By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This Saturday, May 25th, at 4 PM, Banda Bomoko will be playing a free concert at São Paulo’s Sesc Presidente Prudente center. The band consists of refugees from Angola and the Congo who – with help from Adriana Queiroz, director of Infância sem Fronteiras – put on shows celebrating the cultural riches and music of Africa.
“Since World War II, the world has never witnessed so many people forced to escape their own country,” comments Adriana Queiroz, director of Infância sem Fronteiras and manager of the band.
“There are over 65 million displaced people worldwide,” she continues. Queiroz initially set up Infância sem Fronteiras as a place for refugee children and their families to take part in cultural activities. Traveling to over 100 different countries around the world in collaboration with NGOs and UN projects, Queiroz noticed how, in her words, “kids have the same needs and dreams all over the world.”
This realization spurred another idea, “In the middle of this crisis, we thought that igniting positive conversations and engaging the world to support refugees through music would be a great idea.”
That’s where Banda Bomoko comes in. Through a collaboration between the musicians and Queiroz, they put together a band of nine refugee musicians from different parts of the world to commemorate the International Day of Refugees in 2017.
Since then, they’ve been continuing to play what Queiroz describes as “a repertoire of international songs that share humanitarian messages of love, equality, diversity, and peace.”
The band has achieved notable success in their time together, appearing on Brazilian TV shows such as Caldeirão do Huck on Rede Globo.
They also played as part of the anniversary celebrations of the UN, and have appeared in concert at landmarks such as Christ the Redeemer, Gávea Planetarium and Cidade das Artes.
Santos Ngubi, a member of Banda Bomoko, is from Angola and has been living in Rio de Janeiro for two years. “The band has done many shows in Brazil so far, around one show per month, but we can’t make a living right now from just playing music,” he comments.
The band is looking to continue spreading their message of joy through music, and there is even an international tour in the works.
When asked about his experiences living in Brazil as a refugee, Ngubi says: “I only have positive feelings about Brazil. The band is being greeted with enthusiasm everywhere.”
He continues: “Problems exist everywhere in the world but what we want to show is this power to transform our experiences through music and art. We want to show that we have something to give rather than something to take.”
What: Bomoko – Ritmos Africanos
When: Saturday, May 25th to Sunday, 4 PM
Where: Sesc Thermas de Presidente Prudente, Rua Alberto Peters 111, Jardim das Rosas, Pres. Prudente – SP