How well do you know Ghana’s oldest Diasporan, the Tabom people? Diaspora is the dispersion of a population or a community of individuals living outside their homeland who identify themselves with the state or people of that homeland. Research estimates that about ten thousand slaves returned to Africa around the 19th century (Schaumloeffel, Marco 226). The Tabom people are the Afro-Brazilian descendants in West Africa of which most of them have scattered through Ghana, Benin, Togo and Nigeria. The Tabom people were deported after the Male Revolt in 1835 which many Muslim communities organised.
It has not been established till date whether the Tabom people purchased their freedom and decided to return to Africa or they resided in Brazil as free workers. They had the name Tabom when they came to Ghana as a form of refuge to rejection. According to Akilt Galeta, “the returnees acquired the name Tabom from a local adaptation of the Portuguese greeting “es ta bom” which means it is well”(Galeta, Alkilt).
The leader of the Tabom people at the time of their arrival was Nii Azumah Nelson. Today, the Taboms live in Jamestown where they built the first house they lived in upon arrival in Ghana. This house is known as the Brazil house.
At present, the Tabom king is Nii Azumah V. Some of the prominent Taboms in Ghana include Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, world champion Prof. Azumah Nelson, Dan Morton and Ivonne Nelson. The Tabom people of Ghana speak Ewe, Ga, Dangme or Fante. Other names common to the Tabom people are de Souza, Wellington, Benson, Palmeres, Olympio and Kotey. The supporting of the Tabom people of Ghana will contribute immensely to the economy. In spite of the Tabom community receiving low support, they have used their agricultural skills, carpentry, blacksmithing, tailoring among others to increase productivity in Ghana.
In the Tabom community, everyone participates in all occasions with much passion which is one of the oral history they transferred from Brazil. The Tabom people have acquired only two benefactors who support the community. They are Nii Tackie Kome I, the supreme chief of the Ga Kingdom and Nii Ankrah. In recent times however, the Tabom community receive support from people who identify themselves with the community. Notwithstanding their contributions to the economy of Ghana, the Tabom community of Ghana recently have not been effective due to lack of support.
What hinders the effective performance of the Tabom people of Ghana? An interview with Mrs. Nina Chacu, Ashesi University head librarian, Nii Louis Nelson, an Ashesi College student with Tabom identity who hails from Jamestown and other people in the discourse community shared their opinions concerning the problems. Financial constraint is critical to the challenges of the Tabom people in Ghana. Tabom communities in Ghana are mainly funded by Nii Ankrah and Nii Tackie Kome. Tabom people are now seeking closer ties with Brazil to start business and periodic cultural get-together in both countries.
The plan of getting connected to Brazil made Chief Azumah appeal for funds to enable them visit Brazil but to no avail. Tabom communities also lack finances in undertaking significant projects. According to Chief Azumah “the problem is we lack funds to visit Brazil to talk to our brethren to return and we have been agitating for the embassy to at least have a gathering with our brethren there”. The African Diaspora tend to extend beyond the New World. This is why there have been series of multiple reverse migration to and from the New World to Africa.
Hence, the Tabom people’s plan to visit Brazil is important for the survival of their history in Ghana and the African Diaspora. It is regrettable that the issue of money have crippled their efforts to visit Brazil and also engage in other productive projects. According to Nii Louis Nelson “financial problem impedes the Tabom people from improving upon their productive activities. ”(Nelson, Louis). Poverty cannot be excluded from the challenges of the Tabom people. Financial constraint which does not go a long way to enhance the development of Tabom communities in Ghana have led to the poor state of their societies.
For instance, the First Scissors House, which is important to the History of the Tabom people, got burnt on October 19th 2007. ( History of the First Scissors House, 2004) which rendered most people of Tabom homeless. The Tabom community have not yet received the needed support to raise the house back to resume vibrant sewing activities so as to preserve it as an important element for their history. Tabom people transferred rich skills to Ghana but lack of support have made their community to be characterized with street children, teenage pregnancy, child labour, among many others.
Standard of living of the Tabom people, especially in Jamestown, is poor. The poor nature of their communities has lead to poor sanitation and other social vices. Akilt Galeta stressed “the poverty of the Tabom people made Nii Azumah V to appeal to President Lula to support the reduction of poverty among the Tabom people. ”(Galeta, Akilt). Nii Louis added “poverty among the Tabom people obstructs the meaningful contributions of the Tabom people to the economy. ” (Nelson, Louis). Lack of Brazilian Cultural manifestations of significance is a relevant issue that needs to be addressed.
Although it is common today to find Tabom people in Ghana still following the eating habits common to West Africa and Brazil, they have completely lost traces of their Portuguese language which was observed a century ago. When the Tabom people came to Ghana, around the 1961, there were few cultural traces of Brazil origin. Most of them greeted in Portuguese language around the Tabom community, there were communications in Portuguese language. But today, those expressions in Portuguese language is not easily seen because of their association to the Ga people for several years.
Today the Tabom people are completely integrated in everyday life of Ghana. In one sense this integration is relevant in promoting their African heritage by sharing the language of their roots. However, Portuguese language is very significant to the Tabom people as it identifies them with the Brazilian community. The Tabom people losing traces of their Portuguese language tend to affect the country’s tourism and their connection with Brasil.
According to Nina Chacu “Portuguse language of the Tabom people is an important cultural manifestation of Brazil but today, the Tabom people have become accustomed to local customs which declines tourism. (Chacu, Nina) Furthermore, motivation is of great concern. Motivation inspires to achieve a particular purpose. In Ghana, the focus of investors and other noble organisations has been to other industries in Ghana, mostly in the areas of education, sports, mining and so on. Tabom community in Ghana have not been challenged to increase production. Support for the Tabom people is mainly from their benefactors.
The Tabom people mainly engage in agriculture, which is the backbone of Ghana’s economy. The Tabom people have skills such as rrigation techniques, carpentry, architecture and so on which they transferred from Brazil to help improve the quality of life in Ghana but lack of driving forces to enable them achieve their goals is a major factor. This lack of motivation has undermined their efforts to contribute immensely to the economy. Nii Louis Nelson stressed “no one has caused the Tabom people to feel active interest in their economic activities. ”(Nelson, Louis). However, the Tabom people have a lot to contribute to Ghana if given the needed support.
Preservation of culture is a significant way the Tabom people contribute to the economy. Culture is the way of life of the people and as such, the Tabom people have their own way of life. For instance, they have particular eating habits common to Brazil. Among these are akara (beans) and farofa (gari). They have a particular dance similar to Yoruba. The Tabom people have a rich cultural heritage and this rich cultural heritage helps to bring its citizens together. These citizens help them to initiate projects for the community and invest in other areas of the economy.
The cultural heritage also strengthens all to play their roles as good citizens. This also helps the youth to live morally acceptable lives worthy of emulation. Culture tends to be valued in the Ghanaian society and there is the need to preserve it to pass it on to the younger generations. According to Marco Schaumloeffel, a Brazil lecturer in Ghana, “every culture is unique and the culture of the Tabom people helps in improving the socio-economic growth of the economy. ” (Schaumloeffel, Marco 205). In addition to this, growth of Tourism is enhanced because of the presence of the Tabom people.
The culture of the Tabom people makes them different from others in Ghana. The Brazilian-Ghanaian community of the Tabom is a living example of the proud brotherhood between Brazilians and Africans. People from different countries all over the world travel to Ghana to interact with the Tabom people and learn their culture. In 2004, Ambassador Pedro Motta Pinto Coelho, Head of the African Department in the Ministry of External Relations from Brazil on a working visit to Ghana, paid a courtesy call to the Tabom community due to its relations with Brazil.
Also in April 2005, the President of Brazil, His Excellency Luis Inacio Lula da Silva made contact with the Tabom people and even today, it is alive in the memory of the Tabom and until now, this serves as a high point of their relations to the community they originated after they were used as slave labour force. The visit of the Brazilian President was telecasted on various major television stations across the world and front pages in newspapers of Brazil. This visit of the Brazilian President sold Tabom as a community in Ghana to the outside world.
Until now, several nobles, ambassadors and citizens of other nations travel all the way to the community to conduct research and learn various skills from the Tabom people. George M. Bob-Milliar, stressed that “the Tabom and Fiankra experience is a symbolic identity resource that boosts tourism” (Bob-Milliar, George). Moreover, the country earns a lot of foreign exchange due to the present Tabom people. The Tabom people in Ghana are the oldest returnees to Ghana. This makes them important in the Ghanaian society. Most foreigners travel to Ghana to interact with the Tabom people and learn their historical culture.
This helps to share creative ideas which promotes cooperation with other citizens outside Ghana. The Tabom people today make their own carved products, architectural designs and beautiful traditional clothes. Foreigners who visit the Tabom community at most times engage in buying these products. Through trade and the unique culture of the Tabom people, several foreign currencies are brought into the country. This makes it easier for people to convert Ghanaian currencies into other currencies they need to undertake their projects and other business transactions.
According to Stephen J. Salm, Toyin Falola, “culture advertises and campaigns for tourism offering a less destructive alternative for earning foreign exchange. ”(Falola, Stephen). Another way Tabom people contribute to the economy is employment. In Ghana, unemployment is a great challenge to the government. The Tabom people in their own efficient skills help to create jobs to people in all levels for both educated and uneducated. The Tabom people in Ghana today are described as Brazilian entrepreneurs”. Most Tabom people are prominent in Ga society due to their various skills.
When the Tabom people arrived in Ghana, they brought their efficient skills they learnt in the other side of the Atlantic: cultivation of mangoes, cassava, and beans, irrigation skills, knowledge of tailoring and so on. The economy of Ghana is mainly supported by agriculture. The effective and effectual skills in Ghana have led to them to the cultivation of many food stuffs, fruits and cash crop in Ghana. These works of the Tabom people have led them to earning a living which have reduced unemployment and further helped to reduce social vices among the youth.
Kwame Essien pointed out that “the Brazilian group in Ghana have masterfully unique skills they conveyed to Ghana which has hiked employment in the economy” (Essein Kwame). Also, the Tabom community helps in the improvement of Ghanaian sports. Sports tend to play an important role of the economic development of Ghana. Recently, the government of Ghana have received much revenue through sports. Today, the Tabom community can boast of several personalities that have excelled in sports. An example is Professor Azumah Nelson, who is considered as the greatest African World champion and the African boxer of history.
Also, Kasula da Costa, was the first Tabom player to be invited to play in the national soccer team in 1990. Today, Tabom people have soccer academies and sports complex in which they train the youth to contribute their quota to the country. The sporting environment of the Tabom people helps to build youth patriotism and passion. Through sports, the youth build their confidence in diverse sphere of lives. Through sports the Tabom people are able to train the youth to love and cherish their country.
This has helped the youth of the Tabom community to be fit and workaholics. According to Marco Schaumloeffel, “the sporting aptitudes of the Tabom community are magnificent and today the community can boast of its prominent legends has produced in the country. ” (Schaumloeffel, Marco 96). Due to the complete integration of the Tabom people to the country today, it is possible to find descendants of Afro-Brazilian all over Ghana. In Ghana recently, there are families forming small Tabom communities in areas of Winneba, Koforidua, Cape Coast, Ada, Aburi and Nsawam.
If the Tabom people can contribute immensely to the development of Ghana, then support for the community should be considered. Providing agricultural equipments and provision of education for farmers and fishermen on recent technology in farming and fishing on recent technology are important way to improve the Tabom community. The Tabom community have farms of cassava, beans, pineapple, bananas, maize, cashew, pepper, mango, medicinal herbs, Bahia coconut and millet. Providing farmers and fishermen with tools for their work will go a long way to increase harvest.
Thus support will also improve farmers and fishermen skills and provide them with the confidence they need to increase the production of food. Machine perform faster than manpower and efficient tools increase output faster than manpower. This will further create more revenue which opens up avenues for employment. According to Joseph Kwesi Boamah “the use of efficient agricultural tools and farming education methods promotes wealth creation, increases productivity, employment opportunities as well as the elimination of child labour in agriculture. (Boamah, Joseph). Also, sponsorship is a major way to support the Tabom community in Ghana.
In Ghana, support has been directed to other sectors to the neglect of Ghana’s oldest Diasporan. Sponsorship for the Tabom people will not only encourage them to have high interest in what they do but also make them innovative and ingenious. Financing the projects of the Tabom people is a way of sponsorship. Chief Azumah appealed for funds to enable the Tabom people visit Brazil to talk to their brethren to return home but have still not received the needed support.
The First Scissors House for instance is not in its right state currently although most of them still practice tailoring in the First Scissors House. Providing funds to restore the house helps the Tabom people to remember when they returned as descendants of former slaves from Brazil to Ghana. This will also go a long way to enable the Tabom to increase production thereby increasing production of the country. According to David Osafo, “the African Diaspora have received sponsorship from noble sponsors which have maotivatedc them to pursue greater needs. ”(Osafo, David).
Tabom community has a lot to contribute to the economy and should be supported. Should we sit down unconcerned and view Ghana’s oldest Diaspora with so much rich cultural heritage fade away? The African Diaspora tends to extend beyond the New World and globalization has enhanced the role of the Diaspora. Hence the Tabom community history tends to be important in the Ghanaian setting. It seems more reasonable for the Government, Philanthropists, Non-Governmental Organisations and other noble institutions to take pragmatic steps to support the Tabom people.
Comments: On the whole it is a good essay. It discusses the details of the Tabom people and in what ways they support the economy. If there is a way of getting data on how much they contribute to tourism, that will be a plus. Also consider the wider picture where support for the Tabom people will encourage trade ties between Ghana and Brasil, especially since Brasil is a growing economy now and how we can use that link to develop our agricultural sector. Brasil is a power in agriculture.