By Listening, We Understand Each Other

It was in the quilombola[1] community of Conceição das Crioulas that I came to know Paulo Freire.

It all began in 2003 with a trip that brought Porto, Portugal and Salgueiro, Pernambucoi, Brazil much closer. The diurnal and nocturnal rhythms of Conceição das Crioulas are marked by fierce sunlight and a sky full of stars and by conversations that are long songs full of pauses. Everything is a story to be sung. This is the way it is presented and grows in consistency and maturity to a treelike fortitude.

When I stopped to really hear that I saw that the community grew by descending to search for its roots and its origins.  The people there understand that, if they nourish the roots, the tree will branch more vigorously and become more resistant to temporal changes. The quotidian of a quilombola community is a constant struggle for their right to the land (which nourishes the roots), to education (which guides their growth) and to healthcare (which guarantees their continuity).  In this way, the inhabitants are not only tied to their customs but begin to assimilate the world that surrounds them, by daily reinvention of their global particle.

Growing in the search for knowledge, we become conscious and critical.  The quilombola community of Conceição das Crioulas searches, constructs and reconstructs its identity, offering its knowledge to the world while absorbing from it.

I got to know Paulo Freire without meeting him, our acquaintance proceeded slowly, gradually, as I encountered him in the voice of the community.  Perhaps it was in a similar situation that he learned to be a listener.

[1] In historical terms, it is possible to study the definition of quilombos or quilombola communities by referencing their development in 17th and 18th centuries, the peak of African slavery in Brazil when some escapees were able to flee to well-hidden and fortified locations in the wilderness. These refuges were known as quilombos.  There, remnants of African culture were preserved that would contribute to the formation of Afro-Brazilian culture. We can read about “Quilombismo: An emerging concept in the historical-cultural process of the Afro-Brazilian population” in AFROCENTRICITY, an innovative epistemological approach, organized by Elisa Larkin Nascimento. For her late husband, Abdias Nascimento: “Quilombo does not mean a runaway slave. Quilombo means a free and fraternal reunion, solidarity, intimacy, existential communion.  It is in this sense that I refer to the quilombola community.


English translation by Peter Lownds

Year 2012
Type Unpublished Text
Publication VIII Encontro do Fórum Internacional Paulo Freire
Local Los Angeles, California, USA
Language Português