Note from BW of Brazil: Brazil has a huge debt to Africa and its people. Not only is it estimated that nearly 90% of Brazilians have at least 10% African ancestry, the country was the recipient of the most African people during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade than any other nation, with an estimates ranging between 4-5 million in the period of about three centuries. And throughout Brazil’s history, the indelible imprint of Africa is so part of every day life that most Brazilians don’t know the extent of the influence of African peoples on the formation of the nation. Sure, everyone knows about capoeira, samba and the Candomblé religion. But how many of us know that the style of Portuguese spoken in Brazil could actually could called ‘Pretoguese’, meaning ‘black Portuguese’, due to the Africanization of the language? And the state in Brazil with arguably the most African influence was and is the northeastern state of Bahia.
According to Brazilian anthropologist Nina Rodrigues (1862-1906) the Yoruba of Nigeria were the most numerous and influential Africans in the state of Bahia in the mid 19th century while Fayette Wiberly revealed that at this same time period, the Yoruba language had become the lingua franca for inter-nation communication in the Bahian city of Cachoeira. Rodrigues would also write that in the later part of the 19th century, Africans of all nations in Salvador, Bahia, were speaking Yoruba as were increasing numbers of Brazilian born blacks and mulattos. If fact, not only there was a constant flow of goods and people of the Yoruba coming into Bahia, but a small number were also leaving for Nigeria as well (Alonso 2014). And still today thanks to groups such as Ilê Aiyê, the memory of the Yoruba remains strong through their usage of names, phrase and terms in their songs.
And today, we’ve seen numerous examples of black Brazil re-connecting with the Motherland….perhaps we shouldn’t even call it a re-connection as Africa’s influence never truly ceased in Brazil although we may be witnessing an intensifying of this connection. Besides Ilê Aiyê’s four decades of Africanisms, we recently saw husband/wife acting duo Lázaro Ramos and Tais Araújo film an episode of their hit TV series Mister Brau in Angola. We saw actresses Cris Vianna and Érika Januza take part in a music video by Angolan artists Adi Cudz and Big Nelo. We’ve seen Afro-Brazilian women represent Queens Nzinga, Makeda and Yaa Asantewaa in a photo shoot and numerous African-inspired clothing lines. But with all of these African-inspired events, perhaps nothing signals a growing connection between Brazil’s African descendant population and the Motherland than a recent visit from the King of Ile-Ife, which has been the talk of social networks for a week now. Check out the brief report below.
Bahia is declared as the Yoruba Capital of the Americas
Courtesy of A Tarde
Bahia was declared the ‘Yoruban capital of the Americas’ by King Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi of Ile-Ife, a city located in southwestern Nigeria, in an event held in Salvador on Sunday, June 10th at the Barroquinha Cultural Space. The event was attended by a group of political authorities, priests and African priestesses, the heads of state secretariats for the Promotion of Racial Equality (Sepromi), Fabya Reis, and Culture (Secult), Arany Santana, and representatives of local communities of African matrix.
King Ooni’s agenda in Bahia has the objective of broadening dialogues and designing cooperation in various areas, such as governments, universities and religious communities. This year, Brazil was chosen to begin the official calendar of visits of the king, having Bahia as centrality, a state that joined in a pioneering way to the actions of the Década Internacional Afrodescendente (International Decade of African Descendants), declared by the UN.
“We recognize our historical ties to Bahia and this brave people, as well as the cultural leadership of people of African descent who, over the last few centuries, have preserved cultural, historical and religious values, especially within the Yoruba vision,” affirmed king Ooni Ogunwusi. For him, Bahian efforts to redeem the self-esteem of Afro-descendant generations, as well as government actions to promote “full citizenship, equality of rights, political and economic emancipation of black people” stand out.
For Sepromi’s secretary, Fabya Reis, the dialogue implemented re-approximate Africa’s diaspora countries closer together and strengthens ties to overcoming inequalities. “The arrival of King Ooni to Bahia undoubtedly fills everyone with pride and further strengthens our commitment to the continuation of the struggle, reparation for the povo negro (black people) and combating religious intolerance,” said the manager.
Source: Alonso, Miguel. The Development of Yoruba Candomble Communities in Salvador, Bahia, 1835-1986. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. A Tarde