A Trip that has lasted 10 years: Train Tan Tan is on the track for Social Inclusion

Until the 80s there was a train taking patients with mental illnesses from the city of Belo Horizonte, the capital of the state of Minas Gerais, to be locked up in the big mental asylum in the town of Barbacena. This train was given the nickname of “Trem Tan Tan”. But now mental institutions in Brazil are gradually being closed down. The focus has changed from isolation to integration and Trem Tan Tan refers to a musical band. But this band is not alien to madness, or the genius that goes with it. Its members are former mental patients using music as a train taking them back to society.

The band originated from a mental health project coördinated by the musician Babilak Bah. Their 8 members( Rosilene Leandro, Olavo Rita, Edson Oliveira, Gilberto da Rocha, Mauro Camilo, Carlos Ferreira, Alexander Evangelho e Isaura da Cunha) are now celebrating a decade of travelling in this train by launching the CD “Sambabibolado”. Sambabibolado is not a traditional samba CD, but a free fall adventure through a mixture of rhythms such as rap, hip hop, soul and the batuque. The lyrics contain playful poetry going from the recipe of a traditional food dish to protesting against prejudice and discrimination.

Video Documentary by 3rd year students of Journalism of the University of Belo Horizonte:

Video Transcript with translation from Brazilian Portuguese:

Introduction by Isaura da Cunha:

“I offer a heart,
a heart without darkness,
a heart without marks and ready to love
I offer a heart that is a traveller intoxicated by velocity
a heart without resentment
a dreamer of a heart
a sad heart
ready to be happy
a heart attached to the world’s afflictions”


Listen here mate
what I have to say
there is a track that we need to go through
Listen here my mate
what I have to say
there is a track that we need to go through
at every moment we have the opportunity
to spread good seeds
to collect happiness we need hope
and more understanding to allow happiness reaching our heart


Mauro Camilo (Trumpet)
It is very important to give today a voice to those who are oppressed, those who are suffocated by the society and even by their own family, because the biggest problem that someone with a mental disease has is the rejection from their own family.

Carlos Ferreira (Percussionist)
I am a member of Trem Tan Tan. I define my life as “before Trem tan tan” and “after Trem tan tan“. Before, my life was reduced to a dark room, with closed doors and windows. My social life was totally dead. And now my life is different. Now I can see life in another way, with more optimism. I feel more capable, and the people around me have been affected too: family, Friends. There are those who say that I have turned my life around.

Cleuza Ferreira (wife of Carlos ferreira)
Since he started singing and playing music, he has improved his health. Sometimes, at home, he plays keyboard and sings. This has helped him to be more peaceful and improved his concentration. The band “Trem Tan Tan” has helped him a lots and I hope that it continues this way.

This band has had a string of shows in this city and in other states. It participated in important musical projects.

Mauro Camilo (Trumpet)
The nearest station and the furthest station that the Train Tan Tan wants to stop is in your hearts. You can be sure of that!

Olavo Rita (percussion) 
O Train Tan Tan went dancing samba in the avenue to give an end to the society’s prejudices. The Train Tan Tan, is in the avenue went dancing samba and now the asylums no longer exist. The Train Tan Tan is now reality, to put an end to the society’s prejudices. The Train Tan Tan is our new attraction.

Alexander Evangelio (percussion)
 When the Train Tan Tan started, I also joined them. The Train Tan Tan changed a lot in my life. Before I was an anti social guy, totally excluded from society. Now, I feel part of the society.

Rogeria Ferreira (singer)
Now I am part of the Train Tan Tan. I sing a song that is a about a food recipe explaining how to prepare  Vaca Atolada (this is a traditional dish from Minas Gerais that consists of chunks of beef cooked with spiced manioc)

Babilak Bah (Producer):
My name is Babilak Bah. I am a musician and poet. I have been working with the Train Tan Tan for 10 years. The Train tan tan is a very significant work in my life and in my development as a musician, as a poet and as a human being. I feel as if I had been run over by a train, a train that has been passing through my life, a train that has marked my life. This is a work that brings me emotions. There is no way I could talk about the Train Tan Tan without feeling emotional, without having my eyes filled with tears and without smiling a lot. So, I talk about the train through my emotions rather than reason.

Joao Bosco Alves (Guest)
I belong to the practice of Capoeira de Angola and the Afro-Brazilian traditions and we also work with Brazilian Popular Music roots. The issue of mental health is a serious issue, a challenge for our society in a globalized world, with so many difficulties related to identity, socialization, as well as with primary needs such as work, income, housing and all things that give contentment to a person. Today’s society needs to invest more in the social aspects of people’s lives.

Chico Cesar (Musician)
I think this is a wonderful work. We can think about art and culture as a rescue of our citizenship. We could perhaps apply this to our economists, our policemen and politicians, to bring this people who are used to execute power and expose them to the day-to-day of cultural production. I think that culture is nothing more than a person been open to the artistic expression of another person. Culture is a territory were nobody is the owner of the truth.

Closing of Video:

What is social inclusion?

  • It is to abandon prejudices and accept that deep down we are all equals
  • It is to be conscious that each one of us has a fundamental role in the society
  • It is to know how to deal with diversity and accept that each person is equally valued.
  • It is to build new values and change lives.
  • It is to allow yourself to get to know someone different from you and to surprise yourself.

Quote from Clarice Linspector:

“The biggest aspiration of the human being is to be human”

4 Responses to “A Trip that has lasted 10 years: Train Tan Tan is on the track for Social Inclusion”

  1. Congratulations on the good work done over 10 years Babilak Bah.

  2. Reblogged this on msamba and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)


  1. Berimbaudrum’s First Anniversary! | BerimbauDrum - September 6, 2013

    […] and his initiative of connecting music with mental health, a work that has led to the launch of the Train Tan Tan, a spirited band consisted of former mental health patients. Makely Ka, another Brazilian musician, […]

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