May 2017

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This year, for LusoFesta 2017, students reading Portuguese language courses, minoring in Minor in Brazilian Studies and majoring in Latin American Studies, were divided into four groups each representing four Lusophone cultures, namely, those of the Brazilian State of Amazonas, the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, Macau in China (or Macao in English, a former Portuguese colony), and Madeira (an autonomous archipelagic region of Portugal and the origin of most of the Caribbean’s Portuguese communities of 19th century origin).

The Festival received great support from the Prefeitura de Manaus (capital of Amazonas State) through the Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil in Port of Spain for Amazonas, the Reece Có family of Guinea-Bissau, from the Confucius Institute (CI) for Macau, and from the Centro das Comunidades Madeirenses e Migrações (CCM) and the Conselho da Diáspora Madeirense (Madeiran Diaspora Council) for Madeira.

The week-long event, with daily screenings of award-winning Portuguese-language films from around the world, culminated in the grand LusoFesta Day, opening with the national anthems of all four countries (projected on screen in both Portuguese and English, and Mandarin also, in the case of Macau), and with the national anthem of Trinidad & Tobago translated into Portuguese. His Excellency Paulo Bozzi of the Embassy of Brazil brought greetings, as did Roger Camacho of the Associação Portuguesa Primeiro de Dezembro in Port-of-Spain and J. Jude Xavier of the Portuguese Community, and three students of Portuguese of the Universidade de Ciência e Tecnologia de Macau on a specially pre-recorded video.

Nearly all the territories featured are multilingual, and each group of students was asked to discuss the topic “The Impact and Challenges Associated with Portuguese as an Official Language in Our Territory” (territory referring to each area represented, Amazonas State of Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, Macau of China, and Madeira of Portugal). Brazil is home to 237 languages, 7 of which have official or co-official status, including 3 which are co-official in the municipality of São Gabriel da Cachoeira of the State of Amazonas (with over 45 indigenous languages); Guinea-Bissau has 23 languages; and Macau has 6 languages. In the case of Madeira, Madeira is not multilingual but is bidialectal, and has its own regional insular variety (dialect) of the Portuguese language, related to the Azorean and southern Portugal’s varieties, and to the Northeastern varieties of Brazilian Portuguese, and speakers of some varieties of Madeiran Portuguese (such as the famous footballer Cristiano Ronaldo) have sometimes faced discrimination even within Portugal. Yet Portuguese continues to operate in all these contexts as a symbol of regional, national and international unity, even while facing its own challenges in the social and educational systems of each territory.

The more formal segments of the morning’s proceedings were interspersed with dances of three of the territories, and a musical rendition of one. The morning ended with Gerelle Forbes’ rendition of Sorriso de Criança/A Child's Smile (a samba by Dona Ivone Lara, 1979), originally performed by Ms Forbes at the DMLL’s 7 de Setembro 2016 premiere of the A Alma Brasileira concert. Guests were then invited to tour Little Lusofonia in the CLL Atrium, with the stunning displays mounted by staff and students for each territory.