Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Revolution of Afro-Reggae

In class, we watched a majority of the film Favela Rising. The movie was about the Afro-Reggae movement that took hold in the Vigario Geral favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rio has numerous favelas on the outskirts of the city, and they are all overridden with violence and drug gangs. Many people in the favelas are fearful to say anything or stand up to the drug lords that run the streets. A group of young men, who had chose to escape the drug life, began to change that through music.

Afro-Reggae came about as a means of bringing awareness to the favelas about the dangerous life of being a drug lord. Anderson was the main character we heard from in the film. I was really taken aback by his courage and willingness to do anything to help the people in Vigario Geral. His vivacity was contagious, and you could see why he was one of the leaders of the movement. His song lyrics talked of the tragedy that was being caused by youth dying so young at the hands of drugs. Despite his presence in the favela, many people still refused to listen his message. One of the most interesting scenes in the movie for me was when he was talking to the group of young boys. One in particular was not keen on talking to Anderson; he wouldn't even tell him his real name. The boy kept saying how he wanted to become a drug leader. Anderson kept telling him that was no life to live. That you never saw old drug leaders, and that was because they had died young as a result of their work.

This was not the only opposition that Anderson and his crew had to face. I, honestly, was surprised that there wasn't more than the one person we learned about in the video whose life was taken in connection with Afro-Reggae. I was very fearful when Anderson began telling us of the instance where a neighboring favela drug gang came to attack him. I was amazed that his fellow Afro-Reggae members were willing to die with him. The most shocking part occurred when the drug leader allowed Anderson to talk. This happened because he had heard of Anderson and what he was doing. Even though many people may have not agreed with the messages Afro-Reggae was dispersing, some drug lords were giving them respect. This is what saved Anderson and his friends that day.

I always knew that Rio had a troubled life for those that live in the favelas yet I was not aware that is was as terrible as we saw in the film. There are more people being massacred in Brazil than in the Middle East, which is a place that we associate with high levels of violence. I feel that this movie really points to the power and influence of music. For the youth and many others that lived in Vigario Geral, Afro-Reggae became their alternative to drug life. It provided them with an escape. For the Afro-Reggae leaders, their voices were finally heard, and they were able to get a record deal to promote their message to the world. I feel this is an ideal example of how something as simple as music can change the world or in this case a favela.  

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