Text for the Daily Graphic, Accra, Ghana, 09 Apr 2005
The History of the Brazil House
The History of the Brazil House is closely related to the History of the Tabom People, who returned to Ghana from Brazil in 1836. It is maybe the biggest material symbol of the importance of the Tabom People and a symbol of their History in Ghana. This becomes very clear when we look at its privileged location, in the Brazil Lane in Old Accra, facing the sea, straight in front of the old port, for a long time the gate from and to the world.
A chat with Mr. W. L. Lutterodt, a Tabom Senior and the accredited head of the Mamah Nassu family with authority to represent the family in all matters pertaining to Brazil House, reveals a lot of the History of the Brazil House.
When Mamah Nassu arrived together with six other families in 1836 from Brazil, he was the flag bearer of the clan. He bought that land in the Brazil Lane and built a house there for his family. He was married to Naa Supiana and had a daughter called Naa Chercher, who later married a royal from the Nii Oto Din family of Otublohum. This marriage is a clear sign that the Tabom People were welcomed and accepted within the Ga State. Naa Chercher had four children: Okanta Acquah, Kofi Acquah, Florence Acquah and Mary Acquah. Her son Kofi Acquah became a professional cook. He went to Warri in Nigeria and worked there for some years. On his return to the Gold Coast he demolished the old family house built by Nii Mama Nassu and replaced it by the present two storey house as a family house for himself and his sisters.
For a considerable number of years the late Kofi Acquah leased the house to various European businessmen and companies. One of these companies built a warehouse on the land, which they used for their business.
From the year 1942 however the house was no longer rented out and the family went to live there. The warehouse was converted into dwellings and let out to outsiders. A few surviving members who are direct descendants of Kofi Acquah are also living in the house.
Since the Brazil House is in state of disrepair, the Brazilian Government had together with UNESCO and the Tabom People the idea to rehabilitate it. Apart from these institutions, the Government of Ghana is also supporting the project within the so called “Old Accra Integrated Urban Development and Conservation Framework”.
The Brazil House will serve as a cultural space where Brazil and the Brazilian community in Ghana will be able to interact with the Tabom People and the general public, and it will serve as the Official Hall of the Tabom Mantse. Most of the people currently living on the premises will remain on the site and will see their dwellings refurbished in the context of the project.
The Tabom Mantse’s Official Hall will highlight the Brazilian roots of the Tabom People by establishing a documentation centre and an exhibition space where the Tabons will have a chance to learn more about their History and its linkages to Brazil.
It is interesting to note that the rehabilitation of Brazil House deals with an interesting aspect of the Slave Route Project: The return of descendants of former slaves from Brazil to the continent of their ancestors.
The announcement made yesterday by Mr. Lula da Silva, President of the Federative Repubic of Brazil, donating a considerable amount of money to the Tabom foundation for the rehabilitation of the Brazil House was a great step by Brazil in supporting the Tabom People in its efforts to have a cultural centre that shows their History. On the other hand, very good news came from the private sector for the Tabom People: Coral Paints (M&K Ghana) released the information today that they will also donate money for the named foundation, completing the needed funds for the rehabilitation project to become a reality.
Source: some of the information used here are in the brochure “Brazil House Rehabilitation Project”
Marco Aurelio Schaumloeffel
Brazilian Lecturer in Ghana
Attached: picture of the Brazil House in the Brazil Lane in James Town