Seems hard to believe but yes, it’s true. There are Ghanaians of Brazilian descent. These Ghanaians of Brazilian descent are the Taboms who are also known as the Agudas. Strap your belt back, sit back and prepare for a succinct history lesson.
Now, these Afro-Brazilian folk are the descendants of slave returnees who settled in the South of Ghana and coexisted with the Gas. They arrived in Jamestown, Accra sometime the mid 19th century. It is not entirely certain seeing us they came in large but splintered groups but the major group is documented to have arrived on the shores of Ghana in 1836. This coincidentally aligns with the Malê Revolt of 1835 in Bahia.
Most of the Afro-Brazilians who faced persecution in Brazil made the exodus from South America to Ghana, Benin and Togo. It is said that they were originally descended from the Yorubas in Nigeria and thus they maintained a sentimental kinship with West Africa. When they arrived they could only speak only Portuguese, and would use the phrase “Tá bom” which means “Okay”. The Ga-Adangbe people who primarily inhabited the Jamestown started to call them the Tabom and the name stuck.
The leader of the major group of Taboms to anchor at Jamestown was called Nii Aruna Nelson (Nii Azumah Nelson), which is a Ga name.
His eldest son, Nii Alasha, succeeded him and grew to become a close friend to the Ga King Nii Tackie Tawiah. Together, they helped in the development of the whole community in commerce. The Taboms brought with them new skills and vocations and did not hesitate to share. Amongst them was the art of sewing, new agricultural techniques in planting and irrigation and smithing. The very first house they built when they first arrived in Ghana can still be found in Jamestown known as Brazil House. For the longest them the Gas practiced weaving techniques which was very time-consuming. The Tabom’s arrival changed that.
Tailoring was the main occupation the Tabom brought along with them. They opened the first tailoring shop in Ghana. First Scissors House, it was called. Their threading and workmanship was so impressive that they were soon the exclusive choice for making the Gold Coast army’s uniforms.
Eventually, the Tabom inter-married with the Ga indigenes. Trading not only their skills but also their names. When you hear names such Azumah, De Souza, Amorin, Peregrine, Wellington, Benson, Perreira, Nelson, Da Costa, Santos, Nunoo, Da Rocha and Morton, then you are being acquainted with a descendant of the Taboms. The areas of Asylum Down and Adabraka is where most of the Tabom settled upon their arrival and even now vestiges of their presence remain in the form of mango and coconut trees which were crops they brought with them from Brazil.
Today, the Tabom are integrated into the Gas but their descendants still regard their Brazilian history. Currently, Brazil House in Jamestown is home to a comprehensive library which chronicles the history and culture of the Taboms from Brazil down to their arrival and the years that came after.