As shanty towns have always been territories of exclusion. When we create the CUFA, in 1997, the very word favela still carried such a huge stigma that few organizations ventured to use the term. Calling someone a favelado was an insult. One of our jobs was, with great difficulty, to remove this stigma from these territories, which many preferred to call deprived communities, but we did not, we called and assumed the expression favela.

Today, favelas remain excluded territories, but because of the lack of public infrastructure, and no longer because of what they represent. Being a slum dweller is no longer a reason for dishonor, it is a way of life with which the population of the slums identifies, as do the residents of Vila Madalena and Faria Lima, in São Paulo, and Leme, in Rio de Janeiro, if identify with theirs.

Soon, the favelas will gain the missing instrument to give meaning to this lifestyle: a large museum. It is a project that I took to the government of the state of São Paulo, and from then on it was led by Cufa Brasil, with Preto Zezé, Marcivan Barreto and Kalyne Lima. But I knew that it would not be easy to convince the “asphalt workers” of the importance of this initiative. I was wrong. Governor João Doria did not allow me to complete the request. He shook my hand and said: you can do the project.

The Favela Museum will tell the story of how Brazil became the country of favelas. He will present the culture, the people, the struggles and the glories of this population that helped to build some of the biggest megalopolises in the world – more than that, it influenced the formation of Brazilian identity.

It will be installed at Palácio dos Campos Elísios, in downtown São Paulo, the former government headquarters. It is in fact a Palace, an imposing mansion, which was once used by the coffee barons to perpetuate the slave economy. It is symbolic that a place stained by slavery becomes a cultural facility for the celebration of black and peripheral culture, transforming stigma into charisma.

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For this achievement, the Secretary of Culture of the State of São Paulo, Sérgio Sá Leitão, enters the history of the favela, who in practice encouraged all public authorities and made the project viable. More than that, he brought to the structuring of the initiative the pope of museums in Brazil, the renowned Marcelo Dantas, who has made a decisive contribution in the construction of what will be the most visited space in São Paulo very soon.

But the truth is that the Favela Museum is a collective construction of each favela resident. It is the result of the Hip Hop movement, the work of community leaders, favela mothers and the strength and joy of a people who refuse to be labeled as needy.

The museum, for these people, represents the legitimation of their own identity. A welcoming place, where you can look at the past, miss and celebrate achievements. For those who are not from the favela, it will be a place to understand the influence of this culture on their own way of life and, who knows, identify with the strength and sense of community present in these territories since the construction of the first shack in straws or in the Providence Hill.

The opening is scheduled for 2022. Cufa, having built the project together with the government, did not participate in the public call. But I have just received an invitation from IDG, winner of the bid, to preside over the council of the Favela Museum. Of course I accepted. After all, I’m not one of those who wish good luck to those who are in the fight, I’m the type that fights together. The fact is that it will be a big party in the favela, and everyone is invited.

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