So this post was sparked by a feud I saw on Facebook (above). I looked at the argument, frowned, did my research, frowned for a different reason, then came here to write. I tend to go on for hours, so I’ll keep it short and to the point.
It is true that there are Brazilians in Lagos, and that they are a significant part of Lagos history. I knew this because a classmate of mine from secondary school was from Yaba, but had an unusual, and very obviously non-Yoruba name, which she said came from her Brazilian grandfather. This is why I frowned the first time, because I was like, I don’t see anything wrong with acknowledging a certain cultural history if it’s true and not problematic.
Then I did my research. Our trusty Wikipedia tells us that freed slaves returned to West Africa from Brazil and landed in Lagos. Apparently they made up 9% of the city’s population in the 1880s, and their building style influenced the design of key Lagos landmarks such as Holy Cross Cathedral. Which is cool, and confirms my first point that there are people in Lagos descended from Brazilians – black Brazilians.
However, I also managed to land upon this gem of a quote:
“The Brazilians introduced to Nigeria elaborate architectural designs, two story buildings and bungalows with stucco facades”
*blank stare. So… we couldn’t build bungalows and two story houses ourselves? We had to be rescued from ignorance by educated blacks who had gained knowledge from the almighty Europeans? *sigh. Sugabelly has already proved this assumption wrong. Wikipedia FAIL.
So then I said, lemme see these so-called “Brazilian outfits”.
… and then I was like, uh, no. Brazil’s carnival is about sequins and skin and heels. It’s not supposed to be, “I wanted to be Yoruba for Halloween, but I also wanted to be Brazilian, so I thought it would be a great idea to be Yorubrazilian.” FAIL again. If they were going for the masquerade look, they succeeded, but Brazilians everywhere – Nigerian and otherwise – are cringing in shame.
P.S. Due to the large influx of people both in and out of Lagos within the last 100 years, I doubt there’s still a significant Brazilian population there. But I still think they’re worthy of mention. Just not in garish costumes and in lieu of actual Nigerian cultural dress.