Creating A Sense Of Identity And Belonging For The Yoruba Diaspora In Brazil
A flick through the internet and we see a series of intense debates woven around the existence and therefore correlating widespread impact gauge of the transnational indigenous Yoruba culture across the world, visibly unlimited by borders.
The Yoruba nation in Nigeria, proud descendants of their ancestor Oduduwa, the first divine king of Ile-Ife, South-western Nigeria, trace their origins to the ancient Yoruba city located in present-day Osun State. Ife, about 218 kilometers northeast of Lagos State. Ile Ife is therefore regarded as their cultural and spiritual homeland.
Yoruba language, known by its native name Yorùbá with roots in the Niger-Congo family is proudly one of the world’s most fascinating and extensively researched of all sub-Saharan languages and cultures. An impressive total of about 45.6 m people worldwide speaks Yoruba as their mother tongue, although, the Yoruba language has not received a badge as an official language in any country.
The Yoruba ethnic group spreads beyond the shores of Nigeria to neighboring countries like Bénin republic, some parts of Togo, and across the Atlantic to Brazil and Cuba, therefore constituting one of the largest single languages in sub-Saharan Africa. With a share of around 21%, the Yoruba language stands predominantly widespread in Nigeria.
In Brazil today, the deliberate misconstruing discourse of the tremendous rooted impact and the great legacy of the African cultural heritage transcended to its social, political, and economic circles remains indisputable. African presence and impact spread across different spheres ranging from technology, engineering, and beyond.
A quick look down history lane reveals Trans-Atlantic slave trade is responsible for the forced migration of millions of people from Africa to the West. Hence the origins of the Yoruba-speaking Brazilians. Brazil is noted for having a significant number of African slaves during colonial times.
Presently, pan Africanists point out there are 84 million Yorubás. With the migration of the Yorubas, their culture and religion known as Candomblé by Afro-Brazilians to Brazil, her relevance remained undiluted, birthing the Òrìsà-worshipping Yoruba-speaking people of Brazil known today.
Although Brazil’s official language is Portuguese, the country has a large number of Yoruba speakers. Unlike in Nigeria, where western influence has in no small measure eroded her pride in indigenous roots and culture, Brazilians hold their Yoruba heritage in high esteem and even worship gods; Shango, Ifa, Oṣun, to name but a few.
Each year, the tradition of coming together as an entourage, trooping to Ile-Ife to increase knowledge about the culture and language comes top of the list of adventures for Brazilian Yorubas. The Itaguai Osun festival in honor of the river goddess Osun is a must-attend for them.
But being resident in a foreign country has been far from the dream tale for foreigners; plagued by thriving racism, lack of integration, prejudice, racial-profiling, loneliness, lack of comfort, affordable shelter, generally largely defined by social, cultural, and linguistic barriers, everyday life for immigrants, prays the need for a change in narrative. The need to foster unity, provide stability and comfort for immigrant Yoruba-speaking Nigerians in Brazil begs for urgent intervention.
The burden weighs heavily, now this is where, I, Princess (Dr.) ToyinKolade, the newly installed IyalajeOodua steps in; with lens set on reintegrating Brazilian Nigerians to their roots by bringing them home, providing suitable accommodations, empowering them through different skill acquisition programs, this latest project unarguably falls in line with my long term vision to better lives and make a lasting impact.
Together We Can! Let’s join hands together to make this world better for all.