Agudas: From Yorubaland to Brazil & Back

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Africans from many countries in the Americas returned to West Africa when they gained freedom from slavery. Some North Americans returned to Africa by way of Liberia, and some Brazilian Yorubas returned to Benin and Nigeria.

During slavery, Yoruba people were among the later ethnic groups to be captured. Yoruba-Brazilians, then, had clearer memories of their roots which allowed them to return home. Communities of Brazilian returnees, or Agudas, exist in Benin and Nigeria today. Souza/Sowzer and Vieyra, for example, are surnames that some Yoruba carry which speak to the family’s history of having had a Brazilian ancestor. In Nigeria there is even a neighborhood in Lagos called the Brazilian Quarter. Brazilian and Nigerian identities are inextricably linked on both sides of the Atlantic.

An art exhibit, Atlantic Triangle, is traveling the world and making its way to Rio de Janeiro in June, 2017 featuring work that captures the Aguda experience. If you are (or will be) in Rio in June, check out the exhibit at the Saracura Art Space.