RIO DE JANEIRO – Blaise Musipere was born 33 years ago in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country ravaged by war and from which he escaped thanks to a scholarship provided by Brazil, where he started his life over again and is today a well-known TV actor.
Now living in Rio de Janeiro, Musipere portrays a Haitian refugee working in Brazil as a mechanic in the Globo network telenovela “Orfaos da Terra” (“Orphans of the Earth”).
Though he doesn’t like talking about his past, the Congolese refugee, who landed in Brazil 11 years ago, shared his story with EFE to inspire others who find themselves trapped in similar circumstances.
In very fluid Portuguese, Blaise recalled that his father was in the army of the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who held power in the Congo for 32 years until 1997, when he was toppled in a civil war, and the Musipere family fled into exile.
To this day the actor has tears in his eyes when he tells of the night they fled from their home in Kinshasa to a small, remote village.
His father dropped him off there along with his mother and 10 siblings and disappeared without a trace.
“We had nothing, no roof, no floor, no food. We lived in misery and my mother stole fruit to feed us,” Blaise said.
It was in that village where they met a priest who changed their life. He offered them help and found work for Blaise and his siblings.
In those days he worked to help support the family, while basketball and music in his time off helped him get through the hardest times.
With the outbreak of the Second Congo War in 1998, which left some 4 million people dead over the course of five years, the country was sunk in chaos and poverty.
Blaise was aware of the future he faced and it was then that a friend, a big fan of Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho, suggested that he move to South America.
The two of them went to the Brazilian Consulate and, with little hope, applied for a scholarship in Brazil. When he later saw his name on the list of those chosen, it came as a total surprise.
After breaking the news to his family, he began to save money to buy an air ticket and “thanks to Africa’s big heart, to the help of people I know and don’t know,” in 2009 he landed at the Sao Paulo airport, from where he proceeded to the southern city of Curitiba to study Portuguese.
Unfortunately, he lost the scholarship. But he did manage to stay in Brazil when his refugee status was respected due to all the difficulties his native land was still going through.
To perfect his Portuguese, he did a modeling course and another in acting that he paid for by washing dishes at a restaurant and sleeping in the street when he couldn’t afford rent.
In the acting course, Blaise met an assistant director who invited him to the casting for the lead role in a short film, and after winning the part, the invitations started coming for more castings.
“I came from nothing, from misery, so when I see that I’m on the Globo network, I know I have to take advantage of the chance and dedicate myself to this,” Blaise said, adding that he is finally able to send money to his family back home.
The actor thanks the Brazilian people for their generosity and wouldn’t dream of going back to the Congo, since he feels that Brazil is his new home.
Despite the harsh life he’s had, Blaise says he is “thankful” for all the situations he’s been through.
“Life is always a journey and I prefer to look ahead,” he said.