Brazilian-African Diaspora in Ghana
The Tabom, Slavery, Dissonance of Memory, Identity, and Locating Home
Ruth Simms Hamilton African Diaspora
Published by: Michigan State University Press
Imprint: Michigan State University Press
Sales Date: 2016-10-01
Brazilian-African Diaspora in Ghana is a fresh approach, challenging both pre-existing and established notions of the African Diaspora by engaging new regions, conceptualizations, and articulations that move the field forward. This book examines the untold story of freed slaves from Brazil who thrived socially, culturally, and economically despite the challenges they encountered after they settled in Ghana. Kwame Essien goes beyond the one-dimensional approach that only focuses on British abolitionists’ funding of freed slaves’ resettlements in Africa. The new interpretation of reverse migrations examines the paradox of freedom in discussing how emancipated Brazilian-Africans came under threat from British colonial officials who introduced stringent land ordinances that deprived the freed Brazilian- Africans from owning land, particularly “Brazilian land.” Essien considers anew contention between the returnees and other entities that were simultaneously vying for control over social, political, commercial, and religious spaces in Accra and tackles the fluidity of memory and how it continues to shape Ghana’s history. The ongoing search for lost connections with the support of the Brazilian government—inspiring multiple generations of Tabom (offspring of the returnees) to travel across the Atlantic and back, especially in the last decade—illustrates the unending nature of the transatlantic diaspora journey and its impacts.
List of Figures and Tables
Part 1. From Brazil to Ghana: Unmatched Fortitude and Locating Home
Chapter 1. Reverse Diaspora: Dissonance of Memory, Voyages of Hope, and Degrees of Return
Chapter 2. Historicizing the Returnee Presence in Gã Mãŋ: Challenges and Silences
Chapter 3. The Social History of Gã Mãŋ: Colonialism and Their Impact on the Brazilian-African Diaspora
Chapter 4. The Evolution of Land in Gã Mãŋ and Brazilian-African Diaspora: Paradox of Freedom and the Birth of Conflicts
Chapter 5. Escaping Slavery into Colonialism and Squabbles: How Colonial Projects and Internal Disputes Threatened Brazilian Land and Freedom
Part 2. Contradictions of Return: Transporting Atlantic Traditions, Skills, and Cultures and Refashioning Identity
Chapter 6. (Re-)Creating Brazilian Slavery in an Enabling Environment: The “Ghost” of Slavery
Chapter 7. Contributions by the Brazilian-Africans and the Tabom: Impact on Ghana’s History
Chapter 8. Brazilians Together, Brazilians Apart: The Family Trees and the Process of Becoming Gã
Part 3. Diaspora in Full Circle: Home Is Ghana, Brazil Is Our Mother Country
Chapter 9. Fading Diaspora and Receding Memory: How the Brazilian Government and the Tabom Are Preserving the Brazil House and Crisscrossing the Atlantic in Full Circle
Chapter 10. Telescoping Lula’s Unfulfilled Promise and the Implications of the Tabom’s Visit to Brazil: A Hopeless Situation?
“Kwame Essien has written a valuable contribution to the historiography of Brazilian returnees in Africa. While analyzing the place of Brazilian returnees against the backdrop of Ghanaian society and British colonialism, his book also sheds important light on identity formation and the Tabom community’s memory of the historical ties between Brazil and Ghana.”
—Roquinaldo Ferreira, Vasco da Gama Associate Professor, Brown University
"This is a truly remarkable book. Kwame Essien casts refreshing light on the long, complicated phenomenon of diaspora-homeland relations. Impeccably researched and engagingly written, his text examines an understudied dimension of present-day Ghanaian-Brazilian relations: African perspectives on historical ties with the diaspora, and their place and significance in the conception of nationality. This is a significant contribution to the literature of Africana studies."
—Anani Dzidzienyo, Associate Professor, Africana Studies and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, Brown University
"This study of the Tabom is a long-awaited contribution by Kwame Essien to the literature on the African returnees from Brazil. There has been abundant work done on their communities elsewhere in Africa, but no in-depth, book-size scholarly text on Ghana—until now a kind of missing link in this rather fascinating aspect of the Black Atlantic experience."
—João José Reis, Professor of History, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Brazil, and author of Divining Slavery and Freedom: The Story of Domingos Sodré, an African Priest in Nineteenth-Century Brazil
"This is a well-researched social history of a long-neglected diasporic group in the reverse migration-to-Africa literature. Brazilian-African Diaspora in Ghana focuses on the lives of individuals and families that defied the one-way script of transatlantic slaving and created community in the “foreign” homeland of the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), all the while longing for connection to kin and memory created in Brazil. Their story has deep implications for studies of belonging, repatriation, and community building among recent diasporic Africans (re)settled in Ghana and in Africa writ large."
—Kwasi Konadu, Professor of History, Borough of Manhattan Community College, and executive director, Diasporic Africa Press
"This is a welcome addition to the expanding literature on reverse migrations in the African diaspora. Kwame Essien brings to life the ties between Brazil and Ghana created in the nineteenth century and persisting in the memories of the contemporary Tabom community. By tracing Tabom involvement in anticolonial struggles, land disputes, and modern professions, Essien shows that the African diaspora made important contributions to Africa itself."
—Lisa A. Lindsay, Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, author of Captives as Commodities: The Transatlantic Slave Trade