Bahia: Even in Brazil, African heritage lives On


bahia1Though hundreds of miles away from the continental Yoruba – Yoruba people in Africa, the descendants of African slaves, mostly Yoruba, transported across the Atlantic to the Americas, still preserve their African heritage despite the spatial and time distance and marked disconnect between them and their roots. WALE EMOSU, who visited Salvador, the capital city of Bahia State, which incidentally served as the first capital city of the country and home of many Afro-Brazilians, reports that African culture is the lifeblood of every Bahian who values it even more than continental Africans.

JEMILA and Zeyana are Omanis, their father being from Oman. But the Said sisters who live in London, created time during the last FIFA World Cup in Brazil to visit Salvador – not because it was one of the 12 cities that hosted the World Cup matches – but because of its historical relevance to their existence.

The present-day Brazil is made up of people including the descendants of the African slaves brought into the country in the mid-sixteenth century. Some of these are the Bakongo, the Mbundo and the Ovimbundu peoples from Angola and the Congo; the Fon people (or Jeje) from Benin; the Yoruba people (or Nago) from Nigeria and Benin. And it is needless to say that the culture and tradition of these people, though with various changes are with them in their adopted country.

bahia1Jemila told Sunday Tribune that their mother is from the Urhobo extraction in Delta State, Nigeria. Then, were they in Salvador to trace their maternal roots, sort of? “No,” the elder of the sisters said. Flanked by George, their tour guide and other relatives, Jemila said: “Mummy is Urhobo and she teaches us the language back home in London.”  Then I decided to take her up on this claim: Digwe, I told her and she replied Migwo, though in a flawed intonation. At any rate, I returned her greeting: Vredo

Encounter with Canadian born in Lagos

Jemila and Zeyana were not the only people who have one link or the other with Nigeria or Africa who made most of the opportunity the quadrennial FIFA tournament offered to check out on the norms in Brazil, vis à vis a background about which they were already well informed. What of Sonam Mehta? Sonam, a Canadian, was born in Apapa, Lagos, where she spent the first seven years of her life before leaving for Toronto, Ontario, where she resides today. Even in her home country, Sonam still ‘feels’ Nigerian with Daud, Nkiru and Ogo helping her out in her pharmacy profession.   SEE MORE ON PAGE2

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