Has anyone ever told you they are Brazilian one way or the other ? Well you are about to find out the truth.
Brazilians in Nigeria, Amaros or Agudas consist of the descendants of freed Afro-Brazilians slaves who left Brazil and settled in Nigeria. The term Brazilians in Nigeria can also otherwise refer to first generation expatriates from Brazil.
Starting from the 1830s, many emanicipated Africans who had been through forced labour and discrimination in Brazil began moving back to Lagos, bringing along with them some cultural and Social sensibilities adapted from their sojourn in Latin America. These emanicipated Africans were often called “Aguda” or “Amaro“, and also included returnees from Cuba.
Returnees from Brazil and their present-day descendants were and are more commonly called “Agudas” (from agudão, a non-standard Portuguese word for cotton properly rendered as algodão) or “Amaro”. Most were Catholics, but some worshiped African Orishas which they brought from Brazil. Some of the Agudas are also Muslims. Most of them still have Portuguese names. Some common Portuguese family names in Nigeria include Da Silveira, De Silva, De Souza, and Moreira. In the 1800s, the major distinguishing set of classification was by birth, Agudas taken captive from West Africa who emigrated back to Lagos were called Papae or Mamae and those who were born in Brazil and then returned were called Yaya or Yayo.
The British Annexation of Lagos and the promotion of trade benefited the Brazilian community. Along with the Saros, they became a rising bourgeois. They utilized a western style of dressing, owned race horses and organized waltzes, square dances and musical soirees where Molière was performed. However, with time many began to embrace their heritage and when the children of the returnees were grown, they came to embrace Lagos as their home. The annexation of Lagos that led to the rise of this wealthy class also came with the realisation that the colonists were not leaving soon and any hope of forming a political class was dim. The Brazilians began to cultivate relationships with the traditional authorities in Lagos, while some renewed relationships with Africans in the hinterland by supplying them with weapons. Agudas supplied weapons to the Ijeshas in the war against Ibadan. Beginning in the 1880s, many began to change their names to African ones while the Aurora relief Society was formed to research their culture. Agudas’ cuisine in the early 1920s included food considered African in Bahia but considered different from those eaten by indigenes on the Island. They ate pirão de caranguejo during holidays and prepared mungunza, mingau (porridge) and feijão-de-leite (coconut milk beans) as food staples. In agriculture, the returnees also popularized the use of Cassava as a food crop.
Agudas celebrated Easter with the coming out of Caretas or masked figures,burrinha at Epiphany and Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (Our Lord of the Good End) associated with Obatala was celebrated during yuletide.
Popo Aguda was a close-knit community and residents were known for their thriftiness and a strong work ethic.
The Brazilians are still celebrated in Lagos and Calabar every Christmas. The lagosians call it “Fanti” . It is absolutely fun to watch. People with their different costume representing various areas like “lafiaji” ,”Upper Campus” and the rest of them.
That person telling you he/she has Brazilian blood wasn’t lying after all.