Favelas are township or slum like communities in Brazil. Favela residences are mostly poor black people, with no land ownership or have moved from rural areas to find work in the city.
Although they originated with freed slaves in the late 18th century, Favelas became more popular in the 1970’s when rural exodus took place. Rural exodus is the movement of people from the rural areas to big cities in order to find jobs.
Back in the 18th century the first Favela settlements where called bairros africanos (African neighbourhoods). The name Favela comes about in 1897 with veteran soldiers from conflict against the settlers of Canudos, an eastern province of Bahia in Rio de Jeneiro. Since these soldiers had no place to live, they were located in the Providencia Hill in Rio de Janeiro. This new hill they moved to the reminded them of the Canudos Favela Hill a place that many soldiers in the army had been. The Favela is actually a skin irritation tree
Favelas are inhabited by friendly people known as Moradores da Favela or just as Favelados. Since Favela’s are located in the outskirts of the major Brazilian Cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Jeneiro, they are like an extension of the city. Like any houses in the slums or in the townships, Favelas also have a huge number of houses built in a small or limited space.
There is this welcoming affect associated with these fringe ghettos despite the stereotypes of crime and drug peddling associated with the areas. This friendly and open hearted attitude attracts many people from different social classes to these shanty communities. Dance parties known as baile are very popular events that both rich and Brazilians attend in the Favelas.
The people in the Favelas have a relationship that at best can be described as similar to Ubuntu. The key value of helping each other, treating every person or child like your own relative and mostly caring for one another regardless of who or how different we are.
But like any other slum there are problems that are associated with the living conditions. The high rate of poverty is to be blamed for the huge amount of people who suffer from dieses caused by living in these areas. Many children who are born and grew up in the Favelas suffer from malnutrition or are abandoned by their parents. Parents often abandon their children because they fail to feed, clothe and educate them. These children end up living in the city streets, sleeping in parks and begging for every meal.
The rapid growth of the Favelas has been a problem for the government from as early as the 1940’s. This gave rise to government programmes and initiatives like the Parque Proletario, which was an effort to move people from the slums and relocate them into government houses. This programme failed since development was slow and the government built only a small number of houses and relocated other people back to the rural areas. This then lead to them coming back and starting new Favelas in the places where the government houses were located.
In 2007 the Programa de Aceleracao do Crescimento was launched by then President Luiz Lula. This programme was a four year investment plan that was aimed at promoting urban development in the Favelas. There has also been local government programmes like the Rio cidade which are attempting to solve the problem of these ever increasing slums. The main problem for the government is space. Brazil does not have enough liveable land that to which can relocate the mass of people. Infrastructure and other fundamental services like waste removal, water and electricity will also be in huge demand, this will also add to the problem since the government is still having a hard time providing these services.
What has often been cited as an area of concern is that Brazilian police have little or no control in the Favelas. The streets although relatively peaceful are often run by gangs and drug lords. Brazil is famous for its high production of drugs and the Favelas are the most common and easiest place to push these drugs. Traffickers employ children and the youth as messengers, drug and arms carriers. They use violent measures in order to get these children to cooperate with them. The graffiti marks on the walls and streets of Favelas are not artistic expression, but they often serve the purpose of marking territory.
Regardless of all these negatives attributes the Favelas is still home for a large number of people. People who chant and baile all night long in these slums.