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Correction: Brazil Has Not Made Yoruba an Official Language

Brazil's Ministry of Culture tells OkayAfrica that the Minister of Culture was not in attendance during the event where the announcement was said to have been made.

Yesterday, reports circulated in Nigerian media that Brazil had adopted Yoruba as an official foreign language. We reported on it suggesting it was accurate (see below), but with more digging we've found that the story doesn't quite add up.

As we probed further and searched the news for supplemental content, we received confirmation from Rafael Baldo Guimaraes, from the Brazilian Ministry of Culture that the story is "fake news." According to Brazil's Minister of Culture, Dr. Sérgio Sá Leitão's, schedule, he was not in attendance at the seminar mentioned in Nigerian news sites such as The Nigerian Voice and The Poise Nigeria, which appeared to show photographs from the event.

We will continue to keep you updated on the story as we learn more. You can read on for the original story.

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Yoruba history and culture has an undeniably strong presence in Brazilian society, due of course, to the Transatlantic slave trade which brought millions of enslaved West Africans to the Americas. Despite the inhumanity they faced, many managed to keep their ancestral culture and traditions alive.

Centuries have passed, and Yoruba influences still continue to thrive in various regions of the country, as many Brazilians maintain a strong relationship with the language and religion. Its influence can be seen through the music, food and spiritual practices of various communities. Last month the Ooni of Ife—the spiritual leader of the Yoruba people—visited the country, where he was met by crowds of Black Brazilians who turned up to pay their respects.

This connection will likely remain strong for future generations, as the language has now become an official foreign language in the country.

WATCH: How Ilê Aiyê Brought Blackness Back to Carnival

Brazil's Minister of Culture, Dr. Sérgio Sá Leitão, has said that the language will now be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum, reports the Nigerian Voice.


The announcement occurred during the fourth edition of the National meetings of the African-Brazilian storytellers, called "AYO" which featured a host of prominent Yoruba scholars and thinkers including legendary Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, São Paulo-based Nigerian artist, Adeyinka Olaiya and Dr. Sophie Oluwole, the first women to receive a doctorate in Yoruba Studies, reports Konbini.

READ: In Photos: the Ooni of Ife Visits Brazil

A number of Latino scholars and public figures where also in attendance to speak on the influence of Yoruba traditions on Brazilian cultural beliefs. Speakers such as Peruvian Nobel laureate and professor, Mário Vargas Llosa emphasized the importance of promoting Yoruba culture as a means of fostering meaningful connections between Brazilians and their African heritage.

One word of caution, while this news has been reported in the Nigerian press and other international outlets we've yet to see a report from Brazil confirming this information. We will update the article once that's confirmed.

Many Afro-Brazilians are happy to see the government taking steps to preserve the country's rich African roots, while also recognizing that the country still has a long way to go in terms of race relations and the treatment of it black population.

For more on the subject revisit our pieces on "Why Brazilians are Embracing Afrofuturism," as well as our "Mini-Guide to Salvador," considered Brazil's "blackest"city.

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