São Paulo became the first Lebanese city outside Lebanon and Brazilians of Lebanese citizens who are proud to be.
The view of …
From Beirut to Brasilia
By Denis Pietton
Pass from Lebanon to Brazil, fifteen times as big as France and a continent in itself is more than cross the oceans, is changing the world. Pass from Lebanon to Brazil as Ambassador of France , that is , to all appearances , changing jobs . From Brasilia, on a South American land where the only conflicts between States refer only some border adjustments , the Middle East , bursting with passion, seems very distant . Almost another planet. However, upon closer inspection, you can unwind Ariane’s thread between the shores of the Mediterranean, our mother, and the ” Red Brazil,” portrayed by the writer academician Jean- Christophe Rufin .
Before depositing my luggage in Brazil in the company of Najwa , my Lebanese woman who has made of me a ” Jbeili ” of adoption , I knew that the Lebanese emigration in this country was one of the components of the Brazilian kaleidoscope place all shades skin color : Portuguese, Africans from Angola and the Gulf of Guinea , indigenous Indians , Italians, Germans, Japanese even … Very few Gauls of France. I was amused to think that French from Lebanon , accompanied by a Lebanese wife, I was , too , a kind of Lebanese migrated (admittedly privileged … ) addressing a new earth. And ask myself: how many Brazilians of Lebanese blood flowing in their veins? How Georges, Antoine, Rita, Theresa, Charbel, or Mohamed Hussein? 8 , 10, perhaps 12 million . Nobody knows. To reassure myself , and still inhabited by Lebanon , I liked to say , as a joke , that I had passed , almost without transition , a Lebanon , a little over 4 million Lebanese , to another country , with a dozen million of Lebanese. As if the presence of a Lebanese community in a given country was the ultimate standard of happiness !
I documented. I wanted to know how, in 1880 , young men from their villages clinging to rocky plots of land and olive groves that could not feed all the mouths planned, with the support of their families, but despite the broken heart of their mothers, planned their journey to unknown countries ( United States , Argentina , Brazil … ) which were all promised land. I sought to understand how the Lebanese in the prime of life , so attached to their valleys and their summits, their tower and their minaret , left their compartmentalized and familiar landscape,to challenge the infinite Brazilian .
Of course, in their heads , and like any candidate for emigration, it was only a parenthesis before the return, with fortune made ,to the family nest , in the shadow of Mount Lebanon. But Brazil is a land of assimilation and these sons of Lebanon did not return to the fold unless for family visits and often to seek a wife in the country.
Upon arrival in Brazil, but these volunteers uprooted men , refused to let their arms to large landowners. They were right because they have lived a life of servitude. Lebanese pride . They preferred to be in a first step, street vendors , hawkers , porters bending under the weight of small items they offered. They did not hesitate to sink into the hostile Amazon, where they exchanged their trinkets against rubber, and to establish themselves in the most remote locations throughout Brazil , but especially in the region of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais , the land of gold and coffee. With their entrepreneurial spirit , strong community ties solidarity, these “vagrants traders ” have settled , learned Portuguese, have opened shops tissue and wholesale businesses , and fortune coming for many – but not for all – are engaged in the industry, have sent their children to universities where they left doctors, teachers … With social mobility , they invested politics and became mayors, deputies and senators . Of course this journey has not been a bed of roses. These immigrants had a hard life, they took risks , they suffered economic risks , they had to fight and pour hot tears over their lost loved Lebanon . This is, unfortunately, the lot of many young Lebanese ( and Lebanese ) as having homesick . Destinies.
São Paulo became the first Lebanese city outside Lebanon and Brazilians of Lebanese citizens who are proud of being and which, in their almost all have lost the use of Arabic. There are nevertheless they know where they come from and they continue to wear Lebanon, even if they are unknown in their heart . Their “libanité” is a flower in their buttonholes . Vice- President of Brazil ( Temer ) , the mayor of São Paulo (Haddad ), the Governor of São Paulo ( Alckmim ) , Brazil’s ambassador to Paris ( Bustani ), Carlos Ghosn , head of Renault -Nissan , and many others are original “Lebanese .” And I met distant relatives of Najwa ( her grandmother was born in Brazil before returning to end her days in Lebanon) who have taken root in Curitiba, in the south of the country. The dialogue was not easy , given the language barrier , but emotions, warmth, affection . They handed a CD to Najwa pictures of their common ancestors … Their treasure.
One final note : the kitchen ” Brazilian ” offers ” kibe “, the ” sfiha ” … I assure you, dear Lebanese friend is so much more tasty in Lebanon !