Introduction
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xvii Introduction Several hundreds had gone back to the shores whence they had been carried in chains and were moving inland to their old homes. —Christopher Fyfe, A History of Sierra Leone S ometime during the 1820s, a group of liberated African slaves on a ship from Brazil arrived in Accra, Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast), to find a new home (figure 1). Their unmatched fortitude had an impact on their history thereafter . The ex-slaves’ desire to move back across the Atlantic waters greatly inspired their descendants, the Tabom, who were born in Ghana from the nineteenth century on, to follow a similar trajectory toward Brazil. Although welcomed by Gã Mãŋtsɛ (Gã King) Tackie Komeh I, the leader of Accra (1826–56), the ex-slaves who survived slavery would find themselves under threat from British colonial officials, European Christian missionaries, and traders vying for control over the social, political, commercial, and religious spaces as well as land.1 ThisbookistheuntoldstoryofthesefreedBrazilian-AfricanslavesandtheTabom. Although this story is part of reverse migration history, until now the field lacked a fulllength study providing a broad historical narrative focusing on this group of ex-slaves andtheTabom.Exploringthetrajectoriesoftheirtravels—themultipleroutestoandfro across the Atlantic in search of their ancestral roots and connections—help underscore their continuing relevance to discourse on the African diaspora. As such, this study weaves their story into existing stories of other returnee communities in Ghana, and Figure 1. Map of coastal Accra. NATIONAL ARCHIVES, KEW, UK. I n trod u cti on xix Africa in general. My book situates the role of historical memory and identity formations within the Brazilian-African diaspora, further contributing to ongoing diaspora and Atlantic discourse. Covering the multigenerational journey of the ex-slaves from enslavement to their liberation and beyond, my book explores three stages of their transatlantic migrations : involuntary migrations to Brazil, reverse migrations back to Africa, and their descendants’ visits to Brazil. In focusing on the plurality of their voyages from the New World to Africa and back to the New World, my book uncovers broader west-to-east and east-to-west journeys across the Atlantic. I expand the present perspective, while exploringtripsofasecondkindamongtheTabom,whocontinuetravelingfromGhana to Brazil seeking new links to their ancestral roots. It is in looking at the latter phases of this journey and its expanded view of reverse migrations that this work departs from the existing one-dimensional paradigm that traces journeys from the New World back to Africa. Along the same path taken by João Antonio Nelson, who found a home in Ghana with his parents in the 1830s following emancipation, soon after colonialism other prominent Ghanaians, such as Georgina T. Wood, have crisscrossed the Atlantic. Wood, like other Tabom, traveled in 2011 to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to visit the former home of her Brazilian ancestors and to hold meetings with government officials.2 Other claims about those who have visited Brazil are difficult to verify because there is insufficient evidence to support this assertion. Indeed, while it is true that some Tabom have traveled to Rio de Janeiro and Bahia/Salvador, or aspire to do so in the future, others, including the grandson of Chief João Antonio Nelson, Elder George Aruna Nelson, who died in 2009 at the age of ninety-three, could not fulfill that dream.3 Whereas for some who left Brazil for Ghana, the search for home was an attempt to reconstruct their identity, driven by a yearning to connect to their ancestral roots, others were searching for places to live, driven by curiosity and survival. The story and history behind this complex phenomenon unravels, focusing significantly on how dissonance of memory informs and continues to shape the Brazilian-Ghanaian Atlantic narrative in preserving the past and locating a home. The story of the ex-slaves slaves from Brazil and the Tabom is as fascinating as it is obscure, unlike the well-known histories of the “Aguda” (slaves that settled in Nigeria, Benin, and Togo), Americo-Liberians, the Sarro,4 and other resettled communities of emancipated slaves in Angola, Upper Guinea, the Amazonia region of Brazil, and Jamaica.5 As Silke Strickrodt rightly states, “there still are gaps in the historiography, [sic] one area that remain understudied is the Brazilian settlement in the coastal part of present-day Ghana.”6 The story of the ex- slaves and the Tabom remains largely unknown not only because of gaps in the literature but because of other factors affecting I ntroduction xx Ghanaian socioeconomic and political culture that...



Subject Headings

  • Freedmen -- Ghana -- History.
  • Immigrants -- Ghana -- History.
  • Africans -- Brazil -- Emigration and immigration -- History.
  • Children of immigrants -- Ghana -- History.
  • Ghana -- Emigration and immigration -- History.
  • Ghana -- Colonial influence.
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