During the late nineteenth century, primarily between the 1840s and 1860s, a significant repatriation movement to Africa took place among ex-slaves from the Latin American countries of Cuba and Brazil. Since most of these repatriates were of Yoruba descent, they chose to resettle in Yoruba-populated areas along the West African coast. Some of these Cuban and Brazilian repatriates resettled in Ouidah and Porto Novo in the present-day country of Republic of Benin. However, many of the returnees established themselves in West Africa’s largest port city of Lagos in what is now known as Nigeria.
It was also during the nineteenth century that British colonialists began to aggressively launch their quest for total domination and annexation of Yorubaland and the hinterland areas of “Nigeria”. In order to facilitate this agenda, the British used the Cuban and Brazilian repatriates as mediators between themselves and the local Yoruba population. Consequently, in order to secure the repatriates’ cooperation, the British elevated the Cuban and Brazilian returnees to an elite status in colonial Lagos.
This thesis examines the economic and social status of repatriated Africans from Cuba and Brazil in Lagos, and the social and economic conditions that served as an impetus for their drastic transition from slavery. More specifically, this study focuses on the relationship between the repatriates and British colonialists during the nineteenth century, and the elite position that the returnees assumed in the Lagos community as a result of this association.