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Essay Topic on Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil until 1960 and is classified as a monumental city by many people around the world. The famous Carnival, as spelt in Portuguese, is a spectacular event viewed by millions internationally. However, behind the colourful, glamorous costumes, dance routines and samba beats underlies a meaningful cultural story of racism, poverty and wealth. This paper will be taking a closer look at the communities living in the steep hills around Rio de Janeiro.
Rio de Janeiro is geographically divided into the South and North Zones. The first is the location near the beaches and ocean where the prestigious middle-class neighbourhoods are located, whereas the latter is composed of many small cities and neighbourhoods that are predominantly poor. The carioca, or Rio carnival is based on samba and is Rio’s main event lasting for four days. It happens at the peak of summer. The festivities attract thousands of people from all corners of the world.

Surrounding the busy life of the city are the morros or hills, which are densely populated communities. Unlike the intrusive urban areas, on the steep hills “todo mundo se cohece”, meaning everyone knows each other and the rural people call the city “o asphalto” or the asphalt. This term highlights and hence separates the middle-class townspeople from the people in the hills due to the muddy pathways found in the morro community. The strong feeling of unity in these people is expressed through their residents’ association.

Even though the morro community have jobs involving manual labour, when it comes to carnival they take it extremely seriously. Blocos are carnival parade groups and are prepared months in advance with the help of the sambistas (samba composers) and performed by the mulatas (women of colour singing samba). The whole community is brought together to complete their competitive bloco. Preparing and attending the carnival is an emotionally significant time, giving a sense of uniao (unity). The people’s work is worthwhile as they are applauded by the middle-class and foreigners, as they briefly escape from their everyday life.

During the Carnival, the major competition is between the escolas de samba (samba clubs), consisting of thousands of participants, with massive floats, luxurious costumes and astounding choreography. Even though these escolas de samba originated on the hillsides, many of the organisers fled and went into the city as they were being funded by the powerful tourism department and Brazil’s millionaires.
The Escolas used to parade in the city avenues, but now they do so in a huge arena known as the Sambodromo.

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