BRAZIL IS NUPE
In the 1650s a Nupe man called Gana Saba was caught and sold ingto slavery here in Central KinNupe. He was shipped to the Americas as a slave and landed in the port city of Salvador in today’s Brazil. He was made to work under inhuman and drudgework conditions by his White slave masters at a sugar plantation in the Alagoas area. He escaped from the plantation and went and set up a freetown for escaped slaves in the nearby Palmares area. This freetown became known to Brazilian historians as the Quilombo of Palmares.
Due to the extraordinary personalty and exceptional character of Gana Saba the Nupe man his Quilombo of Palmares became a gigantic city of escapee slaves, poverty-stricken White people, and indigent American Indians with a population of over 30,000 people.
The White Portuguese historians wrongly pronounced the Nupe name Gana Saba as Ganga Zumba. That is the name with which this great Nupe man is wrongly known to history today.
In any case Gana Saba became the king of this gigantic city of Quilombo of Palmares and he transformed the city into a Nupe city in the heart of Brazil thousands of miles away from here Central KinNupe. Gana Saba adopted the royal title of Etsu Jegu whereby Jegu was the name of Tsudi (Tsoede) the Founder of the Nupe Nation. The Portuguese pronounced the Nupe royal name ‘Jegu’ as Janga and that is where they got their nickname of ‘Angola Janga’ for Gana Saba. Angola is the name the Brazilian Portuguese give to any Black African settlement in Brazil since the first Black Africans to be exported as slaves to Brazil were from Angola.
The White slave master Portuguese of Brazil wrongly pronounce Gana Saba’s name as Ganga Zumba. But contemporary and official letters written by the Brazilian governor of the time to Gana Saba rightly addressed him in the letter as ‘Gana’. As we all know, Gana is a very popular and common name among Nupe people here in Nigeria to this very day.
In any case Gana Saba, or Ganga Zumba, transformed his gigantic city of the Quilombo of Palmares into a New KinNupe settlement right there in the Brazil of the 17th century. He established the Nupe religion of Eba or Ebasan or Ifa among the citizens of his Quilombo of Palmares, he taught them the Nupe martial dance of Kangi or Capoiera, he also encouraged the traditional Nupe marriage form of polygamy and he was personally married to three wives as he said Tsudi (Tsoede) the Founder of Nupe married three wives, and so on and on.
Gana Saba the Nupe King of Brazil eventually became the most powerful individual in 17th century Brazil and the White slave owners and the Brazilian Government saw him as formidable threat to the slave insitituion that was the foundation of the Brazilian society in those days. The Brazilian Government authorities consequently began to organize raids and attacks against Gana Saba’s Quilombo of Palmares on an annual basis but were always repelled and defeated by the Palmarinos who were well trained as warriors by Gana Saba popularly known to the White men as Ganga Zumba.
In any case Gana Saba or Etsu Jegu the Nupe King of Brazil was eventually poisoned and died in 1678. But by the time of his death Gana Saba or Etsu Jegu the Nupe King of Brazil established so many aspect of Nupe culture and sociology among all the people – Blacks, Mulatto, Amerindians and Whites – of Brazil such that to this very day in the opening decades of the 21st century the culture and sociology of Brazil is overwhelmingly Nupe in essence and outlook.
Nupe Population of Brazil
Today Black Africans form only a little above 10% of the population of Brazil today. But that has not always been the case. There were times in the past, in the 1820s for instance, when about 60% the population of Brazil was Black African. In those days a large section of that 60% Black African population of Brazil was also overwhelmingly Nupe known in those days as the Nago. And such was the preponderance of Nago or Nupe population and the level of intermarriage between the differences races from those 16th century days to date that today almost everybody in Brazil regardless of race has Nupe bloods in him or her.
Over 90% the population of Brazil today is of Nago or Nupe descent. More than half the population of Brazil was initially made up of Nago or Nupe slaves and their descendants who were shipped through the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to the Americas.
In fact many of the people recorded or documented as Nago, Takua, Aratako, Males, Minas, and even as Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, and so on and on, among the slave records of Slave Era Brazil were actually Nupe people and slaves. Even S.W. Koelle in his monumental Polyglotta Africana made the mistake of mistaking many Nupe slaves repatriated to West Africa as belonging to other non-Nupe tribes.
But the truth remains that an overwhelming majority of the slaves and their descendants in Slave Era Brazil were full-blooded Nupencizhi.
In the days before, and even immediately after, the Bahia Slave revolt an overwhelming section of the Brazilian population was Black African Negroid and Nupe in particular. The point here is that the Nupe population forms the foundation of the Black population of Brazil right from the beginning.
In fact when Tapa Oshodi, the Nupe Chief from Lagos, visited Brazil in 1846 all the Black people in Brazil in those days said that they are Nupe and that they would love to migrate en masse back to KinNupe.
Nago Nupe Slaves of Brazil
The Nupe slaves have always dominated the slave population of Brazil almost right from the beginning. There is no denying the fact that in the beginning the earliest Black African slaves to be shipped to Brazil where from Central Africa and Angola. But almost immediately the population of the Black African slaves arriving Brazil changed from being dominated by Angolans to being dominated by the Nupes.
The point here is that the White Portuguese from Europe first arrive Brazil in the 1500s and they were just establishing their first permanent settlements in Brazil in the 1530s when, at that same 1530s, civil and internecine wars boke out here in Central KinNupe when a re-emergent Songhai Empire under their charismatic leader Askia the Great invaded the Western Half of the Greater KinNupe of those days and threw the entire Nupe Nation into a tumultuous cataclysm of crises that led to the rise and fall of several Nupe kingdoms, massive population displacements and unprecedented rise in the capture and sale of Nupe slaves who were ultimately shipped across the Atlantic to the Americas.
It so happened that from the 1550s onwards the number of Nupe slaves and slaves arriving from the KinNupe general area, generically referred to as the Nagos, began to increase geometrically over the years that in the following decades it got to a stage that over half the population of Brazil’s population of 3.5 million people of the early 19th century were Black Africans an overwhelming section of whom were actually Nupe or, as they were generally referred to by Brazilian historians, Nagos or Minas.
In the beginning the White slavers refer to all Nupe slaves and slaves coming from the KinNupe general area as the Nago.The Portuguese slave merchant actually got the national name ‘Nago’ from the Fon people of today’s Benin Republic or former Dahomey. It was the Dahomey people, who were themselves originally a Nupe people, who were still referring to the people of KinNupe, and not of Yorubaland, as the Nago.
The etymology of this ancient Nupe national name ‘Nago’ goes far back into the ancient days when KinNupe used to be known as Gungu. Both Sultan Bello and Sir H.R. Palmer have authoritatively documented the fact that KinNupe used to be known as Gungu in prehistoric times. As a matter of fact Mungo Park narrated that KinNupe was still variously known among some people as Gungu, Gungura or Guangara right unto his days.
In any case Gungu, Gungura, or Guangara was also pronounced, in a dialectal variant manner, as Gunguna or, in a shortened form, as Guna. It was this Guna that was also pronounced, in its mirror-image form, as Nagun which is the way in which Professor Sigismund Koelle originally wrote it before it was later on Latinized into Nago. And that is the real and true origin and etymology of the national name Nago as applied to the Nupe in prehistoric times.
So, the Nupe people were known in former times as the Nagun or Nago and it was this national name of the Nupe people that got transported across the Atlantic during the Slave Era to the Americas where the Nupe slaves and ex-slaves became known with the general name Nago.
In fact the Fon people of Dahomey, who were themselves a Nupe people in the past, usd to refer to themselves and other peoples of Nupe origin as the Fanagun and this was later on shortened into simply Nagun or, as we pronounce it today, Nago.
It is very wrong, and rather fraudulent, for Yoruba revisionist hegemonists to try to arrogate the ancient Nupe national name ‘Nagun’ or ‘Nago’ to their Yoruba ethnicity. The Yoruba hegemonists are now claiming that they are the ones referred to as the Nagos in the days of the Slave Era in Brazil.The truth, however, is that the Yoruba have never been known or referred to as Nago either here in Nigeria or over there in Brazil. Neither in the past and nor in the present has the Yoruba people ever been referred to or identified as the Nago.
And, more tellingly, is the fact that the Yoruba people have never used the term ‘Nago’ for themselves before. As a matter of fact the national name ‘Nago’ has no meaning in the Yoruba language as it is not in the Yoruba vocabulary. So, how can the Yoruba people be the Nagos when they never knew or use the name Nago before?
Professor Sigismund Koelle was among the first workers to wrongly refer to the Yorubas as the Nago. This mistake on his part may, however, be forgivable considering the fact that in his days the Yoruba people did not exist as a single ethnicity as we see them today. In the days of Professor Koelle there was not a Yoruba people or a Yoruba race. There were the Ijesa, the Ijebu, the Ekiti, the Egba, the ketu, the Ife, and so on and on. But all these different people were not grouped into an all encompassing race called the Yoruba. Only the Oy people were originally known as the Yoruba but the Oyo were a Nupe people through and through.
After Professor Koelle’s mistake of identifying the Yorubas as the Nagun latter workers came and developed this mistake further. That was the case of Professor João José Reis who based the theme of his book ‘Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia’ entirely on the concept that the Yorubas were the Nagos.
But Professor João José Reis’s book, and others, is completely and totally wrong in identifying the Yorubas as the Nago. As we all know, there was not a Yoruba race until the White man came by the end of the 19th century and invented a Yoruba race out of the miscellany of tribes and ethnic units that abound in the Western Nigeria of those days. It was this artificial Yoruba race invented by the White colonialists at the end of the 19th century that people like Professor João José Reis came to, in a retrospective manner, to arrogate the Nupe national name Nago to back in the early decades of the same 19th century.
The Yorubaman was, for all practical purposes, invented by the White man during the colonial period at latter half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century therefore there is no way the Yoruba race that came about at the very end of the 19thcentury could have been the Nago of the 17th through the 19th century Slave Era in Brazil.
And it was in the same manner that the Colonial scribes used the Nupe term Yoruba of the Nupe people of Oyo as a blanket term for all these people including the Egba, the Ijesa, the Ekiti, the Ilesa, and many others, so also did Professor Koelle earlier on used the Nupe term Nago of the Nupe people of Gbara to wrongly refer to the Yorubas as the Nago.
That the Yorubas are not the Nagos is documentarily corroborated by the fact that many Yoruba slaves and ex-slaves categorically stated in police reports after the Bahia Slave Revolt of 1835 that they the Yorubas are not Nagos but that they are Ijesa, Ijebu, Egba and so on and on.
The Nagos in Slave Era Brazil were the Nupe freedmen and slaves who originally came from the KinNupe general area in those days when the Nupe people were known as the Nagoro or Nago back here in Central KinNupe.
As the Nagos in Brazil the Nupe people dominated the Black African population of Brazil. As a matter of fact several documents have repeatedly demonstrated the fact that the Nupe people, known as the Nago, have consistently constituted roughly 80% the population of Black Africans in Brazil throughout the Slave Era and even afterwards.
There is similarly a confusion regarding the term Mina as applied to slaves coming from the West Africa region. So many workers are totally unaware of the true origins of the national name Minas as it came to be applied to West African slaves and their descendants in Brazil and other parts of South America.
Before Nago became popular as a term applied to the Nupe people in Brazil, the equally national term Mina was earlier on used to applied to an even more broader collection of tribal units and ethnicities from West Africa and the Guinea Coast in particular.
What most of these Western research workers are not aware of is the fact that the Central KinNupe area used to be known in former times as Mina.It was El Bakri, the Arab historian and globetrotter, who wrote in the 1060s that the place we know as KinNupe today used to be known in very prehistoric times as the ‘Land of the Demdems’ or Dama Dama or Mama or Mara.
Lady Flora Shaw then discussed that this same KinNupe known as Ed-Demdem in those prehistoric days was also known as Mina which is a morphological derivative of Mara or Mama which was a national name of the Nupe people right unto very historic times. As a matter of fact the historiography of the Agaie area of KinNupe to this very day narrates that one of the first and a most autochthonous Nupe people of the Agaie general area were known as the Mama and that it was the Ganagana and Dibo who eventually came to displace the Mamas from the Agaie general area.
In any case the Mama Nupe people were also known variously as the Mara, Mira or Mina. And then Lady Flora Shaw went on to point out to us that in very prehistoric times, and as recorded by various Arabian and even Classical Greek sources, there used to be a gargantuan colossus of a Black African Goddess carved out of a rock, much like our Zuma Rock of today, in the central part of this ancient Mina area of Central KinNupe. Lady Flora Shaw said that that colossus used to be referred to as the Colossus of El-Mina or, since it was the statue of a Goddess, the ‘Colossus of the Queen of El-Mina’.
Incidentally a great Nupe queen was born several centuries later around the place that the gargantuan colossus of El-Mina used to stand and, according to Lady Flora Shaw, Sultan Bello wrongly referred to this great Nupe queen of latter times as the ‘Queen of Al-Mina’ or, simply, as the ‘Queen Amina’ or which the Hausa city chronicles came to add ‘of Zaria’.
Whatever the truth of the matter might have been the fact is that KinNupe was the place known and referred to in ancient times as Mina and when Nupe slaves were exported in large numbers from the 18th century onwards from KinNupe these slaves came to be known as the Minas in the Americas.
So, it was Nupe slaves that were originally known as the Minas because it was KinNupe that used to be known in ancient times as Mina.
In Brazil the term Nago almost came to overshadow the term Mina in the 18th century until after the Males Slave Revolt in 1835 which resulted in the massive transfer of Nupe slaves from Bahia to Rio de Janeiro where they became popularly known as the Minas again.And so was it that the Black African Negro slaves and their descendants of Nupe origins became known again as the Minas to this very day in the Americas.
Nupe the Culture of Brazil
The large and overwhelming Nupe population of Brazil during the Slave Era led to a situation whereby every aspect and facet of Brazilian life and culture became permeated and perfused by this strone essence of ancient Nupe culture. Brazil in essence became Nupe. And to this very day Brazil is essentially Nupe.
The traditional culture of Brazil is undergirded by this strong Nupe milieu to this very day.
Nupe the Language of Brazil
Brazilian Portuguese is overwhelmingly dominated by Nupe loan words and words of Nupe origin to this very day. As a matter of fact the Portuguese language spoken in Brazil is more or less a combination of the Middle Nupe language with the Portuguese language. This is as a result of the large number of Nupe slaves who were exported to Brazil during the slave era and the consequent large population of Nupe people that dominated the culture and language of Brazil in the past.
So overwhelming was the Nupe population of slave era Brazil that Nupe became a Lingua Franca among not only the Black but even the White population of Brazil in former times. In fact Nupe was still spoken openly in Brazil as recent as the 1920s or the first decades of the twentieth century.
To this very day the Black people of Brazil use the Nupe language in their religious liturgies even though they don’t understand the language anymore.
Nupe Dance of Brazil
The music and dance of Brazil is almost completely derived from ancient Nupe music and dance. In ancient times the Nupe people believe that music and dance were not for entertainment but were both for the attraction of the Nusa or Orisha ancestors and guardian angels into the body of the initiates who perform the music and the dance. This ancient Nupe philosophy of music and dance forms the basis of all the traditional religions of Brazil and Candomble today.
And it was from the music and dance of these Nupe originated traditional religions of Brazil that the modern music and dance of Brazil are almost all derived.
The Salvador Carnival of Brazil, the largest carnival in the world, began as a Nupe carnival and is essentially Nupe to this very day. Salvador, the capital of Bahia, was a Nupe settlement through and through until recent historical times. It is true that Salvador was originally founded by the White Portuguese in 1549 but when the Nupe slaves started arriving in Salvador their population became too overwhelming in Brazil that to this very day Salvador has remained, since the 17th century, the city with the largest population of Nupe people or people of Nupe descent not only in Brazil but throughout the world. In fact the famous Male Rebellion or Bahia Slave Revolt by the Nupe people actually took place in the city of Salvador da Bahia.
The Capoeira martial dance of the Brazilians to this very day originated from the Kangi martial dance of the Nupes.Capoeira is a form of martial dance that is popular in Brazil. It is composed of skilful kicks, cartwheels, handstands and air acrobatics. Today it is mainly practised as a form of cultural sports for entertainment and is also a major tourist attraction.
But in the past Capoeira was a deadly martial art that was repeatedly banned by the Portuguese colonialists and the Brazilian authorities. This is because it was, in those days, a deadly martial art that belonged to the Negro slaves resisting the horrors and inhumanity of slavery in slave era Brazil.
Capoeira was essential to the survival of the Negro identity in slave era Brazil. It was essentially employed by the slaves to protect themselves against not only inhumanity and possible demographic decimation but also as a means of cultural and national survival. That was how Capoeira became the principal tool used for the establishment of the Quilombo Negro communes and multicultural states the most popular of which was Palmares.
Capoeira was, accordingly, a paramount means for the survival of the Negro culture in Brazil and other neighbouring Latin American countries.
That Capoeira was developed into its modern form in slave era, and even post-slave era, Brazil does not, however, preclude the fact that Capoeira has roots tracing back to West Africa, the Slave Coast from which the slaves of Brazil originated.
Capoeira, in its original and pristine form, has been practised in Africa since time immemorial. Ritual and martial dance has been a culture of the Black African Negro since before the advent of this modern era of history. In very ancient times the art of dancing was a sacred ritual to the African gods. It was the ancient African philosopher-priests who were the high priests of the ritual art of dancing. Dancing was a ritualized form of communication in which non-verbal body language is synchronized with spiritual music or sounds as a medium of communicating with the ancient African gods.
It was from Black Negro Africa that the ancient ritual of dancing was exported to lal other parts of the world.
Even the ancient Egyptian records narrated stories of king Neferkare, and many other ancient Egyptian pharaohs, inviting Negro witch-doctors, actually philosopher-priests, to come and teach the ancient Egyptians religion and spiritualism through Negro African ritual dances. The ancient Egyptians learnt the art of dancing, originally ritual dance, from the ancient Black African Negroes back here in the heart of Black Negro West Africa.
It was from here, from Black Negro Wes Africa, that the art of ritual dance in the form of martial dance spread to China and the rest of Asia in very ancient times.
Bodhidharma, the first of the Chinese patriarchs and the definitive formulator of Shoalin monasticism was the first to introduce African martial arts, including the popular Kungfu of today, to China. Bodhidharma was a Black African Negro 5th century AD Buddhist missionary from West Africa.
So, ritual dance, also expressed in the form of martial dance or martial art, has been exported from Black Negro West Africa to other parts of the world in ancient times.
The Brazilians said that Capoeira came with the Black African Negro slaves exported from West Africa in the days of slavery. It has been variously said to have been of Angolan or Central Nigerian origins.
Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art, was transported from Central Nigeria to Brazil during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Era. The historical roots of Capoeira can be traced to the ancient martial dances that are still extant in KinNupe to this very day.
It is an historically documented fact that almost the entire population of Brazil, over two hundred million people today, are directly and indirectly originated from Nupe. Everybody in Brazil today – the Blacks, the mullatoes and the Whites – have Nupe blood in them in a variety of percentages. Everybody in Brazil in today is of Nupe origin in one way or the other.
When Tapa Oshodi visited Brazil in 1846 all the entire Black population of Brazil told him that they are Nupe people and that they would like to com back to KinNupe here in West Africa.
Brazil was founded on Nupe labour by Nupe culture manipulated by the White slavers of the 19th century. It is no wonder that to this very day everything about Brazil is Nupe through and through. And Capoeira was just one of these ancient Nupe cultures that have survived intact in Brazil to this very day. Capoeira is nothing but the Brazilian survival of the ancient Nupe martial art of Kangi. This Kangi is still a popular martial art dance practiced in KinNupe to this very day.
All you need to do is to take a look at the Kangi martial dance of Nupe and a video of the Capoeira martial dance of the Brazilians and you won’t need to be told that the two are one and the same martial dance. The same skillful kicks, cartwheels, handstands and air acrobatics.
It was Brazilian Nupe slaves who revolted against their White slavemasters by establishing the Quilombo rebel settlements separate from the towns and cities of the White men. In these Nupe settlements of Brazil, the most famous of which was the Palmares settlement of Ganga Zumba the Nupe man, the Nupe Brazilians practiced and perfected the ancient Nupe ritual dance of Kangi into the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira.
As a matter of fact the Samba traditional religious dance that has become a national culture of Brazil today was originally formalized by Hila ısta de Almeida popularly known as Aunty Ciata who was a Nupe woman who was born in the Brazilian Nupe city of Salvador da Bahia in 1854. Using her public figure of a candy confectioner and seller of sweets and pastries and as a Samba dance teacher guise Aunty Ciata was able to successfully initiate many people into the secret Nupe spiritualism and religion of Ebasan at her house in Rio de Janiero. Aunty Ciata was so proud of her Nupe heritage she was always dressed in traditional Nupe dresses even though she was never ever able to visit KinNupe in Nigeria and lived all her life in Brazil.
Nupe Food of Brazil
Even the food and cuisine of Brazil remains to this day essentially a Nupe cuisine. In Brazil the Nupe delicacies of Akara, or deep-fried beans cake, Kpami or Okro soup, etc, etc, remain major cuisinary elements to this very day.
Akara or Akaraje, known in KinNupe popularly as Kara, is a deep-fried beans cake of Nupe origin. Akara or Kara was obviously exported to Brazl by Nupe slaves from here in KinNupe.
The national and staple dish of Brazil, known as Feijoada, is also of West African, KinNupe roots. Feijoada is an austere dish made basically of beans and meat, cooked together. This Feijoada, of course, is strikingly similar, in its simplicity, to the original Zowa dish, now a soup, of the Nupe people.
Nupe Religion of Brazil
All the religions and spiritual systems of Brazil are permeated by the doctrines and tenets of the ancient Nupe Traditional Religion of Eba or Ebasan. This ancient Nupe spiritualism or religion, known as Ifa among the Yorubas who also originally got it from the Nupes, is still practiced in all its vigorosity, though underground, as the Ebasan fortune-telling spiritualism here in KinNupe to this very day.
All the traditional and local religions of Brazil are seriously undergirded by the essence of the traditional spiritualism of ancient KinNupe. We see, for instance, that the underlying belief in an almighty God and his pantheon or coterie of intermediary gods which form the essence of ancient Nupe spiritualism also form the essence of all the traditional and local religious and spiritual systems of Brazil. Candomble, Voodoo, Santeria, Lukumi, Abakwa, Ubanda, and all other traditional religious systems of Brazil are all based on this essential belief in an almighty God who can be reached through the intermediation of the lesser gods known variously as the Orisha, angels or even as patron saints.
The traditional religions of Brazil are essentially Nupe to this very day. The large population of Nupes in Slave Era Brazil led to the expansion of the traditional Nupe spiritualism and religion of Eba or Ebasan, known as Ifa among the Yorubas, among the general Brazilian population. This Nupe traditional spiritualism and religion have ramificated into various forms including Voodoo, Santeria, Lukumi, Abakwa, Candomble, and have also syncretised with Roman Catholicism to produce Brazil and Latin America’s unique and peculiar form of Catholicism.
Voodoo, and all other forms of Brazilian traditional religion and spiritualism are derived from Ifa or Eba or Ebasan which was the original Nupe spiritualism perfected by the Founder of Nupe famously known as Tsudi (Tsoede) alias Etsu Akpara or Shango Tapa.
It was also the Nago Nupe people in Bahia who invented and developed Candomble which has become a leading religion of the Black African peoples in the Americas today. Candomble has close to three million members today and it is still growing fast throughout the Americas and is said to have started gaining adherent even right back here in Nigeria.
Candomble was invented by Nago Nupe residents of Salvador in Bahia when they tried their best at reviving the ancient Nupe religion of Eba or Ifa which they brought with them from here in Central KinNupe. With time some aspects of the Catholicism of Christianity and elements of the traditional religions of the slaves from Central Africa and Angola were also syncretized into Candomble but to this very day Candomble is over 80% pure Nupe spiritualism of Eba or Ebasan otherwise known as Ifa among the Yorubas.
In fact the very famous Candomble high priestess called Iya Natso or Francisca da Silva was a Nupe woman. That Francisca is a Nupe woman is further corroborated by the fact that her spiritual title ‘Natso’ is a Nupe name and, more importantly, is the fact that highest divinity or lesser god Nusa of the cult of Candomble perfected by Francisca da Silva is a Nupe god called Ndako. This Ndako god is still worshipped for spiritual possession by Candomble faithfuls to this very day. Francisa da Silva or Iya Natso was the one who developed and refined the Nupe spirit possession practice of Candomble in the early decades of the 19th century until she was forced to flee Brazil back to West Africa after the Males Slave Revolt of 1835.
Candomble is nothing but the ancient Nupe spiritualism of Eba or Ebasan having survived in a form in the Americas. It was the large number of Nupe slaves shipped to Bahia through the port of Salvador that led to the emergence of Candomble in Salvador before it spread to the rest of Bahia and to all other parts of Brazil and the rest of South America. But to this very the city of Salvador remains the world headquarters of Candomble the Nupe Religion of the New World. Throughout the nook and crannies one sees the city repleted with the Terreiro chapels or temples of Candomble.
The Bahia Slave Rebellion was a Nupe Affair
The city of Salvador is the capital of the Bahia state in Brazil. This city of Salvador used to be the capital and largest city of Brazil before it was overtaken by Rio de Janeiro in later times. But in the Slave Era days Salvador was the largest city in Brazil and in those days it was a leading port for slaves from West Africa arriving i Brazil.
As a matter of slave trade records shows that 89% of the slaves that arrive Bahia or Salvador were Nago or Nupe slaves from West Africa. So, Salvador became the city with the largest concentration of Nago or Nupe people in Brazil. Salvador simply became a Nupe city in Brazil. The slaves and ex-slaves in Salvador were using Nupe language to communicate and Nupe culture as their culture.
It is not surprising therefore that this large population of Nago Nupe people in Salvador and the Bahia general area began to team up to organize slave revolts and rebellions against the inhumanity of slavery. Just between 1827 and 1830, for instance, several slave rebellions broke out in Bahia. And in January 1835 the greatest of these slave revolts by the Nupe people of Brazil took place.
On the night of Saturday the 24th of January 1835 a group of about sixty Nago Nupe slaves and ex-slaves bursted out unto the streets of downtown Salvador initiating the largest and most vicious Slave Rebellion in the history of Brazil. In a matter of hours the number of the Nupe rebels have snowballed to over six hundred slaves and ex-slave Nago Nupe rebels who almost conquered the large city of Salvador into a sovereign Nupe state independent of Brazil. The organizers of this Bahia Slave Revolt obviously had dreams of re-enacting the Haitian Slave Revolt of 1791 in a grand scale.
The over six hundred strong rebels were shouting “Long live the Nagos”, that is “Long live Nupe”, on the streets of Salvador as they unsuccessfly tried to capture one government office or building one after the other. They were faced with still resistance from the police and other security forces and when they eventually failed to take Salvador they marched out of Salvador where they were confronted by the Brazilian army that brutally crushed the rebellion killing over seventy Nupe rebels on the spot.
This Bahia Slave Rebellion was lead and made up of Nago Nupe slaves and ex-slaves of Salvador. This Bahia Slave rebellion, which came to be known as the Male rebellion, was a combination of six different Nago Nupe slaves and ex-slaves each with a Nago Nupe leader. The six leaders of this six groups were each Nago Nupe. Of these six Nupe leaders the overall leader was the Nupe Islamic scholar ex-slave leaders known as Sheikh Sanim Luis Ricardo da Silva. A second group was led by the Nupe man known as Mamman or Nda Salihu. The third group was led by a Nupe Islamic scholar known as Nda Dani. The fourth group was led by the Nupe man known as Sule or Nicobe. The fifth group was led by the Nupe Islamic scholar known as Manuel Calafate. The sixth group was led by the Nupe Islamic scholar known as Pacifico Likutan.
There was also a Muslim Nago Nupe slave known as Aruna or Haruna who was said to have played a key and leading role in that Bahia Slave Rebellion even though he was not the leader of any of the six groups.
Very few Hausa, Yoruba or other non-Nago Nupe people participated in the Bahia Rebellion. The Hausa, Yoruba and other non-Nago people did not join in the rebellion as they believed it was only a Nago Nupe rebellion. Police interrogators after the Bahia Slave Revolt shows that only one Hausa man joined the rebellion. The police reports also show that no Fulani slave or ex-slave joined the rebellion.
The police reports also show that the Bahia Slave Rebellion was a predominantly Muslim affair since most of the literate and elite Nago Nupes in the Brazil of those days were Muslims.Some of the rebels in this Nupe Bahia Slave Rebellion were actually people with extensive war or battle experience back here in KinNupe where they had served under the army of the famous Nupe war general called Solagberu who was once the chief of Kuwo before he led a successful rebellion against the Nupe kingdom of Oyo.
Male Slave Rebellion
That Bahia Slave Revolt of 1835 is also popularly known as the ‘Male Slave Revolt’ because in those days the Nago Nupe Muslims were popularly known as Male. This term, Male, is not of Yoruba origin as João José Reis wrongly adduced. The true origin of the word ‘Male’ as applied to the Nago Nupe Muslims in Brazil goes back to the story of Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji Tsatsa who was the first to initiate the Jihad enterprise for the establishment of a Caliphate in the Central Sudan, that is ancient Nigeria and its neighbours.
In 1778 this Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji, a Nupe man, was the first Jihadist ever to come up with the idea of setting up an Islamic Empire or Caliphate in the Central Sudan. He started by establishing Mokwa as his headquarters and from Mokwa he initiated a Eastern KinNupe-wide Jihad enterprise that conquered almost the whole of Eastern KinNupe into his nascent Nupe Caliphate or Mokwa Caliphate.
Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji later or teamed up with Etsu Jimada and even went up north to found the Sokoto Caliphate for the Fulanis Jihadists of Shehu Usmanu Dan Fodiyo.
But when Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji came back to KinNupe he was weakened by the demise of his political benefactor Etsu Jimada who had been killed by the combined forces of Etsu Zubairu Majiya and Mallam Dendo. The same allied forces of Etsu Zubairu Majiya and Mallam Dendo eventually succeeded in killing Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji at the village of Akere in 1829.
It was this Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji who was popularly referred to as the ‘Mallam’ or, as the local Nupe people came to pronounce it, Mali or Male and it was this Male that the people of Oyo pronounced as Imali or Imale which was the form that eventually got transferred across the Atlantic with the slaves to Brazil to become Mali or Male.
Others said that the term ‘Male’ actually came from the local pronouciation of Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji’s name ‘Abdurrahman’ progressively as Ramani, Mani, Mali or, as the Yorubas came to call it, Imale or Male. It was the followers or disciples of Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji that were originally known as the Mani or Mali or Male.
At first it was only the disciples, followers and Jihadist warriors and soldiers of Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji that were referred to as the Rahmanis, Manis or Malis. But with time every Muslim from KinNupe came to be known as Mani or Mali and during the days when Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji used his ‘Mani’ Jihadists to assist Kakanfo Afonja the Nupe man’s revolt against the Alafin of Oyo, the people of Oyo, and eventually all other Yorubas, came to refer to any Nupe or Nago Muslim as Mani or Mali. These Mani or Mali Jihadist followers of Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji also served under Solagberu and Mallam Alimi both of whom at one time or the other used Nupe Jihadists and Islamic scholars to form alliances with Kakanfo Afonja against Oyo.
It also happened that during Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji the Nupe man’s Jihad battles in Central KinNupe, in the Rima Valleys of Sokoto, in the Oyo Empire, and in many other parts of ancient Nigeria, a lot of these Nupe Muslim Jihadists were caught and sold into slavery with many of them arriving at the port of Salvador in Bahia, Brazil. These Muslim Jihadists and scholars who arrived in large numbers as slaves in the early decades of 19th century Brazil became generally known as the Males in Brazil.
It was this elite class of Nupe Muslim scholars, most of whom became freedmen or ex-slave Islamic scholars with their own Islamic schools and large followership, that became the leaders of the various slave revolts and rebellions in Bahia in those days. They repeatedly attempted to conquer Bahia into a Nupe Caliphate in Brazil. The Nupe Caliphate they have attempted to establish back here in Central KinNupe under Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji is what they continued to try to establish in Brazil.
In any case we can see that the origin and etymology of the term Male as applied in Brazil to Nupe Muslims goes to the Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji the ‘Mallam’ or ‘Mani’.
After crushing the Male Slave Revolt the Brazilian Government authorities decided to take measures to prevent any such occurrence again in the future.They started by taking active measures against the practice of Islam among the African population of Brazil especially in Bahia. They enforced mass conversion of the Nupe Muslim population of Brazil to Christianity. They correctly reasoned that a forced conversion to Brazilian Catholicism will eventually erase the Islamic-Nupe identity of these Nupe people after a generation or two.
The Brazilian authorities also banned the use of Arabic and Nupe as languages of communication among the African population of Brazil. Before that ban the Nupe language in particular was the Lingua Franca of the Nago peoples in Brazil. After the banned, however, Nupe and Arabic both became underground languages used only in religious prayers at the mosques of the Muslims and at the Candomble, Voodoo and Eba or Ifa temples of the Nupe traditional religionists.
The Nupe language continued to be openly spoken in Brazil, in a defiant manner, however, up to the 1920s before latter generations became compeletly unable to speak the language. Though, the old Gbidigi form of the Nupe language is still recited by Eba of Ifa, Voodoo and Candomble priests during their religious rituals and liturgies to this very day in terreiro temples and Ifa gatherings throughout Brazil. And this is despite the fact that the present generation of Brazilians doesn’t even understand the Nupe language anymore.
Then the Brazilian authorities embarked on the ambitious project of deporting as many Nago Nupes out of Bahia in particular and Brazil in general as possible. The Brazilian authorities immediately transferred a large number of Nago Nupes out of Salvador and Bahia to Rio de Janeiro while at the same time deporting even a greater number of Nago Nupe peoples completely out of Brazil back to Nigeria and neighbouring countries like Togo, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
This mass deportation and repatriation of many Nupe peoples, then referred to as the Mina or Minas, out of Bahia and Brazil led to a drastic drop in the population of African born pure Nupe peoples. Majority of the Nupe peoples or Minas who were allowed to remained in Bahia or Brazil were Brazil-born Nupes or Nupe slaves with no freedom or prospects at all of organizing any rebellion against their White slave masters.
Repatriation Back to Africa
It was after the Bahia Slave Revolt of 1835, spearheaded by the Nupe ex-slave Sheikh Sanim Luis Ricardo da Silva, that the Brazil authorities adopted the active policy of mass deportation of the Nago or Nupe ex-slaves back to Africa and also a systematic reduction of the Black African population of Brazil that have led to the population of Blacks in Brazil today being 10%.
In the beginning the population of Brazil was nearly 60 per cent Black African with an overwhelming section, about 80%, of this Black African population of Brazil being Nupe. This means that in those days the population of Brazil was roughly 50% pure Nago or Nupe.
And the Brazilians, both Black and White, are still proud of their Nupe ancestry to this very day. The Brazilians are still referring to themselves as a Nupe people to this very day.
Today virtually everybody in Brazil – the Blacks, the Mulattoes and the Whites – have overwhelming Nupe blood in them and Brazil today has the largest population of Nupe people anywhere in the world. The population of Nupe people and people of Nupe descent in Brazil is close to two hundred million in contrast to the thirty or so million population of Nupe people and their descent here in Nigeria. So, the Nupe population of Brazil is far more than the Nupe population of KinNupe.
Brazil is the largest concentration and bastion of Nupe people in the world today. Everybody in Brazil today, the Black Africans, the Mulatto Pardos, and the Whites, all have Nupe bloodlines in them. Everybody in Brazil today has Nupe blood in them in varying degrees.
After the Bahia Slave Rebellion popularly known as the Males Slave Rebellion which was organized, led and carried out by most Nupe Muslims, the Brazilian Government began to actively deport its Nupe population back to Africa not back to KinNupe but to several West African countries including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria. In Nigeria these Nupe returnee ex-slaves were variously settled in Lagos, Onitsha, Port Hracourt, Owerri and many other places. Thus we see a worldwide Nupe diaspora resulting from Brazil in those days of the latter half of the nineteenth century and the beginning decades of the twentieth century.
We should note the fact that this same Nupe population of Brazil was repartriated in large numbers to Lagos from the 1830s to the 1890s. In Lagos these Nupe people became known as the Aguda, the Saros, and the Portuguese people of Lagos and they can still be seen as a large, influential and indigenous section of the Lagos population to this very day.
Actually the Aguda of Lagos also includes Nupe people from Cuba, the so-called Afro-Cubans. Aguda is simply the Yoruba term for ‘Portuguese’ and is actually derived from a old term for Nupe people living in Brazil and other Portuguese-speaking countries.
These Nupe people repatriated back to Lagos in large numbers became the elitist class of Lagos. They ranked immediately below the Colonial White men in Lagos. And it was these Nupe Brazilians who played the key role in the building and development of Lagos into a major and influential city in throughout the 19th century. They changed the architecture, the economy, the politics, the religious, the educational system, the aesthetics, and every other social aspect of Lagos for the better.
The distinctive nature of Lagos architecture in the 19th century was due to the Portuguese or Brazilian style of architecture that these Brazilian Nupes brought from Brazil.
In the second half of the 19th century it was these Brazilian Nupes of Lagos who transformed Lagos into a commercial and economic centre of West Africa when they engaged in extensive trade and merchantilic activities between Lagos and KinNupe, Lagos and Europe, and Lagos and other parts of Nigeria and West Africa. When Etsu Masaba came to throne in the late 1850s he immediately established cordial and commercial relationships with the Brazilian Nupe community of Lagos encouraging them to engage in extensive trade and commerce with KinNupe. The result was the rise of the exceedingly wealthy and stupendously rich class of Brazilian Nupes of Lagos including people like Balogun Aliyu, James Babington Macaulay, Shitta Bey, Madam Tinubu and her husband, and so many others all of whom were Nupe people.
James Babington Macaulay, a Nupe repatriate, was the first man to open a secondary school in Lagos. The name of this school, CMS, dominates a central horizon of Lagos to this very day. It was James Babington’s son, Herbert Macaulay, also a Nupe man, who was to become the first Nigerian to register a political party and would have go on to become the first President of Nigeria had he not died suddenly in 1946.
So, many others of these Brazilian Nupe Lagosians and their descendants are the true builders of Lagos into the fame Lagos is today.
In any case the repatriation of Nupe people from Brazil after the Males Nupe Slave Rebellion back to West Africa was not restricted to Nigeria alone but was to several other West African countries especially the ones along the Gulf of Guinea. Many of these Nupe peoples repatriated from Brazil were variously settled in other West African countries including Ghana, Togo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, even as far as Angola, and others.
In fact President Sylvanus Olympio, who was both the first Prime Minister and the first President of Togo, was a Nupe descendant of the Nupe ex-slave Francisco Olympio Sylvio who was repatriated from Brazil after the Males Nupe Slave Rebellion. Francisco Olympio Sylvio was repatriated from Brazil after the Bahia Slave Revolt of the Nupe people. This Francisco Olympio Sylvio became the grandfather of Sylvanus Olympio the first Prime Minister and first President of Togo.
Below is are pictures of the Nupe Brazilians: (1) Brazilians at an annual Nupe Festival held to this day to commemorate the Nupe goddess of Nnakun known to the Yorubas as Olokun. A giant caste of the head of Nnakun or Olokun can be seen in the background with surrounded by Brazilians including young boys and girls dressed in traditional Nupe dresses. (2) A painting of a Nupe member of the Quilombo Nupe separatist settlements that were characteristic of Slave Era Brazil. The most famous of these Quilombos was Palmares which was founded by Ganga Zumba a Nupe man. (3) Picture Capoeira dancers of the ancient Nupe martial dance of Kangi which is still practiced in KinNupe to this very day. (4-6) Pictures of the Oduduwa Nupe dancers of Brazil. (7) Picture of a Nupe slave carrying the White child of her Brazilian White slave masters. The picture was snapped in 1860 in Bahia state the capital of which is Salvador which is the city with highest population of Nupe people in the world.