African diaspora in reverse : the Tabom people in Ghana, 1820s-2009
MetadataShow full item record
The early 1800s witnessed the exodus of former slaves from Brazil to Africa. A number of slaves migrated after gaining manumission. Others were deported after they were accused of committing various “crimes” and after slave rebellions. These returnees established various communities and identities along the coastline of West Africa, but Historians often limit the scope to communities that developed in Benin, Togo and Nigeria. My dissertation fills in this gap by highlighting the obscured history of the Tabom people—the descendants of Afro-Brazilian returnees in Ghana. The study examines the history of the Tabom people to show the various ways they are constructing their identities and how their leaders are forging ties with the Brazilian government, the Ghanaian government, and institutions such as UNESCO. The main goal of the Tabom people is to preserve their history, to underscore the significance of sites of memories, and to restore various historical monuments within their communities for tourism. The economic consciousness contributed to the restoration of the “Brazil House” in Accra which was opened for tourism on November 15, 2007, after a year of repairs through the support of the Brazilian Embassy and various institutions in Ghana. This watershed moment not only marked an important historical event and the birth of tourism within the Tabom community, but epitomized decades of attempts to showcase the history of the Afro-Brazilian community which has been obscured in Ghanaian school curriculum and African diaspora history. My central thesis is that the initiatives by the Tabom people are not only influenced by economic interests, but also by the need to express the “dual” identities that underlie what it means to the “Ghanaian-Brazilian.” The efforts by the Tabom leaders to project their dual heritage, led to the visit by Brazilian President Luiz Inácios Lula da Silva “Lula” in April 2005, who also graciously supported the restoration of the “Brazil House.” Through these interactions Lula extended an invitation to the Tabom chief and members of the community to visit Brazil for the first time. This dissertation posits that Lula’s invitation highlight notions that the African Diaspora is an unending journey.