Born and raised in one of the biggest favelas in Brazil, Maré, Her Excellency Anielle Francisco da Silva knows all about inequality.
“My mom always told us that it was important to study because no one could ever take our knowledge from us.”
With four degrees and three masters under her belt H.E da Silva has ensured she lives up to her mother’s teachings. She is now in the doctorate space as well because education allows her to be able to help change people’s lives.
A life shaped by resilience and education
She is a journalist, educator, master in ethnic-racial relations, and a doctoral candidate in applied linguistics.
H.E da Silva is the Minister of Racial Equality in Brazil. She delivered a public lecture under the theme “A diasporic perspective towards education & South-South cooperation” at the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Ubuntu Chambers on Thursday, 24 August 2023.
Racial discrimination in the South American country is a complex issue, said H.E da Silva, stating the fact that young people are killed every 23 minutes in Brazil.
“We are talking about a place where if a black woman is a politician, they face the possibility of being killed or being unable to do their work at all. We are talking about a place where black people are starving, have no jobs, are not in positions of power, and are walking the streets because there are not a lot of public policies, up to this day, for black people.”
H.E da Silva’s sister Marielle Franco, was also a politician and was assassinated in 2018. After her death, the family established the Marielle Franco Institute with the aim to seek justice and continue her work. H.E da Silva was the director of the institute, which works mainly with political violence and the participation of black women in politics.
BRICS Summit and South-South cooperation
Her visit to the University came as the 15th annual BRICS Summit, that saw nations from across the world gather to discuss their mutually beneficial cooperation, drew to a close.
Hosted by UJ’s Centre for the Study of Race, Gender, and Class (RGC), H.E da Silva emphasised the importance of the occasion.
“I am here fulfilling BRICS agendas with the aim of learning about the policies and actions of countries in Africa on the promotion of memory, reparation, and social justice. The marks of colonialism and the enslavement of Africans and afro descendants have a profound effect on communities and countries around the world. Brazil and South Africa, despite different colonisations, still reflect a great social appetite between access to opportunities, dignified life and wellbeing of mostly vulnerable black populations.”
She explained how some flagship programmes in Brazil were working towards this through knowledge sharing, short term exchanges, the construction of an ethnic identity between South American countries, the Caribbean and Africa and the fight against racism and inequality.
RGC Director Prof Victoria Collis-Buthelezi thanked the minister for the work she was doing in raising the consciousness of others through her work.
“It seems to me this South-South collaboration is perhaps the crucial paradigm to a world in which there is equity, equality and justice.”
Prof Sarah Gravett, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation added that the South-South cooperation and educational exchanges were very important because they can stimulate cultural enrichment, economic development and enhance global collaboration.
“Examining the issue of race in South Africa and globally is not just a matter of social justice. It is essential for the country’s progress, stability and international standing. This requires ongoing efforts from individuals, communities, institutions, regional and global communities to dismantle racial disparities and promote a more inclusive and equitable society.”
The public lecture was attended by university staff, students, affiliated organisations and members of the public.