Brazilian Project Brings Together Astronomy, Indigenous Knowledge, and Culture

Logo of OruMbya project on astronomy and afro, indigenous culture in Brazil

OruMbya (Orum, sky in Yorubá, and Mbya, a Brazilian Guarani ethnicity) is a pilot project to celebrate Astronomy as a fuel of life, in which the stories of the stars preserved in the resilience of people from three different continents have been shared over months, through scientific-cultural activities focused on the dissemination of knowledge, promotion of social inclusion and sustainable development in the context of PLOAD. In this first experience, the hosts are the NGO Casa da Tia Ciata and the cultural centre “Remanescentes da Tia Ciata”, milestone of defence and preservation of afro-brazilian memories in Rio, and the centenary Observatory of Valongo (OV), one of the oldest institutions of Astronomy in Brazil. The two institutions are located in Morro da Conceição (within the Little Africa region), an iconic place of resistance and reaffirmation of black identity, one of the most socially vulnerable urban regions in Rio. The project organized five public webinars, the last being hybrid, from March till November 2021, with the participation of astronomers, indigenous people, chilombolas, activists from favelas and members of different countries of PLOAD, to promote an unbiased and equal virtual space of knowledge. Every event consisted of the organic combination of three experiences dedicated to – astronomy, African and Indigenous knowledge, and art or music, which were recorded and live broadcasted. Speakers and participants told stories and shared knowledge about culture and the sky, creating new multicultural collaborations and alliances. A course on Racialized Cosmologies: human rights, interculturality and ethnic-racial relations in science education was delivered online.

Locally, OruMbya created an allotment at the Valongo Observatory and organised a workshop with children from a nearby favela (Morro da Providencia) to plant traditional herbs used in Afro-Indigenous cultures. The plants where bought from the NGO Sementes Urbanas that aims at promoting local organic production of plants. The workshop refreshments were bought from a family business in the favela of Providencia, to support the growth of producers from poorer economical backgrounds. The team also produced two outreach videos to disseminate the project main ideas (a tour of the Little Africa region and the construction of the horta). An e-booklet is being created at the present moment with the material and photos of the organised events. The outcomes of this project will be publicly available for downloading and streaming in the site of the OV, Casa da Tia Ciata and PLOAD. The activities attracted a diverse public (children, young and adults), leading toward an interesting and healthy sharing of life experiences.