My prior travel experiences to various countries around the world had exposed me to study with Brazilians who shared with me many stories of the social and economic challenges their society was undergoing despite its numerous natural and human resources. This is why I seized on the opening to do an exploratory research trip to Brazil for my PhD when the opportunity beckoned. Indeed, the trip ticked most boxes I had created and did more.
The location of my research was, Salvador, in the state of Bahia, Northeast of Brazil, and it turned out to be the state with the largest Afro-descendant population outside of Africa, which was an exciting reality for me. I acquired cutting edge knowledge of Brazilian history, especially the history of slave trade from a renewed perspective. I learnt more about Pedro Cabral, the Portuguese explorer who is said to be the first European to reach Brazil, I learnt that slave trade as a phenomenon that was on into the early twentieth century in Brazil, despite the United States having stopped the trade about thirty years earlier.
My biggest takeaway from visiting Brazil is the huge size, population, and the diversity of the entity called Brazil today. The "myth of the three races”, mistakenly calling contemporary Brazil only a mixture of these major peoples (Indigenous, White, and African) is a big reduction of the racial make-up of the country. Leaving out the many Japanese, Lebanese, Syrian, and Jewish immigrants, for example, who have helped Brazil to become what it is today was a major lesson for me.