This week on Inside Africa, CNN International examines the cultural impact of Brazil in Nigeria, and how the community in Lagos keeps its legacy alive through food, music, architecture and religious ceremonies.
The programme hears that despite Lagos being host to distinct Brazilian influence for more than a century, its history is under threat as the city continues to evolve and develop.
Inside Africa hears how this cultural blend began after Nigerians were captured in the 19th century, sold into slavery and eventually returned to the continent after its abolition. Whilst many chose to stay in Brazil, Lagos Island became host to several returnees in an area called the Brazilian quarter.
CNN hears how the origins and influence of slavery in the community remain an issue even today, as Angelica Yewanje Oyediran explains to the programme: “I am a proud Nigerian of Brazilian descent and I am not ashamed. Some members of the family do not want to be referred to [as] descendants of anything… God has saved our own ancestors and we are what we are today.”
One of the most striking influences of Afro-Brazilian culture is the types of structures founded in Lagos. As many were also constructed in the 19th Century, several of the buildings have fallen into a state of disrepair and require renovation.
Inside Africa speaks to Peju Fatuyi, an architect who has volunteered to help preserve Lagos’ historic buildings. Fatuyi explains why he feels this is so significant for preserving Afro-Brazilian culture: “A picture freezes a moment in time, a building can freeze a time, in eternity, because you can enter a building and you can feel how the people that were there, experienced it. In that way, the building embodies culture. It tells the story of the people that lived in it. It tells the story of people that built it.”
Fatuyi explains to Inside Africa: “It was the finest example of Brazilian architecture that we had here in Lagos. It was a place for festivities rejoicing and was actually loved by the community… I think it’s painful and very sad; I think it’s a national loss. It is just the epitome of what is happening in our society how the old buildings are being destroyed, taken away.”
CNN hears that this sense of loss is what motivates many Afro-Brazilians to continue to fight to preserve what’s left, utilizing everything from worship to carnival.