Brazilians in Lagos

Candido Esan da Rocha was the richest man in Lagos when I was a boy. I lie! When my mother was a girl. He was reputed to own a horse drawn carriage that took him across “Gada” (sic) bridge. It was always unclear whether “Gada” was a corruption of “Carter” or “Girder”. Candido lived at Water House at Kakawa and had piped water to his residence from Iju to Lagos Island and he sold it for profit to Lagosians. His father Joao Esan da Rocha had been abducted a child in 1850 and sold into slavery in Salvador, Bahia Brazil. He returned to Lagos in the 1870s. Candido’s mother was Angelica Josephina da Rocha.
It is difficult to imagine today that 10% of the population of Lagos was of Brazilian origin. Families such as Joaquim, Vera Cruz, Soares, Trezises, Pereira, Pineirho, Martinez, Marinho were leading members of society, artisans, educated men, and wealthy to boot. Their homes round about Campos Square, Igbosere, Tinubu square, built in the Portuguese colonial style stood out. Gonclaves Da Costa built the Shitta Bey mosque and the Cathedral Church of Christ Lagos was influenced by Brazilian architecture.
This was a different Lagos. Colonial Lagos. The tomb to the unknown soldier, Soja Idumota, stood at attention as you entered Eko from Ebute Metta, across the bridge. Tinubu square and for a time the working fountains. And, Western House and the Independence Building, the Race Course, the Polo Club and Lagos Motorboat Club. These varied insignias of colonial power and status dictated in silence who was in charge and who was excluded from governance.
Even in my childhood, you could still take the LMTS bus from Gbamgbose and through Igbosere, Obalende, to Keffi and if you were travelling further into Ikoyi, you changed and travelled Awolowo road and in my case stopped at Queen’s Drive. We lived just where Alexander Road, Queen’s Drive and Cooper Road merged. Ours was the last house on Cooper Road.
Across the road from us was Dr Ademola’s residence. One morning in 1967, I think, there was a flurry of Police activity. He had been murdered or more correctly assassinated. It was all hush hush! There had been a knock on the door and he had gone downstairs to open the door and he had been shot. Simple as that. His English wife, in the evenings used to stand practically nude, before the dressing mirror, facing the window, in silhouette, brushing her hair, getting ready for tea, I suppose. It was whispered that he had conducted the post mortem on the body of the Head of the Airforce and had found that he’d been shot before his plane crashed. Ademola had been killed merely to protect this piece of secret information, which was widely known in any case. Very murky waters! Many years later, when I was appointed Consultant Psychiatrist in Birmingham and was visiting the local surgery in Hall Green, Green Bank Surgery, I met Guy Houghton’s father who before Guy had run the surgery from the same house, a family house at the time. He said “I knew a chap once, a Nigerian who I shared digs with in Cambridge, tall and very dark, would you know him by any chance, Dr Ademola?” I said “Yes, he’s died”. The Yoruba say “Omi l’eniyan”, people are like water.
The Lagos of my childhood and adolescence was still well organised and predictable. You could walk into a post office and expect to be served. Street lights worked. Litter was collected. And even for a while milk was delivered to your door from farms in Agege.
Perhaps the Lagos-Portuguese connection rather than the Anglo Saxon one need not be surprising given that Lagos is named after a small port in the Algarve. And, if such anachronisms as saying an African site was discovered by someone other than an African is permissible then the dubious credit goes to one Lancelot de Freitas in 1450, with respect to Lagos. Of course, Lagos had been settled by Awori and Edo people from much earlier. The names of the islands, Eko (field) and Ikoyi (warriors’ camp) say something about the original occupants.
The Yoruba wars of the 1800s in which the Ekiti Parapo (Ekiti & Ijesha confederacy) was pitted against the Ibadan resulted in many prisoners of war and other captives being sold into slavery. At this time, trade with the English speaking New World had all but ended but Portuguese ships continued to ply the Atlantic and to trade in the Black Gold. Hence many Yoruba or Nago as they were often termed ended up in Brazil, particularly in Salvador Bahia. Joao Esan da Rocha was an example, an Ijesha with feet also in the New World.
Jorge Amado is the Brazilian author who spent his life chronicling this Yoruba diaspora. It is extraordinary to see how Yoruba deities survived in the New World, how the language too prospered and the rituals and culture, the food and manners flourished either in pure form or morphed, transformed. Although not Brazil, I remember once sitting at The Tropicana in Havana watching the most exotic show of sequins and feathers, of gorgeous women and even more beautiful women, all of them golden and toffee coloured, cinnamon. In this most profane of venues, suddenly the music and atmosphere changed and for 15 minutes, the drums were of a Yorubaland grove and the chanting of Ogun, Yemoja, Oshun, Shango, Onile and Eshu and all of it conducted in Yoruba. I think I was the only person in the audience who understood the chanting, the eulogies, the poetry. I think even the old man-priest was merely reciting from ancestral memory. It was a most remarkable event, sorrowful and intriguing.
Now, Amado’s literature was totally immersed in this world. In novels such as Tieta, Tereza Batista, Dona Flor and her two husbands & Tent of Miracles, Amado traced the Yoruba spirit of African Brazil. Angola sometimes but always Yoruba in candomble, in syncretic Roman Catholic Saints secretly named for Yoruba deities. And what about carnival?
The protagonist in Tent of Miracles, Pedro Archanjo is described as follows:
Some said that Archanjo was Ogun’s child and many thought he was son of Xango, in whose house he held a lofty place and title. But then the shells were cast and his fortune told, the first to answer was always Exu the idler, lord of change and movement. Xango came for his King’s Eyes and Ogun was never far away; Yemoja came, too. But in the forefront was the formidable laughing Exu, the daredevil who loved a joke. No doubt about it, Archanjo was his man.
And Archanjo’s view was that “The face of the Brazilian people is a mestizo face, and it’s culture is mestizo”, and if mestizo, then Yoruba is an essential aspect that freckle, that confluence of rhythm and dance that pulsates in the Brazilian viscera. And also in the Brazilian woman, immortalised in Amado’s writings, for example in Rosa de Oxala:
To tell you what Rosa, Rosa da Oxala, the black rose Rosa was really like, to describe her, with her velvet slippers, her night scent, that woman smell, that perfume, that blue-black skin of silk and petals, supple power rippling from head to foot, elegance and arrogance, her silver ornaments, the languor of her Yoruba eyes-oh, my love, only a famous poet could do it, a real poet with lyre and curly locks, not the troubadours of Bahia with their seven syllable verses.
To imagine the astonishing influence of Afro Brazilians in Lagos and the counterpoint influence of the Yoruba in Bahia yet the astounding caesura in the dialogue, wide as the Atlantic itself!

71 thoughts on “Brazilians in Lagos

  1. Dr.Oyebode,
    A fascinating piece regarding Brazilians in Lagos-particularly as I am one of Candido da Rocha’s descendants!My late father was Dr. da Rocha-Afodu,a famous Lagos Pathologist and Oxbridge Blue Polo Player-you may have heard of him.He was Candido’s grandson,and my family and I stayed in the Waterhouse ,Kakawa Street residence in the 80s.If you have/require any more information regarding this topic,you are welcome to contact me-I only live 10 miles from Birmingham.I would be pleased to meet you,discuss things,and help with photos etc,as I am very interested in this subject myself.

    Thank you!

    1. Dear Hilario,
      Good to hear from you. Yes, the history of Lagos is fascinating! My mother’s family are Saro & that’s another story in its own right. It would be great to meet up. I work 3 days a week and commute every other weekend to Hebden Bridge because my wife works up in Bradford. Perhaps we can see whether sometime in June would suit both of us. My email address is Feel free to email directly with your availability and I shall work round your diary. By the way did you go to Corona School Ikoyi, and if so, you might know my younger brother Gbenga. I think there was a Darocha-Afodu in his class. Best wishes,

  2. Hello, i stumbled on your blog while trying to research my grandmothers heritage. I think she was from an Afro Brazilian heritage called Agudas or so. She is part of the Carrena family but thats all i know. I am assuming you know quite a bit about such histories. I was wondering if it is ok to email you. I live in london and will be looking forward to hearing from you. Regards Consolata

    1. Dear Consolata,
      Thank you your message. “Aguda” is a Yoruba term referring to Afro Brazilian and Afro Cuban returnees to Freetown in Sierra leone and Lagos Nigeria and simply translates to “Catholic” because the returnees were Catholics. It is also the family name of an eminent nigerian jurist who was for a time Chief Justice of Botswana. You can find out more about him on Google.
      An alternative term to aguda was amaro also used to describe Afro Brazilians and afro Cubans. you might want to use that term in your further researches and it might bring up more information. Best of luck, Femi

  3. Hello Dr, I am a Yoruba man living in London and have always been fascinated by the history of my people. It can be a frustrating venture trying to find out more about the history of Lagos and what it was like in the precolonial and colonial years.
    Coming across blogs like yours is always a pleasure and I wonder how marvelous it would be if you committed your vast knowledge and pictures to a book, for generations yet unborn. I hope you don’t mind, I have shared your piece on my Facebook page for friends and family to enjoy as well.

  4. I was just googling for images of the Brazilian-style architecture of Lagos to butress a conversation I was having with a sociologist Igbo friend of mine when i happened on this delicious, poignant piece. I was encouraging him to take a bus to CMS and walk round the Island when next he’s in Lagos. I didn’t grow up in Lagos but my mum’s uncle (an Igbomina) had a house in Isale Eko and I can remember being on the train to Lagos as child beside my mum. She has her people in Idi Oro and other places on the mainland. Being interested in history, each time I go to Lagos I never miss the opportunity to walk round the streets of Lagos, Ikoyi, and V/Island as if in a museum of the modern and colonial history of Nigeria. I love Lagos. Enveloped in vicarious nostalgia I nearly get depressed from our people’s poor appreciation of our historical heritage and cavalier attitude to its preservation.

    I read out portions of this essay to my friend and was proud to tell him I once had lunch with you at Belgravia and am in possession of an autographed copy of your book Mind Readings. Have a good evening.

    It’s me, Muhammad S Balogun

  5. Hello My Name is Akinola Pedro, I’m from the United States and i stumbled across your blog and found it very fascinating that state of Lagos has so much history behind it. my father was born and raised in Lagos. I always wonder why my last name was “Pedro” and this article explains so much. my father did mention to me as a child that his family were descendants of Afro-Brazilians. but after over a decade I am now trying to figure out which one are we descendants of, the Agudas or the Amaros because i think he was raised a Muslim but he said he used to go to catholic churches when he was a kid. its very confusing haha.

    1. Dear Akinola,
      Good to hear from you. I’m not sure that there’s a difference between Aguda and Amaro. I think they’re both probably synonymous except that Aguda specifically refers to Catholicism- since most Afro-Brazilians were Catholics.I hadn’t realised that there were muslim Afro-Brazilians. Very interesting indeed. Best wishes,

      1. Dear Femi, reply may be coming so late but if you can do read João José Reis, Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia- it is the most extensive book ever written about slave rebellions in Brazil

    2. Dear Akinola,
      I came across your letter. As a true born Lagosian whose Family roots is in Oko Faji District of Lagos Island which is contiguous with the Brazillian Quarters, I can tell you that there are many Muslim Brazilian Families in Lagos. Some like the Elias and Agusto families were already Muslim before returning to Lagos. Others inter-married with indigenous Muslim women and those children who were raised by their mothers Families grew up Muslim. However most of the Aguda kids attended Holy Cross Cathedral school and St. Gregory’s College (Holy Child For girls) where they are well exposed to the catholic faith.
      As such, it is rare to find any Brazillian Family in Lagos today that does not have both Muslim and Christians among them be it the Pedros, Salvadors, Gomez, Gansallos, Lopez, Perreira, Carrena etc.
      There is a Brazilian Mosque and I believe the Imam is from the Salvador family. the Pedro’s family house is somewhere between Oshodi and Glover streets on Lagos Island.

      1. God bless you for shedding some light on this. if I’m not mistaken, i think my father also attend a catholic school during his child years i’d have to ask him. You seem to know a lot of info and I’d love to find out more, if you have a facebook i would love to connect with you and learn more.

      2. Thank you. My mother came from the Salvador family. My maternal grandfather established the Brazilian Mosque at Inabere street in Lagos Island, and he was the first Chief Imam of the mosque. My paternal grandfather Imam Salihu was the first Chief Imam of Lagos.

      3. As a historian based in Brazil who works on the history of the Aguda I am finding this conversation extremely interesting, both the original post and the comments about it. Mr. Abdallah, I believe I may have information about your ancestor Salihu Salvador, who founded the Salvador Brazilian mosque. If you would like to discuss this, please contact me via a page I manage on Facebook, Familias Agudás.

  6. …on the origin of the word ‘gada’, might it interest you that the Hausa use the same word to refer to bridge? However, they must have borrowed it from the Yoruba as it’s more likely that the earliest bridges in Nigeria were built in the the south rather than the Hausa-speaking north. Not much help I guess.

    1. Thanks for this. “Gada” I think is either a corruption of Carter (after the Governor General) or “girder” (type of bridge). Of course it could easily be a corruption of both since the first Lagos bridge was Carter Bridge as well as a girder bridge!


  7. ‘immediately Gowon Administration was overthrown in 1975, the new military rulers ordered city councils in all the major cities and towns in the federation to change the names of streets named after those members of the toppled regime.” The Lagos City council carried out this order and reverted back to the old name of Broad Street.

  8. My name is Syl Gansallo and I AM from “popo-aguda”
    I stumbled on your Blog because recently the Braziiian
    Consulate made a documentry on the Braziiian decendants
    of the in Lagos.

    I saw the picture of the house I grew up at it initial state. Wow.
    Thank you for the Blog .My great grand mother is Ms Da-Silva

    1. Dear Syl,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and make comments. Much appreciated. I agree much more should be made of the Afro-Brazilian presence and influence in late 19th and early 20th century Lagos. Best wishes,

    2. Please kindly shed more light on this..
      The below link is my great great grand father by name Lazarus Borgees Dasilva and whom gave birth to his only daughter Ms Sphia Da-Silva and then married to Gansallo and gave birth to seven set of twins with only one survival. My grand father Albino Taiwo Gansallo.,_Lagos

      Can you kindly shed more light about Lazarus Burgees Da-Silva. Also I need to send you a picture of the house I grew up which was at the junction of Tokunboh and Oshodi street

      SO. Gansallo

  9. Good Day Sir.

    My name is Kenneth and I came across your blog after I heard something in the news about Lagos and it’s link to Brazil. I know the Yoruba people have a relationship with Brazilians but your write up shed more light on this. For example, I only found out today that ”akara” which we eat, isn’t a Nigerian food but actually from Brazil and is called ”Acarajé”.

    Thanks for sharing this information and I hope people get the chance to read more and find out more about their history.

    This isn’t related to what I wrote above. Are you in any way related to Professor Akin Oyebode? I used to read some of his books when I studied for my International Law Degree.

    Best wishes,


    1. Dear Kenneth,
      Thank you for your interest in my blog. I hadn’t realised that akara has a Portuguese derivation. Very interesting indeed. Yes, Akin is my first cousin. Best wishes,

    2. Same with the food called frajon made from beans, coconut, cinnamon, etc and eaten with fish during lent and on good friday. An afro-brazilian infusion.

  10. Dear Femi… This is a long shot, but I came across your page during yet another search…I’ve been searching for a long time!
    My Grandmother was Abigail Susannah Crowther Macaulay (born in UK). She married Pedro Manuel de Sant’Anna in Lagos. I have lots of information about the Macaulay side of the family, but absolutely nothing for the Sant’Anna side apart from census info which gives his date of birth as 1875 and his occupation as Merchant.
    In a recent search I found info for Manuel Joaquim Sant’Anna in Lagos in the late 1800’s. He was a Merchant ‘occupying two warehouses in Kakawa St in 1888. It is described as a ‘Brazilian Commercial House’. So I suppose it’s possible that this man was my Great Grandfather but I can’t find anymore info on him or my Grandfather. I don’t know if he was African, Brazilian, Portugese.
    I have no idea where my Grandfather was born. My Dad was brought up in Lagos but never spoke about his father.
    The only other info I have was found in My Grandmothers belongings which says she was married at Lagos Cathedral. I’ve contacted them many times but haven’t had a reply.
    Do you know of anywhere, or anyone, who would have information on the Sant’Anna’s in Lagos?

    1. Dear Pat,
      Thanks for your message. Unfortunately I am unable to help. I am sure that you’re much more likely to be successful if you were in Lagos. The Cathedral Church of Christ Lagos is an Anglican cathedral whereas Afro-Brazilians were catholic (Agudas as described in Lagos), so the relevant church is likely to be the Catholic Cathedral. It is more likely that your forebears were Afro-Brazilians rather than Portuguese or Euro-Brazilians. Kakawa Street is in the Afro-Brazilian zone and in the 20th century was the Lagos equivalent of Fleet Street as the Nigerian Daily Times was situated there. With a name like Crowther Macaulay I wonder whether your grandmother was related to Ajayi Crowther first African Archbishop of West Africa (Anglican). His grandson was Herbert Macaulay who formed the NCNC and is a highly regarded nationalist politician. A street is named after him in Lagos. The Crowthers and Macaulays might be easier to track. Adadevoh (Professor of Clinical Biochemistry and Vice Chancellor University of Lagos) was Macaulay’s grandson and his daughter (she was an endocrinologist) unfortunately died in the recent Ebola outbreak in Lagos. There is a biography of Ajayi Crowther written by JF Ade-Ajayi (no relation) but this is out of print and costs hundreds of dollars to buy. You might find that contacting Adadevoh would be helpful.
      Best wishes,

  11. Hello Sir. Your blog has been quite enlightening and factual. I learnt a lot reading through especially, the comments. Well done sir.

  12. Hello sir quite interesting reading this article especially concerning how Yoruba language and culture survive in Brazil. However where do you place the AWORI people the original inhabitants of Lagos

    1. The aworis originated from ile ife, a prince from ife was given a calabash and told to follows the calabash to where ever it disappeared and that was how the name awori came about, ibi ti awo ba tiri ibe ni ki o tedo si and that’s how the name awori came to be and you can connect with the present ooni of ife for more info on Facebook

  13. Good day sir,

    Thank you for your brilliant write-up on the Internet concerning Brazilians in Lagos

    It was really inspiring

    I am an architect and lecturer from Lagos island

    I am writing a paper and I would like to receive your comments on the draft with any amendments you feel necessary

    Please see below

    I am still adding some pictures on Salvador House

    Have a great day sir

    Over the years, various Architectural Artifacts symbolizing cultural identity have been destroyed in Lagos Island. The main aim of this study is to create public awareness on the need to preserve architectural artifacts in Lagos Island.
    Apart from transforming these old buildings into United Nations Cultural Heritage sites, it is important for the Lagos State Government and population to realize the benefits of cultural tourism. Sustainable architecture involves the preservation of the built environment and cultural values of the people through the application of green architecture.
    The Salvador house was examined as case study in this paper being first house in Nigeria with Brazilian Vernacular Architecture. Mr. Hakeem Danmola was interviewed, being a fourth generation descendant of Mr. Ramos Salvador, who returned from Brazil to build the first house in Nigeria with Brazilian Vernacular Architecture style.
    Other notable points are the DaRocha house (former richest man in Africa with well-preserved Brazilian vernacular architectural details) and the Iga Suenu (palace worship center in the area where the British first arrived into Lagos Island).
    Findings revealed that some distant relatives were planning to demolish the Salvador house. Application of Green Architecture is recommended for sustainability of Architectural Artifacts.
    Visits were made to the site in Lagos Island, the office of the Lagos State Government and Brazilian Embassy. It is intended that this paper will motivate the Lagos State Government to take immediate action in preserving the architectural artifacts and cultural heritage of the people from Lagos Island.
    Key words: Architectural Artifacts, Brazilian Vernacular Architecture, Lagos Cultural Heritage, Sustainability

    An Artifact is an object made by a human being, typically an item of cultural or historical interest. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines artifacts as “something characteristic of or resulting from a particular human institution, period, trend, or individual”. defines artifacts as any object made by human beings, especially with a view to subsequent use. It describes the origin and history of the word as: a noun in 1821 – artefact, “anything made by human art,” from Italian artefatto, from Latin arte “by skill” (ablative of ars “art;” see art (n.) + factum “thing made,” from facere “to make, do”. In this paper, architectural artifacts of historical and cultural value in Lagos Island were examined.
    Nigeria is one of the African countries located in the Western part of the African continent. It occupies an area of 923,768 square km. Nigeria is presently made up of 36 states and a federal capital territory known as Abuja. The country is politically sub-divided into six geo-political zones with about 170 million people and is presently made up of about 400 ethnic groupings, speaking over 250 local dialects. Due to Nigeria’s multicultural nature, individual cultures that make up the nation Nigeria practiced a style of Architecture known as ‘traditional Architecture’. The country has transformed politically and has equally transformed architecturally. Traditional architecture initially practiced in Nigeria was influenced by various external forces which evolved into “Nigerian Vernacular Architecture.”
    Vernacular Architecture refers to the impact of external international architectural influence on the traditional architecture in a country. The concept of Nigerian Vernacular Architecture can therefore be described as the external architectural influence on Nigerian buildings from outside Nigeria. Osasona (2006) defines Vernacular architecture as the brand of architecture resulting from the traditional being conditioned by external forces, such influences of a socio-political/socio-economic nature which constitute diffusions from “a more advanced” to a “less developed” culture.
    Amole (2000) defines vernacular architecture as a “post traditional” that is what comes after traditional or what the traditional progresses to be. Aradeon (2008) defines vernacular architecture as a modification of traditional architecture.
    The 1833 Slaves abolition Parliament Act of United Kingdom abolished slavery throughout the British Empire. Prof. John Godwin and Gillian Hopwood in their work “Sandbank City: Lagos at 150” confirmed that in 1861 about 3,000 Nigerians who were earlier slaves taken to Southern America to work in plantations returned back to Nigeria in a British ship and settled in Brazilian Quarters in the Centre of the Island with Campus Square as the focal point of their activities.
    Some of the returnee slaves in the ship were: 1- Ramos Salus Salvador and Mrs. Maria Salvador (white Brazilian wife) 2- Dulvery 3- Santos 4- DaSilva 5- Maxilino 6- Machados 7- Ganzalos 8- Pacheco 9- Joaquim 10- Muniz 11- Cardoso 12. Maxilino 13- Fernandez 14- Domingo 15- Gomez 16- Teresize 17- Vivaldi 18- Britto 19- Campos 20- Augusto 21- Pedro 22- Veracruz 23- Nascimento (great grandfather of world renowned footballer Pele – Edson Arantes do Nascimento) 24- Masipin 25- Candido Da-Rocha 26- Branco 27- Do-Santos 28- Martinez 29- Balthazar Dos Reis 30- Nobre 31- Tiamyu 32- Joao De Costa 32- Soares 33- Trezises 34- Pereira 35- Pineirho 36- Marinho
    Gonclaves Da Costa built the Shitta Bey mosque

    Candido Esan da Rocha lived at Water House at Kakawa and had piped water to his residence in Lagos Island from Iju and he sold it for profit to Lagosians. His father Joao Esan da Rocha had been abducted a child in 1850 and sold into slavery in Salvador, Bahia Brazil. He returned to Lagos in the 1870s. Candido’s mother was Angelica Josephina da Rocha (Oyebode 2014).
    Candido Da-Rocha, popularly known as Baba Olomi, had his office in Water House on Kakawa Street, opposite Union Bank. He was said to have owned and operated the Iju water works that served the entire Lagos in the 1920s before it was taken over by the Lagos State Government. He was regarded as the richest Nigerian. His descendant was the proprietress of ADRAO School beside NTA at Victoria Island (ADRAO- Abimbola Da-Rocha Afodu Omololu).

    The trained returnee slaves were referred to as the Agudas. They were taught cursive writing and trained in building construction in Brazil before they returned home to Lagos Island.
    Ramos Salus Salvador was a Muslim while Mrs. Maria Salvador was a Catholic. Mrs. Maria Salvador gave birth to a daughter (Nana Aishat Salvador) and a son (Sani Salvador). Ramos Salus Salvador also had children from other wives.
    1- RAMOS SALUS AND MARIA SALVADOR (1st generation to return from Brazil and built first house in Lagos with Brazilian Vernacular Architecture
    2- MRS AISHAT DANMOLA AND SANI (2nd generation from Remus and Maria)
    3- RUFAI, NAFISAT AND SABITU (3rd generation from Aishat)
    4- HAKEEM DANMOLA (4th generation from Rufai)
    5- MUKADAM DANMOLA (5th generation from Hakeem’s youngest brother))

    Figure 1 (from left) – Mr. Mukadam Danmola (5th Generation), Arc Wilson Agbonta,
    Mr. Hakeem Danmola (4th Generation) and Arc David Adio-Moses – 26th March, 2017

    Figure 2 – Art work in Mr. Hakeem Danmola’s house

    Figure 3 – Art work in Mr. Hakeem Danmola’s house



    Figure 4 – The Olaiya House on Bamgboshe Street
    The Federal Government said that those who collaborated to demolish the 190 year- old “Olaiya House” in Lagos, declared as national monument in 1956, would be punished. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this on Sunday when he inspected the site of the demolished building at No 6, Alli and 2 Bamgboshe streets, CMS, Lagos Island. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the minister was accompanied on the inspection by the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, and Director General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Yusuf Abdallah. According to the minister, the building was built by one of the slaves that returned from Brazil. “This building in particular was unique because it chronicled the historical, cultural and social relationship between us and Brazil. It is like a living monument of our slave trade past. It was a monument that exhibited the Brazilian architecture at that time, which is rare to come by anywhere in the world. As far back as 1956, the Federal Government acquired this property as a national monument and it was gazetted. The idea was that the building was so unique and the government would not want the family to change or rebuild it because it is history itself,” he said. He recalled that when government declared the building as national monument, arrangement was made with the family on how to maintain the place and there were several meeting held between the two parties. The minister said that there was no reason, except greed, that could have propelled any developer into demolishing the building. “We cannot equate money with our past history and legacy because a people without history will perish very fast. This building is a remembrance of what our ancestors went through in slavery and how they triumph, came back and they showed that they were well-to-do. It is worth billions of dollars because it symbolized our past. We have the responsibility to preserve our past and culture so that our children unborn will come here and see what they are like. We all go to London and Paris to see their monuments. If those people had destroyed their own culture, architecture and heritage, what then will we be going there to see?,” he queried. Mohammed assured that whoever destroyed the building would be fished out, no matter how long it would take to do so. The minister debunked the claim that the structure was weak, adding that the government would take over the defense of the civil suit filed by the developer.
    Speaking on the issue, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Owoseni, said when the building was demolished, he immediately ordered the Area Commander to look for the developer but they said he was very sick and on admission in the hospital. “When something is gazetted, the gazette becomes an Act and whosoever does a thing contrary to the gazette and its content, it becomes an offence,” he said. He advised that the site be sealed-up to prevent illegal trading on the plot. On the issue of the ‘Angel’ on top of the demolished building allegedly stolen by the family, the commissioner advised the National Museum to write a petition. He said the Police could not take action because the case was already in court. The Angel was said to be an antiquity and by the provision of the law, only the National Museum has the statutory powers to deal with antiquity. Earlier, Mr. Eric Awobuyide, a member of the Olaiya family who briefed the minister on the demolition, said the building had attracted many tourists from different parts of the world. He added that on the fateful day the building was brought down, he was not around.

    Figure 5 – Demolition of Olaiya House
    The Ilojo Bar (also called the “Olaiya House” or “Casa do Fernandez”), is a Brazilian-styled historic building located near Tinubu Square in Lagos Island, Lagos State, Nigeria was built in 1855 and bought by the late Alfred Omolona Olaiya in 1933.
    It was built by Africans who regained their freedom from their “Portuguese masters” in Brazil. Its historical, social and architectural values have been well acclaimed, thus, prompting the Federal Government to give it special protection status as a National Monument through Gazette 25 Vol. 43 of April 5, 1956.
    It was pulled down unexpectedly on September 11, 2016 by a “developer”. The family’s lawyer, Olanrewaju Falola, in a statement said the building developed noticeable cracks on the walls, with its roof falling off. He said the family wrote several letters to the commission, whose duty it is to maintain and preserve artifacts, notifying it of the state of the building, but it was not repaired. The family said it also sought the commission’s approval to renovate the building to forestall any calamity, but got no permission.

    According to Falola, the Lagos State government through its regulatory agencies issued contravention notices on the property, which he said was also brought to commission’s attention, yet it allegedly failed to act. An integrity test, he said, revealed that the building was no longer safe for human habitation. “Thereafter, the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) ordered the family to demolish the distressed Ilojo Bar and further warned that failure to demolish same would amount to negligence on the part of the family and the property will be forfeited to the state government,” the lawyer said. The family, he said, was given a demolition approval, following which it asked LASBCA to bring down the distressed building.
    “We hereby state that the demolition of Ilojo Bar was done with the express order, instruction and approval of the Lagos State Government in the exercise and performance of its statutory duties and for the protection of lives and property,” Falola said. The family wondered why the commission allegedly neglected the edifice for such a considerable length of time that it constituted a threat to lives and property. “Why would the commission have neglected the so called monument to the extent that it became not only a public toilet but also a haven for criminals?,” the family asked. Falola said the Olaiya Family had filed a suit against the commission at the Federal High Court, adding: “We urge the commission to present its case before the honourable court of law.”
    Following the demolition, the NCMM has ordered that the monument be restored to its original form: A statement by the Director General of NCMM, Yusuf Abdallah Usman, read: The National Commission for Museums and Monuments has been maintaining, promoting and preserving the monument with members of the Olaiya Family, Lagos State government and other stake holders both local and international. The threat to this historic building has been unfolding for some time due to rising commercial interest in view of its strategic location. In October, last year, a member of the family wrote to the Commission saying that one of them was trying to engage a private developer to demolish the monument and clear the place for commercial development.
    In response to this, a meeting was called with the family members led by Mr. Daniel Adewale Olaiya on January 19, 2016. The meeting discussed the issues around the monument, including its legal status, how the structure is put to use and the grievances of the family members. It was finally agreed that the statues quo of the monument should remain while they submit their complains through appropriate official channel but nothing was heard from them since then.
    The recent threat to demolish the monument came on July 2, 2016, when a developer in collusion with some members of the family mobilised a bulldozer and some armed men with the intent to demolish the structure. The National Commission for Museums and Monuments got information about the move and quickly mobilised the Lagos museum staff and Lagos State government officials, who accosted the group and frustrated the attempt. In the meantime the attention of law enforcement agencies was drawn.
    On July, this year, the developer again mobilised to demolish the building and this action was again rebuffed this time through the intervention of Hon. Agboola Dabiri Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on the Lagos Central Business District.Following his intervention,a stakeholders’ meeting was summoned at Lagos State secretariat Alausa, Ikeja where Hon.AbikeDabiri-Erewa did everything possible to avert the demolition of the monument.
    Subsequently on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 a stakeholders’meeting was convened by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments at the National Museum, Lagos involving major stakeholders. This include members of the Olaiya family, management staff of National museum, Lagos, representatives of Lagos State Ministry of Tourism and that of the Brazillian Consulate, Benedita Gouveia Simonetti and Adeniran Arimoro.
    This sad event is a critical turning point in the history of heritage management in Nigeria. The shocking way the action was carried out without any shame and embarrassment is a source of serious concern for the National Commission for Museums and Monuments as heritage managers and for all responsible Nigerians who love history and culture. The action is not only criminal, but it has robbed us of an important heritage resource that helps defines us as a people and assist our understanding of our past and our projection of the future.
    The demolition has destroyed a masterpiece of the only surviving Brazilian houses in Lagos with its attractive arches and fine iron works as statue described as being “Gothic in style and balustrade reminiscent of a Venetian palace”. It has done great injustice to the credit of African craftsmanship in architecture which has exerted great influence on Yoruba architecture that is today visible in all parts of Yoruba land.
    As an officially recognized world heritage, the Olaiya House or Ilojo bar united art and museum connoisseurs who honoured its architectural history for many years. After its destruction, Ilojo Bar, the 160-year-old Brazilian quarters that thrived as a national monument for many years, has provoked anger from heritage enthusiasts after bulldozers allegedly brought in by a developer, demolished it on September 11, 2016.

    Figure 6 – The Olaiya House was also known as Ilojo bar
    The demolition of Ilojo Bar has split the Omolona Olaiya family, its owners, with members divided over the demolition. And as the federal government, through the Director- General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Mr. Yusuf Abdallah Usman, threatened it would be prosecuting the developer who pulled down the treasured edifice, some members of the family in support of the demolition and who apparently contracted the developer for the job, retorted through their lawyer, Olanrewaju Falola, that they had already filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos, against the Commission. The family members argued penultimate week that they resorted to pulling down the structure as it terribly decayed and became a haven for criminals, and after the NCMM shunned their appeals to wade in and repair it. As the family, through Falola, argued in a statement, they had observed cracks on the walls of the old building and the roofs were falling off and proceeded to take certain steps to stave off its complete ruination. First, they claimed, they informed the NCMM of the situation, whose responsibility they said it was to maintain the structure. “But it was not repaired,” the statement said. Owing to the deteriorating physical status of Ilojo Bar, the family, the statement said, wrote to former president Goodluck Jonathan on June 8, 2010, asking him to delist it as a national monument. But it didn’t get any response. From here, according to them, they sought the Commission’s approval “to renovate the building to forestall any calamity,” but claimed not to have been given the necessary permission. The statement added that the Lagos State government through its regulatory agencies then came into the picture, issuing contravention notices on the property. The family members said they brought the notices to the attention of the NCMM, which they accused of still failing to act. The statement said an integrity test conducted on the monument revealed “the building was no longer safe for habitation.” The lawyer said: “Thereafter, the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) ordered the family to demolish the distressed Ilojo Bar and further warned that failure to demolish same would amount to negligence on the part of the family and the property will be forfeited to the state government.” The family, he added, was then given a demolition approval, following which it asked LASBCA to bring it down. “The demolition of Ilojo Bar was done with the express order, instruction and approval of the Lagos State government in the exercise and performance of its statutory duties and for the protection of lives and property,” the family said. Constructed in 1855 as a relaxation spot of note, Ilojo Bar weathered many storms to become one of the most sought-after masterpieces on the Lagos Island and, indeed, in Nigeria. It was bought by the late Alfred Omolona Olaiya in 1933.
    But due to its unique architectural design and historical value, the Federal Government acquired and declared it a national monument, though with a caveat that allows the Olaiya family to live in it. The NCMM DG, Usman, at a meeting with journalists and a tour of the site of the demolished building, vowed that whosoever that was responsible for the building demolition would be brought to book. A visibly disturbed Usman said the Commission would, “in line with the powers and responsibility conferred on it by NCMM Act, Cap N19, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004,” ensure that a criminal case was brought against the culprits, as well as ensure the demolishers paid compensation for their action. He lamented that Ilojo Bar had been facing demolition threat for some time due to the rising commercial activities around its location before it was finally demolished.“In October 2015, a member of the family wrote to the Commission informing that one of them was trying to engage a private developer to demolish the monument and clear the place for commercial development. In response to this, a meeting was called with the family members led by Daniel Adewale Olaiya on January 19, 2016.
    “The meeting discussed all the issues around the monument, including its legal status, how the structure would be put to use and the grievances of the family members. It was agreed that the status quo of the monument should be left alone, while the family submit its complaints through appropriate official channel. However, nothing was heard from them since then,” Usman said.
    Usman said the latest threat to demolish the monument came again on July 2, 2016 “when a developer in collusion with some members of the family mobilized a bulldozer and some armed men with the intent to demolish the structure.”
    The Commission, he narrated, got the information about the move and quickly mobilized staff of the Lagos Museum and, in collaboration with Lagos State government, officials accosted the group and frustrated that demolition attempt. “We subsequently, drew the attention of law enforcement agencies. Still in July, the developer again mobilized to demolish the building, an action which was again rebuffed, this time with the intervention of Honourable Agboola Dabiri, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on the Lagos Central Business District. And following his intervention, a stakeholders meeting was summoned at the Lagos State Secretariat Alausa, Ikeja, where he (the Special Adviser) undertook to do everything possible to avert the demolition of the monument,” Usman said. Usman said on Tuesday, August 16, 2016, another stakeholders’ meeting was convened by the Commission with members of the Olaiya family, alongside representatives of the Lagos State Ministry of Arts and Tourism, as well as two representatives of the Brazilian Consulate, Benedita Gouveia Simonetti and Adeniran Arimoro. He said as part of issues discussed at the meeting, it was agreed that all necessary steps must be taken to safeguard the monument from further demolition threat, while involving law enforcement agencies to monitor development at the site of the building. He added that it was also agreed that a signpost notifying members of the public about the status of the building be erected. He added the meeting also agreed to revive an earlier plan to organize a gala night to raise funds for the restoration of the monument. “But to our greatest surprise, on Saturday August 27, 2016, the same developer again mobilized his bulldozer and actually damaged parts of the building.
    A petition was subsequently written and submitted to the Area Commander of the Nigerian Police (Lion Building), requesting the arrest and prosecution of the culprits, but apparently the police did not find the matter serious enough to detain or prosecute them,” Usman said. To him, the destruction was a sad statement on the development of Nigerian historical heritage management. He lamented that the demolition had destroyed a masterpiece of the only surviving Brazilian house in Lagos. “The dastardly act has distorted the eminent position of Lagos in colonial history as the Centre where returnee slaves from Brazil built houses in a similar manner of the new architectural fashion when Lagos was created as a colony, thus impoverishing Lagos of its rich architectural urban history and undermining its acclaimed status as a Centre of excellence,” Usman said.
    The Legacy Group and the Committee on Lagos@50 described the building demolition as “callous.” In a petition tagged, ‘Murder in Broad Daylight’ the Legacy Group supported the call for the prosecution of those involved in the act. It said it has kick-started a campaign condemning the demolition. “This is a fight for the sovereignty of the laws that form the basis of this country called Nigeria. Sunday, September 11, 2016 marked a dirty taint on the history of Lagos and Nigeria as a whole. It was the day ‘developers,’ acting in total disregard for the constitution, tore down a beauty that carried immeasurable value for the life and soul of a people. The building was the epitome of the Lagos Brazilian style of architecture brought in by returnee slaves,” the group stated in the petition signed by its president, Desmond Majekodunmi.
    Daily Trust on Saturday visited the site of the Ilojo Bar met a woman who identified herself as Folashade Awobuyide and claimed to be a great grand-daughter of the owner of the building. Folashade said that not all members of the Omolona Olaiya family were in support of the demolition. She added she was living in the building before its demolition, “but I was not even allowed to remove any of my belongings from the building before the developer came with his bulldozer and armed thugs to demolish it. I had to run for my dear life.” Efforts to reach the developer, who was simply identified as Otunba Arowogbola, were unsuccessful as none of the phone numbers given connected. Although Usman vowed the Commission would reconstruct Ilojo Bar, mourning art and heritage lovers must come to grips with the reality that the iconic edifice is gone forever. For how can its historic architecture be captured in its stark original form?

    An art work recovered from the demolished building

    Ramos Salus Salvador returned to Nigeria in 1865 after being taken to Brazil as a slave. He returned to Nigeria with his white Brazilian wife Mrs. Maria Salvador. He built the first house in Nigeria of Brazilian Vernacular Architecture in Lagos. The building is located at 112 Bamgboshe Street, Lagos Island, Nigeria. The building was constructed with the aid of the skilled returnee slaves known as the Agudas. The building materials for the building construction were brought from Brazil. Notable Nigerians who lived in that house include 1- Bishop Taylor (first Bishop of the Holy Cross Cathedral Catholic Church / the Aguda Church) 2- Mr. Sodique (Oba of Epe lived there from 1954 to 1959), 3- Bishop Adelakun Howels and 4- Mr. Ajayi, the first headmaster of St. Peters Church.
    A second ship while returning the freed slaves from Brazil landed in Sierra Leone now known as Freetown. Most of the slaves later left free town and migrated to Lagos Island. On returning home they were referred to as the Saros, they were equally skilled in cursive writing and building construction. Notable people were 1- Culcrick 2- Cole, Parma. A third ship while returning the freed slaves from Brazil came straight to Lagos and landed at Olowo Gbowo in Lagos Nigeria. This architectural style was spread to other states by the Agudas and Saros.

    Green Architecture basically refers to environmentally friendly buildings that are energy efficient. Green architecture may have many of these characteristics: 1- Ventilation systems designed for efficient heating and cooling. 2- Energy-efficient lighting and appliances. 3- Water-saving plumbing fixtures. 4- Landscapes planned to maximize passive solar energy. 5- Minimal harm to the natural habitat. 6-Alternate power sources such as solar power or wind power. 7-Non-synthetic, non-toxic materials.8- Responsibly-harvested woods and stone. 9- Adaptive reuse of older buildings. 10 – Use of recycled architectural salvage. 11- Efficient use of space. While most green buildings do not have all of these features, the highest goal of green architecture is to be fully sustainable. Green Architecture is also Known As: Sustainable development, eco-design, eco-friendly architecture, earth-friendly architecture, environmental architecture, natural architecture. Green building (also known as green construction or sustainable building) is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Although new technologies are constantly being developed to complement current practices in creating greener structures, the common objective is that green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by: 1- Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources. 2- Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity.3- Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation. Sustainable housing helps to address global pollution and rapidly depleted natural resources. Miyatake (1996) quoted Norway‘s prime minister – ―Sustainability is leaving sufficient resources for future generations to have a quality of life similar to ours‖. Dr. Charles J. Kilbert identified six principles: Minimize resource consumption; maximize resource use; use renewable or recyclable resources; protect the natural environment; create a healthy, nontoxic environment; and pursue quality in creating the built environment.
    Criteria for Green Architecture by The American Institute of Architects:
    Top Ten Measure 1: Sustainable Design Intent & Innovation – Sustainable design is an inherent aspect of design excellence. Projects should express sustainable design concepts and intentions, and take advantage of innovative programming opportunities. Key environmental issues; how and why they became important priorities. Key ecological goals and concepts for your project and how they shaped your thinking (not a list of sustainable design measures). How these goals and concepts were expressed in the design. Sustainable design innovations. How sustainability measures led to a better overall project design. Process of program analysis and any resource efficiencies realized by innovative programming. Efforts to “right size” the project and to reduce unnecessary square footage. Top Ten Measure 2: Regional/Community Design & Connectivity – Sustainable design values the unique cultural and natural character of a given region. How the design relates to the local context and to larger regional issues. How the design promotes regional and community connectivity and sense of place, public space and community interaction. Transportation policies, incentives, and other efforts to provide for those using transportation alternatives.Site selection criteria to reduce automobile use.How mandated parking was reduced. Top Ten Measure 3: Land Use & Site Ecology – Sustainable design protects and benefits ecosystems, watersheds, and wildlife habitat in the presence of human development. How the development of the project’s site responds to its ecological context, including the watershed, and air and water quality at different scales from local to regional level. How the development of the immediate site and its buildings contribute to environmental quality. How the design accommodates wildlife habitat preservation and creation. How the landscape design protects or creates on-site ecosystems. How the design responds to local development density (rural to urban) or conditions (brownfield to greenfield). Top Ten Measure 4: Bioclimatic Design – Sustainable design conserves resources and maximizes comfort through design adaptations to site-specific and regional climate conditions. Describe how the building responds to local climate, sun path, prevailing breezes, and seasonal and daily cycles through passive design strategies. Site and climatic analysis.Description of internal versus external building loads. Design strategies that reduce or eliminate the need for non-renewable energy resources. How these strategies specifically shaped the building plan, section, and massing.How these strategies specifically affected placement, orientation, and shading of the building. Top Ten Measure 5: Light & Air. Sustainable design creates comfortable interior environments that provide daylight, views, and fresh air. Design strategies for day-lighting, task lighting, ventilation, indoor air quality, views, and personal control systems. How the project’s design enhances connections between indoors and outdoors. Design team approach to integration of natural systems and appropriate technology. Top Ten Measure 6: Water Cycle – Sustainable design conserves water and protects and improves water quality. How building and site design strategies manage site water and drainage, and capitalize on renewable sources (such as precipitation) on the immediate site. Water-conserving landscape and building design strategies. Reuse strategies for water including use of rainwater, graywater, and wastewater. Top Ten Measure 7: Energy Flows & Energy Future – Sustainable design conserves energy and resources and reduces the carbon footprint while improving building performance and comfort. Sustainable design anticipates future energy sources and needs. How the building design reduces energy loads for heating, cooling, lighting, and water heating. How the design and integration of building systems contributes to energy conservation and reduced use of fossil fuels, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution, and improves building performance and comfort. Techniques for systems integration, use of controls and technologies, efficient lighting strategies. Use of on-site renewable and alternative energy systems. Anticipation of future and carbon neutral fuel sources. Strategies to reduce peak electrical demand. How the building or parts of the building provide “passive survivability” the ability to function in the event of power outages or interruptions in fuel supply. Top Ten Measure 8: Materials & Construction – Sustainable design includes the informed selection of materials and products to reduce product-cycle environmental impacts, improve performance, and optimize occupant health and comfort. Efforts to reduce the amount of material used on the project. Materials selection criteria, considerations, and constraints, such as optimizing health, durability, maintenance, and energy use, and/or reducing the impacts of extraction, manufacturing, and transportation. How the building enclosure will perform in relationship to air, moisture, water and thermal characteristics. Consideration given to impacts on the environment over the full life cycle and the results of life cycle assessment if available Description of any “green lease” program. Construction waste reduction plans and any strategies to promote recycling during occupancy. Top Ten Measure 9: Long Life, Loose Fit – Sustainable design seeks to enhance and increase ecological, social, and economic values over time. How the project was designed to promote long-term flexibility and adaptability. Anticipated service life of the project, and description of any components designed for disassembly. Materials, systems, and design solutions developed to enhance versatility, durability, and adaptive reuse potential. Top Ten Measure 10: Collective Wisdom & Feedback Loops – Sustainable design strategies and best practices evolve over time through documented performance and shared knowledge of lessons learned. How you modeled and evaluated the design during the programming and design phases. How you evaluated the performance of the built results. Collaborative efforts between the design team, consultants, client, and community. How the process enhanced the performance and success of the building. Lessons learned during the design, construction, and occupation of the building. How these lessons would change your approach to this project if starting over, or to future projects Commissioning and any on-going monitoring of building performance and occupant satisfaction.

    1. Dear David
      Thank you for sending me a copy of your dissertation. It’s very impressive. I totally agree with your concern for these magnificent buildings which are priceless.
      I have nothing but admiration for your work.
      Best wishes,

    2. @David, This is a good piece of original work but I’m really baffled as to why would you want to post it online.

  14. Dear Sir,

    I am Yemi Balogun, a doctoral student at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. I am impressed by your description of Lagos in the colonial period. I came across this site as I seek to find answer to a question that bother on my studies. I am currently researching on young Muslims in Yorubaland. As a background to my study, I am interested in several questions dealing with the history of Islam in Lagos. I am aware that Brazilian families who returned to Lagos had many Muslims. But, I have been worried about an information I got from my recent field-work to Nigeria, concerning the view of these Muslims on western education. The information is that educated Muslims, mostly Brazilians encouraged other Yoruba Muslims to send their children to school (because they have stayed away for fear of being converted to Christianity?). The other information is that these educated Muslims convinced other Muslims that education is useful to helping them understand Islam better. I am mostly interested in this second point,because I do not seem to understand how they link Western education to correct Islamic practice. I will be glad if you have any information or document concerning this issue.
    Any other information that you can give me on ‘young Muslims’ in the colonial period will be highly appreciated, Sir.

    Thank you, Sir
    With regards

    1. Dear Yemi sadly I’m not a historian of any kind. I suggest that you approach the academic historian at the Department of African Studies and Archaeology in Birmingham many of whom are experts on Islam and Christianity in Nigeria. Have a look at the website and you ought to be able to identify the relevant individuals.

  15. This is a great article and I enjoyed reading it very much! I am Tayo Bastos and like many others have stumbled on your blog whilst doing some research into my family. We come from Brazilian quarters in Lagos Island and my father recalls there used to be a Bastos Lane somewhere there. Its a very small family, not known to many even within the Lagos Island community. I know its a bit of a long shot but I believe its worth asking if you ( or anyone reading the comments) know anything about us. My great-grandfather was Paul Domingo Bastos and was a mechanic in the pre-independence police force and he might have been muslim. Three generations after him attended St Gregory’s College Obalende and that’s as much as I’ve got.

    1. Tayo thanks for your comments. I’m afraid I don’t have any information on Bastos family. I hope you find out more about your family in the near future. Best wishes, Femi

  16. Hello Sir,

    I stumbled on your piece while trying to know more about my heritage. I’d be glad if you can share anything you know about the Serrano family with me(I’m completely clueless).
    Lovely write sir.

    Thank you in anticipation of your help.

  17. Dear sir,

    I am Oluyomi Balthazar, an engineer living in Finland. I have been making some research into my family history and I happen to stumble upon your blog. My great great-grand father was Balthazar dos reis, a cabinet maker who built his house on Aroloya street in Lagos Island. I also found out he was a muslim who carved the ornate woodwork of the high altar, throne and pulpit of the Holy Cross Cathedral on Catholic Mission Street and also helped in building the old Jamiu central Mosque. But this is all i’ve got. I just wanted to ask if you by any chance have any information about the Balthazars. Thank you.

  18. Dear Femi,
    I was wondering were you got your information from my father’s parents past away and I’m trying to find research on my family tree. My last name is Pereira and my family is directly from lagos Island but as a young person I feel like I’m missing a big part of my culture. If you don’t mind sending me your soures, that would be greatly appericated. My email is:

    1. Tolu
      Thanks for your message.
      Sadly I’m not a historian and haven’t studied this subject in depth.
      I don’t know of any text specifically dealing with Afro Brazilians.
      Best wishes,

  19. Dear Sir,
    I join other commentators in applauding your wonderful write-up and literal legacy which many yet unborn will equally benefit from, especially as we live in a country where record-keeping and preservation is a mirage.
    Am currently working on a book which is essentially on Commercial Lagos from the perspective of one of the prominent Lagos Island family; The LAYENIS. I will like to email you if I have your permission so that I can further benefit from your rich perspective on the subject sir.

    Warm Regards

  20. Dear Sir,

    I want to thank you for throwing more light and educating me further about the Afro-brazilian family settlers and the Saro-Agudas on the Lagos Island. You also wrote in depth about your great grandfather. My maternal grandfather was from the Saro-Aguda settlers. I grew up on Kakawa street at the Emilius family house ,just a stone throw from your Da-Rocha Afodu family house(water house).I attended St Gregory’s college with a member of the Da-Rocha Afodu family,who currently resides in UK. I never knew that your great grandfather once owned the Iju water works.All I knew was that,he was the wealthiest water merchant on the Island at that time.I remember from my childhood days, that, there were times we got water free from the waterhouse, during when water pipes went dry on the Island in the seventies.
    Your family house attracted, lots of varieties of cultural entertainers and Lagos Island masquerades, this enabled we your neighbors to appreciate the rich culture of Lagos Island ,without leaving our homes.
    Kudos, for your impressive insight on the early settlers and inhabitants of Lagos Island.



  21. Good day sir, I am impressed to have good knowledge of my origin and environmen on your platformt. i will like to know how Pacheco Pedro my family name in Lagos Island came to be in yoruba indigenes. i learnt this name belong to royal houses in Portugal. my father once told me that there are five Pedros family in Lagos who are not of Yoruba origin. he claimed we are not Brazillian that we are Lagosian descendant of Ado and Akinshemoyin lineage maternally. can you please give me more understanding on this issue

    1. Hello Seyi, my family is descendant from Pacheco Pedro who lived at Bamgbose street in Popo Aguda Lagos Island. As far as I was told he was Muslim and apparently was given the ‘Balogun’ title of a mosque which our faction adopted as a family name. I stumbled on your comment and wondered if we are perhaps referring to the same person.

  22. Dear Mr. Femi,

    Thank you for this article, you have solved over 3 decades of my heritage mystery. I know i am from the Brazilian quarters(Popo Aguda),my surname is Souza and Catholic but i didn’t have this much info till i read this article while looking for more info on google. Thanks a lot.

    Even though, while going through your replies, I noticed you said you are not a historian, but Kindly shed more light if you have more information that can help me.

  23. Dear Mr. Femi,

    Thank you for this article, you have solved over 3 decades of my heritage mystery. I know i am from the Brazilian quarters(Popo Aguda),my surname is Souza and Catholic but i didn’t have this much info till i read this article while looking for more info on google. Thanks a lot.

    Even though, while going through your replies, I noticed you said you are not a historian, but Kindly shed more light if you have more information that can help me.

    1. Bernadette
      Books to consult
      Mann’s Marrying well
      Mann’s Slavery and the birth of an African city
      Echeruo’s Victorian Lagos
      Best wishes,

    2. Hi Bernadette…you have many of your distant distant cousins that go to Holy Cross Cathedral and St Michaels Lafiaji….They can fill in the spaces if you seek them out.

  24. Thank you for this article. Permit to make some additions and some slight corrections on this discussion. The Ekiti Parapo wars against Ibadan were fought in the late 1870s and ended in 1893 by which slavery has ended in Brazil. There were earlier wars from the 1700s and early part of the 1800s which provided the slaves to North America and South America. The slaves of Yoruba origin(from Nigeria at least) who were called Nagos were those transported to Brazil before Lagos became a colony in 1861.
    Also I read someone trying to imply that Acaraje is the source of the Akara that we eat in Yoruba land. The fact is that the Acaraje is from Akara brought by Yoruba slaves just as they introduced their different Orisas into the cultural tapestry of present day Brazil.
    On reasons why lots of the Brazilian returnees to Lagos were muslims, this wikipedia article (ê_revolt)would explain the context for this. It is on the Male Revolt of 1835 in Bahia by slaves who were mostly of Yoruba origin. These people were muslims before being captured as slaves. They continued to practice Islam while in captivity and after emancipation.
    It’s also worthy of note that muslims are a significant number among the Afro Brazillians in Benin Republic, where lots of native Yorubas were sent to Brazil by the kings of the defunct Dahomey Kingdom during the slave trade.

    1. Quadri
      Thank you for your informative contribution. Yes I do agree that 200 years of the Yoruba wars & especially the later Ekiti-Parapo wars were important in driving the enslavement of the Yoruba. The recency of the Yoruba arrival in Brazil probably contributed to the strong influence of Yoruba culture in contemporary Brazil.

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