Life Onboard
What bees and bugs can teach us - Francis Silva brought the rhythm of Brazil to the Atlantic Ocean, Jan 26, 2013
Francis Silva's concerts, samba and percussion workshops were widely popular with participants and international Peace Boat volunteers
When Francis Silva met activists of Peace Boat's partner organization in a township outside of Cape Town, he had a strange déj?-vu. The discrimination they had faced during apartheid in South Africa seems familiar to him. "Living as a black person in Brazil during the military dictatorship was really tough", the guest educator recalls. When he engaged in a labour union for Brazilian musicians, his father mysteriously got hit by a car. Feeling that Brazil wasn't safe any longer, he moved to Japan in 1979 - and has stayed there ever since. "Japan was a good choice, because all foreigners are regarded the same there. We form the group of the 'gaijin', no matter if our skin is white, black or green."

Peace Boat participants learnt the rhythm of Brazil long before arriving in Latin American shores
Francis Silva has transformed Japan into a samba loving country since the early 80s - and he did the same with the Japan in a nutshell that is the Ocean Dream. Participants took turns in stepping into a so called drum circle of various percussionists and conducted their play with movements of the whole body. The resulting rhythm reminded of the British drumming musical "Stomp", which is no wonder - Francis Silva has taught the musicians in the past. When he first came to Japan in 1979, he established Asia's first samba band, Escola de Samba Cruzeiro do Sul. Since that time he has played chorinho, bossa nova, samba and bai?o with many renowned Japanese musicians and hosted his own radio program called "Inter Community Square" in Tokyo for five years. More recently, he has been collaborating with the older brother of the Brazilian soccer legend Pelé, teaching Japanese soccer players and supporters to use the samba rhythm for being as successful as their Brazilian counterparts.

On the night before arriving in Rio de Janeiro, Francis Silva organised a smaller version of the Asakusa carnival onboard
When Francis Silva emigrated to Japan in the early 80s, hardly anybody knew about samba. But he quickly attracted students who have in between become renowned samba teachers themselves. He went to many cities and proposed to establish an authentic Brazilian carnival, but most were sceptical - until he came to Asakusa, a traditional part of Tokyo, which was just trying to revive its cultural life at that time. His pictures and music convinced them at once - for different reasons, as Francis Silva jokingly observed."The women said: 'That is going to bring a lot of money.' whereas the men were especially interested in the candid costumes." Since 1984 the festival has been held annually in the last week of August, with 6 million visitors lately. It is the world's largest carnival outside of Brazil.

This participant adapted her classical violin to the samba mode
On the night before arriving in Rio de Janeiro, Francis Silva organised a smaller version of the Asakusa carnival onboard. Hundreds of passengers participated as dancers or musicians - some displayed their newly learnt percussion skills, others adapted their classical instruments to the samba mode.

"Brazilian samba can teach us how to express our feelings" one dancer said
"Japanese people can learn a lot from Brazilian samba" said Murakami Sachiyo, a Peace Boat staff in charge of the Japanese guest care. The 35-year-old presented a solo performance in a samba costume. "Brazilian samba can teach us a lot: how to express our feelings and how to connect with people and do a big performance together." She learnt samba dance seven years ago, when she started working with Peace Boat and joined a workshop organised by a member of the Asakusa Carnival. She grew up with these rhythms since her childhood, as Brazilian immigrants brought samba bars and the carnival to her home prefecture, Aichi.

During his live concert Francis Silva shared anecdotes in fluent Japanese
"As a child I couldn't find any human teacher", Francis Silva said during one of his concerts. "But growing up surrounded by nature, I started imitating the sounds of birds, bees, bugs and the river. Everything became an instrument. " He tapped on his fingers to present the sound of an approaching bug, only to evoke the sound of a Japanese taiko drum with his djembe seconds later. "As a teenager I realized I could grab girls' attention by imitating the stop signal of the bus." His most important teacher however was the centre bee, called mukade in Brazilian Portuguese. He named his Japan-based academy in her honour: "Mukade Brasil".