Quilombola Territory in Brazil Has Been Declared a Yoruba Ethnic Territory

On March 19, 2023, His Majesty Oba Adeyeye Babatunde Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II CFR (the Ooni of Ifé), the world’s most respected monarch and protector of Yoruba culture and heritage, declared Quilombola a Yoruba realm. He presented the title at a ceremony in Brazil’s Quilombola district, the first outside of Africa to obtain a certificate of Yoruba heritage.

The traditional monarch and his entourage landed in Bahia, Brazil, amid raucous chanting from residents who have a direct familial relationship to Africa through the Brazilian slavery regime, which spanned many decades and was abolished in 1888.

The award is part of the Yoruba Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to bridge the cultural divide between the Yoruba race and the rest of the globe. The event, which represented a watershed moment in the history of African descendants in Brazil, aroused joy among the Quilombola territory’s communities. They celebrated the historic occasion, which would help to preserve Yoruba history, culture, and language throughout the land.

“The Quilombola was recognized for having received and welcomed Yoruba people, who were enslaved and forcibly removed from their base in Nigeria during the era of the slave trade in Africa, the recognition of Quilombola as Yoruba territory is another step in the fight for respect for African history,” The Guardian reported.

The Ooni of Ifé stated in his address that the territory’s rich history dates back to time, and that the recent recognition as Yoruba ethnic territory will not only preserve the region’s culture and history, but will also help it grow abundantly, give African Brazilians a sense of belonging, and foster the development of the communities in all spheres of life.

“This event is a very big one for me because I am passionate about preserving the Yorubas’ culture and its deep-rooted values. This event will lay precedence for the Yoruba language and its culture to be more acceptable globally. You can see the excitement on their faces. Their Babalawo’s are well grounded in the teachings of Ifa and can render the Odu-Ifa and its panegyrics like our Ifa Priest do in Nigeria. They hold our gods like Sango, Ogun, Yemoja, and Obatala in high esteem,” said Ooni of Ifé.

“They have designated days to celebrate these gods with colorful displays infused with plenty aesthetics. They also speak Yoruba which is one thing I love about them. It’s very essential to harmonize them and also show solidarity that we are part of them and they are part of us. This will foster good bilateral trade between Brazil and Nigeria and it will also put the Yoruba culture at an advantage.”

The Quilombolas are Afro-Brazilians who live in the Quilombo villages, which were founded by descendants of African slaves who escaped from slave plantations during the slavery era.

As of 2016, over 294 villages or communities had petitioned for Quilombola status. Quilmbola settlements account for 2.5% of the Brazilian population, according to The Wilson Center and Brazil Institute. Most are family farmers that rely on natural resources from their lands to survive.

The vast majority of them reside in rural areas on jointly owned land. The groups that govern the communities serve as decision-making bodies. 45.8% of the population lives in extreme poverty. In terms of access to services and education, the Quilombola communities rank below the national average.

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