazilian experience in the following pages.
A typical trip to Brazil from Nigeria starts from say, Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano at about 11pmand by 6am the following morning; you arrive at Schipol Airport, Amsterdam. There, you take a flight to São Paulo, the largest city in Latin America. You may however leave from Murtala Muhammed International Airport,Lagos, through South Africa and then to São Paulo. It is a very long journey indeed; approximately 11 hours of uninterrupted flight. In my case, having arrived at São Paulo, I took a flight to Salvador in Bahia state, which, by the way, is the capital of black people in Brazil and was at one time the capital of the country itself. Perhaps in the future, I shall tell you more about this historic city, with its beautiful beaches and rich African culture (particularly Yoruba). But Salvador was not my destination. I headed to the heart of Northeastern Brazil the following morning, to Fortaleza; a coastal city that I fell in love with upon my first arrival in 2003. Fortaleza is the capital of Ceara state and is one of the most beautiful places in Brazil. Its numerous beautiful beaches make up for the tropical heat that runs all the year round. It is, by any standard, a modern city; from the sky scrapers to road network, modern airport and seaport and buildings, it leaves you with a lasting impression. I was to spend more than two years studying Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the city. Of course I shall not bore you with my academic pursuits in Brazil. I’ll rather talk about the beauty and grandeur of some of the Brazilian cities I’ve been to in general, and Fortaleza in particular. I shall present to you, Brazil and its complexities; a country whose record in the fight against hunger and destitution is unprecedented, the country of soccer and carnaval, a powerhouse of agribusiness, fiber optics, space research, the Genome Project, deep-sea oil drilling and innovative software.
Like I said earlier, the national slogan of Brazil is um pais de todos. It doesn’t require a cursory look at the Country to believe in the accuracy of this slogan. Brazil is indeed a Country for all. With a population close to 200 million and accommodating the world’s largest biodiversity, the country is apparently destined to play some important role in the World. In Brazil, you meet all sorts of colors; Caucasians, Hispanics, people with Arabian looks, Indian looking, Yoruba, Fulani, the list goes on and on. And they are all Brazilians; the teenager I saw the other day at Itapoa, a neighborhood in Salvador reminded me so much of the typical Hausa girl; the vendor of the famous acaraje (a typical Bahian cake, actually derived from the Yoruba word, akara), leaves you with the memory of a certain Funke you knew back in Lagos; one of my lecturers reminded me of a famous Indian actor; the man behind the counter at an all night drug store looked like the Israeli Prime Minister; the bus driver I took the other day, reminded me of Goerge Bush. The apparent genetic diversity is amazing.
Brazilians are a very nice people; welcoming and entertaining. There is a lot of American influence in the Brazilian style of living. From the number of McDonalds around, to the erroneous assumption that expatriates that speak English (yours truly inclusive) are Americans, to the apparent disappointment written on the face of the person who assumed so, upon discovering that you are indeed an African, down to the liters of coca cola consumed by a given number of inhabitants of a certain neighborhood. But there is a kind of beauty in this diversity. They all speak the same language; Portuguese. They travel during Easter, they adore feijoada (a typical Brazilian delicacy made with beans and meat, a lot of it); they rejoice during the famous carnaval; they enjoy parties and are damn good in football (as if you don’t know).
I share with you some data I extracted from Època, a popular Brazilian magazine. In its edition of 30th May 2005, the paper published a report titled O brasileiro em numeros-Brazilian in numbers. The report attempted to define the modern-day Brazilian, giving numbers on what he does, what he thinks and who he really is. It painted a picture of the very Brazilian I encountered every day, describing a metropolitan Brazilian as having a unique face and attitude. The rich, the middle class and the poor all have a selective consumption and a dream. In general, Brazilian is an optimist, indoor, proud of his Country, hard-working, vain, religious and party freak who can not survive without a cell phone.
Brazilians are among the top 3 working class citizens in the world, with 41 %, surpassed only by China and Mexico with 46.5 % and 44 % respectively. Up to 62 % of Brazilians prefer to stay at home and enjoy their leisure time, watching the numerous TV shows. Half of the adult population does not sleep well at least once in a week and in the major cities, Brazilians spend at least 2 hours on transit and 40 % have cars. Hope and optimism seem to be high for Brazilians, where 80 % believe that the future is brighter and 63 % think life now is better than before. Solidarity is an important factor in Brazilian life; only 10% of the Brazilians believe in “Everyone for him self and God for all”. Only 46 % Brazilians think that a family is only complete when there are children and like the Americans, Brazilians have an average of 2 Children.
And turning to vanity, everyday, 1,704 Brazilians undergo plastic surgery and one in every 15 men use beauty cream, 26% use designer clothes and 8% buy things their favorite artists use. Up to 30 million Brazilians are connected to the Internet, spending about 14 hours per month. Although only 29% go to church every week, 86% believe that faith in God is fundamental. There are lots of details I have left out for lack of space. I however hope to return to this interesting topic later.
On the economic front, Brazilians are enterprising and poised for technological advancements. I could count the number of Made in Germany, Japan, USA, products in our laboratory. The autoclave I used to sterilize working materials was made in Brazil, so were most of the equipment. At this rate, Brazilian future is bright indeed. The country’s financial institution, Banco do Brasil, offers credits for both local and foreign trade and, to facilitate export, the Brazilian Mail and Telegraph Company (ECT) launched the easy export package (Exporta facil), which permits small-scale exporters to dispatch their merchandize all over the World. The country is among the top 30 traders in the World, exporting a wide range of products. For example, almost half of Mexico’s buses and coaches are manufactured in Brazil. In Argentina, 70% of the foot wear and 30% of telephone sets are made in Brazil. No less than 20% of the vehicles on the roads in Chile, 10% of electric motors in the UK and 24% of the leather and skins sold in Italy are from Brazil. The Country is the second largest producer of roof tile and refrigerator compressors and ranks 4th among beer makers, 5th among producers of gasoline, 6th in outputs of CDs, 7th in the production of corrugated paper, chemical products and canned foods.
The Brazilian science is up-to-date and vibrant. It is the only country in the southern Hemisphere involved in the Human Genome Project. The Biotechnology sector of Brazil has grown more than 300% in the past years with the cloning of a Simental breed heifer called Vitoria and the development of different transgenic programs that will impact positively in the lives of Brazilians.
In spite of the categorization of the Country among the Developing Countries and the medal of corruption courtesy of Transparency International, the Country is set to achieve greater heights. The resilience of a typical Brazilian is phenomenal and can be contagious. Often they spend the entire week working from am to 9 pm and over the weekends, they rejoice and make merry way in to the Sunday night, but by Monday morning, they are there at work and on time.
Portuguese, the medium of communication in Brazil is such a difficult language. Even the Brazilians know and say that much. For example, we say in English: We/I/they/you eat, sleep etc. In Portuguese, it is so radically different that you will gape in astonishment. When the noun or pronoun changes in Portuguese, the verb also changes. I will is Eu vou, they will is Eles vão, we will is Nós vamos etc. At first, while I could, without the slightest hesitation explain the theory of capillarity of water, or the capturing of light energy by the pigments in green plants alongside incorporation of carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrates in plants, I would more than hesitate to explain the same in Portuguese. Not anymore. But there are some similarities between Portuguese and English, probably some Latin connection. You have to understand both languages to appreciate this fact very well. Most of the English words that end with -ty in Portuguese, end with -dade, so city becomes cidade, hostility is hostilidade. Also, most English words that end with –tional, in Portuguese, end with –cional. International is interncional. Completely is completamente, generally is geralmente, principally is principalmente etc.
The standard and quality of education in Brazil is very high indeed. Undergraduate and graduate studies are generally of very high quality and you study everything in Portuguese. Almost all postgraduate students in Brazil are paid a monthly allowance to study. A highly efficient educational system is coordinated by Government agencies like Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), who offer scholarships to students within and out side Brazil, including foreigners whose countries hold bilateral agreements with Brazil (Nigeria is one of such countries). This writer was a direct beneficiary of such fellowship. At a certain time, I represented foreign students under the CAPES/CNPq fellowship program known as Programa de Estudante-Convênio de Pós-Graduação (PEC-PG), during a meeting in Recife, the capital of Pernumbuco, which is the home state of the current Brazilian president. Recife is another city in Northeastern Brazil and my first most vivid aerial view of the city was that it struck one as some kind of island. Indeed I was to be told, by a Chilean tourist guide at the airport that the city was composed of three islands. No one needed to tell me that it was one of the biggest cities in Brazil. During the meeting, we shared experiences and presented problems on the part of the students and academic communities of Northeast of Brazil. There I met students from different parts of the world, especially Panama, Argentina, Guinea-Bissau and our very own Nigeria. After a plenary session, a working group was inaugurated and together we drafted a communiqué for the workshop. In my presentation, I made a point of the need for a better awareness of the program in Counties like Nigeria that more people will enjoy the benefit (In case you are interested, access www.capes.gov.br). But first, be sure to learn Portuguese language as it is a prerequisite to enjoying some of the fellowships. I believe you can learn at ObafemiAwolowoUniversity, Ile-Ife,Nigeria.
From a television show, I learnt that women comprise the highest number of people who receive education in Brazil, making about 45 % of workforce in the Country. This is probably expected, in a country where the ratio of female: male population is high in favor of the females. The thrust, zeal and the quality of the education received is remarkable. This however does not mean that all youths are engaged in school. You could be mugged by a teenager at night, you see the type that scrub wind screen at traffic junctions etc. Presently, a national program known as Bolsa Familia seeks to reduce the number of children on the streets by giving parents incentives to send their wards to school.
Perhaps we should now talk about the theme you have been so eagerly waiting for; Football. If ordinarily, it is impossible to live in Brazil and not catch the football fever, you can imagine how high such a fever will be in an era of World cup. During the recently concluded Germany 2006, the whole Country was thrown in a frenzy of limitless dimension symbolized by the ardent, emotional and even fanatical support of the Brazilian team in Germany. From city to city, fortress to fortress, villages and towns, the World cup fever gripped the entire Brazilian populace, barely leaving some space for the daily routines of life. Preparations for World cup started more than two months before the game. For example, the most influential Brazilian television station, Globo chronicled a series of documentaries, interviews and special reports on Brazilian soccer and her major players. To say that Brazilians are crazy about football is an understatement. But you need to be there to appreciate this fact. Every single thread that makes up the fabric of the Brazilian identity is embedded in an incredible passion for football. There is no boundary between this passion and age, location, principles, status, race, region or religion. The Brazilian love for football is unflinching and uncompromised, it is in the blood. And it is so infectious that the likes of yours truly, who never really liked football ended up joining the club.
In a season of World cup, every single marketing strategy of TV advert ultimately had an undertone of football. From the supermarkets to the multinationals like Coca cola or Mc Donalds, the effect is unmistakable. There was a particular advert I found very funny indeed. The scene starts with the Brazilian team reciting the National anthem in a football team, showing all the Brazilian soccer stars amidst who is Argentina’s Maradona, wearing the Brazilian green and yellow jersey. Next he (Maradona) is shown waking up and sweating profusely, this time with Argentina’s jersey and on his bedside table are cans of Guarana antartica, a very popular soft drink made in Brazil. It was a dream. With a heavy accent, he says; Caramba! Que pesadelo. Eu estou tomado ‘mucho’ Guarana antartica (Which means; my goodness! What a nightmare. I must have been drinking too much Guarana antartica.). There is a strong rivalry between the Countries especially in Football. Television series, comedies, soap operas and jingles were all replete with the football fever. During world cup, probably 8 out of every 10 cars in Brazil have the Brazilian flag glued to its window. Houses, lawns, gardens, streets, trees, and even laboratories are decorated with the famous green and yellow colors of Brazil. And in the fashion world? There is virtually no kind of dress you can not get with the green and yellow colors. T-shirts, caps, towels, bed sheets, shoes, bangles, ear rings, necklace, ribbons, flowers, eyeglasses, it is endless. Why? There were foods like a plate of rice and snacks with the green and yellow colors. It is highly impressive. Even the contours on the faces of news casters change when they talk about football. Discussions of the highest national importance often end up with a bet on the scores of World cup. For example, the other day when the French Prime Minister visited Brazil, the last question President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva asked him was “Who do you think shall win the World cup?” These are the Brazilians, the World’s superpower in football.
Naturally, a write-up of this nature will be incomplete without a word or two on the famous Brazilian carnaval. You probably have watched a typical procession on TV, but that’s different and no matter how hard one tries to describe the festival, one will not be able to tell you how beautiful it is. In Fortaleza, where they claim the festival is weak, Fortalezans travel to neighboring states of Recife, Pernembuco, Salvador and some as far as Rio de Janeiro. It was a five days event of uninhibited festivities. At night I watched the procession of the various schools of samba at the famous Fortaleza carnaval with its famous Maracatu beats. The biggest avenue in the city was selected for the event. Amidst cheering from the crowd, various schools of samba pass by with virtually each neighborhood in the city represented by a school. Participants pass along the avenue to be evaluated on the basis of glamour, style, and dance steps, costumes etc. It was apparent that these dramatic processions often have African origins or at least some African undertones. Every night after the procession, there were live shows at the end of the avenue. This went on for five consecutive nights, from dusk to dawn. Because carnaval is about looking what you want to look, people wore masks, ridiculous clothes. Where ever you turn its party as if the world will never end. Walking along the avenue, you will most certainly be sprayed with foam, egg or powder. It makes no difference how old or young you are. Everyone is out to catch fun and therefore goes crazy at this time of the year. Its carnaval. It’s a culture, a way of life and we, the foreigners, were there to witness it.
Brazilian entertainment industry is very rich indeed. Perhaps you remember the once popular soap opera, The Rich Also Cry (Os Ricos tambem Choram). It was a Brazilian production. Soap operas (Novelas) make an important part of the Brazilian life, especially among the women. Everyday, at least five different soap operas are broadcasted nationwide by the Globo network, each with a specific theme. In the afternoons, old soap operas are replayed because, as they say, vale apena ver de novo (it is worth watching again). Later, a teenage based TV series is broadcasted while at night you watch the two hottest soap operas which often truly shape the lives of Brazilian; always preaching on such values as love, respect, family, religion, patriotism etc.(One remembers with nostalgia such Novelas as America, Belissima, Paginas de Vida, A lua Me Disse, Cobras e Lagartos). Other mini programs and comedies are there to entertain viewers. Famous among these are Sob Nova Direcao, A Grande Familia, A Diarista and Casetta e Planeta. Documentaries, reports and children television programs (the popular TV Xuxa) are also highly educative. An army of Professionals like Pedro Bial, William Bonner, Fatima, Gugu, Faustao, Ana Paula and many more, call the shots in the Brazilian entertainment industry.
Of course you often detect that stereotyped report on the negative aspect of African Countries as being a continent where everybody lives on trees, hungry and miserable. You may be asked such questions as “How did you get here, since you don’t have airport in Nigeria?”, “Do you have TV there?” “Are you guys all hungry and at war?” etc. You hardly blame the poor Brazilian who asks such questions, since that is what the TV gives him to understand. Dispelling these wrong notions is a difficult task indeed. The Muslim identity of this writer was also a subject of some funny questions that betray sheer ignorance of Islam. For example, a well respected Brazilian magazine, Veja, in its edition of 20th July, 2005, had an interview with Sheikh Ali Mohammed Abdouni, President of the Supreme Council of Islam, in Brazil. One of the questions it directed to the Sheikh was “Is it true that female genital mutilation is predominant in Muslim Countries?” If this is the question from the editor, you can imagine what the readers will ask, let alone the man on the street.
Literature and Music
Perhaps you have never heard of Machado de Assis (1839-1906), despite your degree in literature. Well, those who read his work unfailingly acknowledge his rare talent, which generally evoke strong sense of perplexity and admiration among critics and literary circles. He was one of the greatest writers of all time. Names like Guimaraes Rosa and Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Vinicius Moraes, Paulo Coelho etc are synonymous with the Brazilian literature.
Upon discovering the richness of Brazilian music, my reaction was; how on earth could I have missed this all along? Though in Portuguese, you can’t miss the ingenuity and artistry of the Brazilian music. You probably think that the only music/dance in Brazil is Samba. No it is not sir! Brazilian music is a fusion of Iberian, African and Amerindian influences endowed with “racial fatality”, to use the words of the musicologist Mario de Andrade. High up in the Brazilian music you find names like Roberto Carlos, Tom Jobim, of the Garota de Ipanema (the girl from Ipanema) fame, Djavan, Baden, Chico Buarque, Gilberto Gil, Caetane Veloso, Renato Russo, Alcione etc. From the classics of Bossa Nova, to Pagode where such names as Martinho da Vila, Zeca Pagodinho, Dudu Nobre hold sway, to country music or Sertaneja sang by Bruno e Morrone (my favorite), Daniel, Zeze de Camargo e Luciano, Rio Negro etc. You have the Brazilian pop (MPB) where you list such musicians as, Marjorie Estiano, J. Quest, Biquini Cavadao etc. From Bahia, comes the popular Ache music, with obvious African undertones, from Ivete Sangalo, Asa de Aguiar, Latino etc. Regional music like Forror and Calypso is popular in Northern Brazil, where Avioes de Forror, and Banda Calypso hold sway. Recently, there is the Funky music. So you have a variety of options to choose from.
Perhaps we should now take a closer look at Fortaleza, the city. Jovita Feitosa is a very busy and important metropolitan way inFortaleza. Apart from the fact that it links the two biggest campuses of the Federal University of Ceara, it houses such important facilities and buildings like shopping centers, beautifully decorated churches, commercial shops, body fitness centers, city squares and a lot of restaurants, bars and schools. Yours truly lived in this avenue in a three-storey building with about twenty or so apartments.
A place to catch fun, relax or simply stroll around is never in short supply. You have a wide variety of options. If you are a party goer, you can be sure that you will be well taken care of. From the popular clubs, where you dance to the tune of the famous forro music; the glamorous and expensive buffet restaurants, where you eat the most exotic delicacy while watching a live band playing Renato Russo’s Ha tempo; to a Japanese sushi bar or sea food restaurant where you devour lobster and crabs (caranguejo). You may choose to go to a circus and watch the acrobats and performing animals or take a walk to Dragão do Mar, a cultural center where you have museums, theaters, restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, live shows or just sit at a square to watch and be watched. There are the luxurious cinemas where you may watch the Oscar winning movie, Crash while munching popcorn. Most of these you do at night. During the day, you may want to go to one of the numerous beautiful beaches where you swim, or as in my case, paddle in the ocean with intervals for drinking coconut water. Apart from the cinema, my favorite way of relaxation is actually taking a stroll to the Iracema beach with a stop at a metallic bridge that extends some meters into the ocean.
On a certain Sunday afternoon, as I stood on the bridge looking at the now angry surging waves from the ocean spotted by about five Jangada boats and a huge ship sailing either away or on, for I could not tell which way, I experienced a feeling of elation and nostalgia all at once. For, looking at the ocean, its beauty and intimidating waves leaves you with a solemn feeling as if you are being beckoned by the rustling of angel’s wings. Some crazy thought crossed my mind, that if I swam on from where I stood, I will probably appear in some coastal city ofNigeria.
And around me, were love, laughter and tranquility. Teenagers laughing, a couple holding hands and looking at the ocean, tourist taking pictures and I looking at the whole scene and marveling and wondering how could I have missed this all this while. An old woman walking a dog passed by giving me a curious look, probably wondering what’s he doing here?
There is probably nothing more beautiful than watching the sun set from the bridge. I was totally fascinated by the now golden color of the sun with the bronzy streaks of the clouds. As the sun disappeared I stole a look at a guy’s wristwatch. The time was 5:48 pm. A police helicopter circling up in the sky just passed by as the sun disappeared. Then a jazz music broke from a live band behind me and I returned to sit on the long wooden bench mounted on the bridge. A vendor of chocolate and candies, with a very lady like manner, who apparently mistook me for a tourist, speaking near pathetic English approached me. He spoke for about three minutes in “English” and the only words I could understand were America and Chocolate. He was shocked when I responded in Portuguese. He walked away.
At night, you can see, from the bridge, a reasonable part of the coastal region of the city spanning some 10 km. From the whizzing windmills at the eastern region, the city seaport, Beira Mar beach, Iracema (where I stood) and on and on. A mad woman passed by, at the sight of whom some young girls took to their heels. But she was apparently harmless. When the jazz band stopped playing, I joined a group of guitarists and by the time I took a bus back home, I knew I will always frequent the metallic bridge. That was Fortaleza, Terra do sol
And I was in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. On a certain Saturday towards evening, I toured the city, discovering its tourist attraction sites, beauty and grandeur. For the first time in Brazil, I saw a mosque and even prayed in it. It was at the Brasilia Center for Islamic Culture, which is coordinated by the Egyptian High Commission in Brazil. I met the Sheik, a friendly fellow, probably in his late forties who actually gave me a copy of The Qurán in Portugues.
Before anything else, you must know that, Brasilia is an artificial city (something like our own Abuja). Designed by a famous Brazilian Architect, Oscar Niemeyer, it was built based on the shape of airplane. Our first point of call was the city TV tower from where I could see the entire city cuddled by pockets of rapidly growing satellite towns and suburbs. Along the body of the aeroplane lies the biggest avenue in the city, leading to the pilot’s cockpit which houses the State house of assembly and the Senate building. Some meters before, the magnificent modern city cathedral cannot escape your sight after which you pass the Ministerial buildings lined on both sides of the avenue (corresponding to business class) before arriving at the legislative building. What amazes you first are the twin towers located at the center of the building separated by two domes below which are magnificent reflecting ponds. The two domes represent a symbol of power to the people. The plenary chambers of both houses are indeed located within the concave dome (chamber of representatives) and the convex dome (senate floor). Having signed the visitor’s register, we were ushered in to the first hall (known as the black hall) which is used for official receptions, events and exhibitions. Next is the noble hall, which, on weekdays, only heads of states and government officials on courtesy calls to the speaker enter. Passing the green chamber, we entered into the floor, which has 396 seats and 401 desks with sophisticated voting devices for 513 members. Connecting the two floors are tunnels, walking through which is like taking a trip in the Brazilian political history, for dotted here and there are historical antiques, pictures and works of art. At the far end of the building, are flags of all the states in Brazil. In appreciation of the hospitality I enjoyed in Ceará state, I held out its flag. I also held out Bahia state flag, the home of Africans in Brazil. The senate floor is smaller but more sophisticated and Chique.
From the legislature, we walked to the State house itself, where Mr. Lula works. What attract you first are the projecting wings emerging from the building and then the State guards known as the Dragons of independence and created as far back as 1808 of ImperialBrazil. They still use the same uniform and are a sight to behold. Passing through security checkpoint, we climbed up to the eastern hall, which houses a sofa from the 18th century. Hanging on the wall, is a magnificent piece of artwork by a famous Brazilian artist, Burle Marx. It is in this hall that Brazilian President receives new ambassadors. Imagine using a slope instead of a staircase, to climb up a building. Well, that is the access to the presidential chamber. Climbing upon the slope, you have a clear view of the handing-over platform. Next you enter the West hall, where presidential acts are signed. Brazilians spent less money than Nigeria, at least in constructing the Presidential meeting room, where Federal Executive Council meetings are held. It is magnificent, but much simpler than ours. In the hall leading to the President’s office, a picture gallery of all former Presidents and Heads of states beckons you. We could not enter into the office, but we got its entire view through a glass door. It is simple and homely.
Next, we went to the city cathedral, which at first sight deceives you as being on the ground, when in actual fact, it is underground. It is beautiful, highly decorated and was commissioned by the Pope himself. The house of the president was our last point of call. You do not enter but can watch from a far.
These last couple of years I spent in Brazil were probably the most formative years of my life. My stay in Brazil was marked by self rediscovery; of studying from dusk to dawn; of having to integrate into a new and entirely different culture. It was marked by moments of soul-searching and progressive evolution. From the solitude of living in a foreign land, to the wonderful moments with friends and the founding of a new family. It is a society that helps you understand better, your fellow human beings to be able to understand our prejudices and weaknesses; our ignorance and intelligence. It teaches you to endure and to forgive, strengthening you to be faithful to your duty and to your personal truth. It has taught me to see beyond the prism of my personal prejudices that hitherto be clouded my vision. It has taught me to do everything that’s worth doing without cutting corners. It has taught me to work harder and resist corruption. It has taught me to be more patriotic to my Country, to be patient in the discharge of my duty and to learn and teach more. If you spend the time I did in Brazil, it will certainly do the same to you. My research work, which was a study based on the use of friable embryogenic callus in the in vitro regeneration and production of genetically modified cassava is dedicated to those who believe and struggle, who persevere and inspire, who give, day in and day out, without expecting nothing in return; for a better humanity; to the survivors.
In Brazil, they have this soul reinvigorating expression; Sou Brasileiro, desisto nunca. Meaning, I am a Brazilian and will never give up. Let’s not give up in building a better Nigeria too.