Brasilien: Alzira Rufino

Afro-Brazilian women–they produce the show and take credit for the direction!

— Alzira Rufino

Alzira Rufino (1950) is the founder and director of the House of Culture of the Afro-Brazilian Woman (CCMN), which has its headquarters in the city of Santos, in the State of São Paulo. Her life and her social work are references for the feminists and for the Afro-Brazilian female organizations. In 1992, she received the title of ‘Honorable Citizen of the city of Santos.’

Alzira Rufino was born in a tenement. Besides economic poverty, she lived with domestic violence. Her feminism was also born inside her house: “My father and my brother wanted to boss me around. Negative!” Alzira got her will to fight from her mother. “She taught me that there is no point in complaining; you have to get out there and fight.” Alzira fought and studied. She graduated in nursing. For being an Afro-Brazilian woman, she opened up different paths: to make domestic violence socially visible and to raise Afro-Brazilian women's self-esteem. “In 1990, when we created the House of Culture of the Afro-Brazilian Woman, there was resistance regarding the name. The oppositionists asked: ‘Why Afro-Brazilian women?’” She had the answer on the tip of her heart: Afro-Brazilian women need to become visible and to assert themselves. Many people took long to understand. “Some white men came after the Afro-Brazilian girls looking for prostitutes. Some white women came to look for cleaners.” After 15 years, the House is a reference in the area of assistance to victims of domestic violence, providing psychological and judicial support. It is also a reference in the fight against racism. The House also elaborates the rescue of African culture, in every detail: the furniture, the cuisine, the colors, the editing of the ‘Eparrei Magazine,’ the mentioning of the orixás (Gods of the Candomblé, a religion brought to Brazil by the Africans captured by the slave trade). Alzira is a multifaceted figure: Ialorixá (religious status in the Candomblé), communicator, political articulator and a claimant with a sharp tongue. Alzira mixes determination with poetry–“because the world is in need of another way to say things.”

Casa de Cultura da Mulher Negra (CCMN)