The streets of Central in Rio de Janeiro is the setting for a new project I’ve been working on while in Rio. Behind the grande façade of Central station; Rio’s most important railway station, lies a bustling Afro-Brazilian community. Amongst them live and work African migrants, many of whom have lived in Brazil for over 10 years and consider Brazil home. They’ve built a sweet success on the streets for themselves by hustling and working hard. But what’s to show for it? The historic buildings which were once the pride of Rio, built by African slaves, are crumbling from years, decades and perhaps a century of neglect. Many are abandoned and have become home to squatters. Drugs and prostitution is rife… What goes on inside is not the business of an outsider.
Central Street Success is a photographic documentation of 7 native Africans who work on the streets of Central. Here’s a small taster of the lives of Africans living in Rio.
Kyei Henry, bar owner (Ghana)
Why did you chose to come to Rio?
“I came for to visit then I stayed a long time. 17 years in Rio”
How did you start your business?
“Hard work. Working in the streets selling things of course. It was hard work. Now I work at this bar for 5 months now.”
What advice can you give to Africans coming to Brazil for a better life?
“Advice?… I can’t advice anyone. I can’t tell someone to do something. It’s up to them.”
Is Brazil ‘home’? And why?
“Yes… Why? My house.”