Africa: How Afro-Brazilian slaves of Yoruba descent settled in Ghana following the 1835 Great Revolt in Bahia
The Agudas or Tabom people of Ghana are Afro-Brazilians of Yoruba descent who resettled in Ghana as slave returnees in the 19th Century.
They are identifiable as they commonly have surnames like de Amorin, Azumah, Benson, Cardoso, Da Costa, De Medeiros, Nelson, Nunoo, Olympio, Palmares, Pereria, Santos, Souza, Silva and Wellington.
When they first started arriving in Accra and south of Ghana, they could only speak Portuguese. They greeted one another with the Portuguese greeting “Como Está?” which is replied with “Tá bom”. Hence, the Akan, Ewe and Ga people along the coast started calling them the Tabom people.
According to a study conducted in Ghana in the 19th century, it is estimated that between 3,000 and 8,000 former slaves returned to Africa. Those who took part in the Malé Revolt of 1835, described as the most significant slave rebellion in Brazil, resided in Ghana, Benin, Nigeria and Togo.
The Tabom directly from Brazil arrived in Ghana via a ship dubbed SS Salisbury, which was sponsored by the British.
Close to 70 individuals with seven different families docked in James Town in 1836; among them being Nii Azumah Nelson. The new arrivals decided to settle in Accra due to the welcoming reception they received from the Mantse Nii Ankrah of the Otublohum area.
Some of them settled in the Brazil House, located on Brazil Lane in James Town.
Adept in agriculture, irrigation, carpentry, architecture and tailoring, amongst other professions, the Tabom people planted cassava, mango, beans and additional vegetables.
They also founded the first tailoring shop in the West-African country in 1854 named the First Scissors House. Their first major assignment was supplying the Ghanaian Army with uniforms.
The Tabom people’s contributions to the society are deeply enrooted in the Ghanaian way of life and felt till this day.
Accepted by the Akan, Ewe and Ga’s, the Tabom people married them which enabled them to fully integrate into the culture and speak the different languages eloquently.
This also facilitated the Tabom people to acquire land in prestigious neighborhoods such as Asylum Down, James Town and North Ridge. Some of their properties were vast plantations.
The Tabom people can be found in Osu, Kokomele, Sekondi-Takoradi and Cape Coast in addition to the aforementioned places above.
Some notable Tabom people are the renowned boxer, Azumah Nelson, Dan Morton, a famous tailor living and working in Ghana and Nii Azumah V.
By FARIDA DAWKINS