Lagos' Afro-Brazilian architecture faces down the bulldozers
The slave route out of Badagry near Lagos, Nigeria has a sign that reads "The point of no return." It's a disturbing plaque; a cruel legacy of Nigeria's past and a reminder of the treacherous journey -- and lives -- thousands were led on into slavery.
While many Nigerians forced into that journey never made it back, there were a number who did. Saros -- freed slaves from countries including Brazil -- began to return to their home country in the early 19th century. The Brazilian returnees, often known as "agudas," brought back aspects of their culture: the flare, the tastes, the Catholic religion, as well as familiar Latin names. Don't be surprised to find a Da Souza, Andre and Valentine in Campos, Lagos' Brazilian quarter.
This rich Brazilian heritage is kept alive by the descendants of returnees. Afro-Brazilians celebrate their ancestors in song and dance at the Fanti Carnival -- reminiscent of Rio de Janeiro, much smaller in size, but huge in spirit.
Every year the Fanti Carnival bedecks Lagos with Latin American color and rhythm. But the heritage of Lagos' Afro-Brazilian culture is under threat.
Lagos' crumbling Brazilian buildings
On the frontlines is architecture.
Constructed of brick, typically buildings have arches on the doors and windows, and feature wooden shutters. Amid the urban sprawl they stand out, even in their dilapidated state. Walking through the Campos District, much of it is crumbling or gone.
Many buildings have been replaced as the quarter has transformed into a commercial center. Iconic Afro-Brazilian structures dating as far back as the 19th century have vanished. The demands of a 21 million-person megacity have taken over.
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