Creating Education Spaces: The Ongoing Educational Work of Plataforma Gueto in Lisbon




In this conversation, Sónia Vaz Borges interviews Flávio Zenun Almada, a mc/rapper and longtime Cape Verdean activist in Portugal. In this conversation, they explore the roots of the Popular University, organized by Plataforma Gueto, a Black Social Movement based in working class neighborhoods in the periphery of Lisbon. The Plataforma fights against all forms of discrimination and social injustice towards the population that live in social housing and self-built neighborhoods, especially against police brutality, housing eviction, deportation, and incarceration. It monitors Portuguese public policy for immigration and integration to critically question and make proposals about them. Finally, Plataforma promotes rap as a source of social intervention. 

Almada Funambulist 1
Espaço Mbongi 67 in Damaia (outskirts of Lisbon), comprising a library, a bookstore, a gathering place for locals and/or activists, and a coffee place. / Courtesy of Flávio Zenun Almada.

SÓNIA VAZ BORGES: Flávio, can you share with us about how the Plataforma Gueto came to exist?

FLÁVIO ZENUN ALMADA: What I will share with you today is my understanding of it, as there are other people who were part of its creation. I think we cannot talk about the creation of the Plataforma Gueto, without talking about the events that the Associação Encontros organized around, in the Alfornelos theater in Amadora around 2003 and 2004—the cinema events and the music showcase, as well as the debates. The events organized there made it possible for me to be in touch with many other people and organizations that would have otherwise been difficult to get in touch with. During these events, people formed the organization Associação Khapaz in the neighborhood of Arrentela, the organization Laços de Rua in the neighborhood of Cascais. During this time I had the idea of making a newspaper, but I had no conditions to make it. But someone gave me a computer, and some books. 

We also did other things, like the discussion around creating a  movement called Onda Negra (Black wave) in response to so-called “looting” that happened on a Portuguese beach, and the way the Portuguese media portrayed the whole situation. All these organizations participated in that discussion, together with people connected to the Rap world like the group Red Eyes; the Nos ki Nasci Homi ki ta Mori Homi, and other people from Cova da Moura and other neighborhoods. We started to talk more, but I think it was with Associação Encontros that everything started to become more consistent. But I also think Plataforma, which was founded between 2006 and 2007, is part of this heritage of where these people and organizations were already doing things.