“Escravos”: The Name of an Elite Anti-Colonial Freedom Fighting Group


If you have the privilege to visit Warri, the former “oil city” in Delta State coastal Southern Nigeria and ask about the organisation that calls itself “Escravos” it will not take too long for you to find out who they are and where they assemble regularly. You will be told a lot of stories but unless you happen by sheer serendipity to meet a member who would either not tell you anything or who will inform you of the astronomical greatness of the group including its “proud” anti-colonial, pro-democracy and freedom fighting exploits.

Escravos is a Portuguese that means “slaves” (a plural word). The name is confusing, though. Would an elite intellectual group call itself “idiots” or a collective of rich kids adopt the name “wretches”, or an ensemble of the spiritually liberated assume the identity “demons”? Two things must have happened here; either those who chose the name did not know what “Escravos” really meant, they just liked the sound of it or they unwitting opted to be identified by a secret “reverse-meaning” name without realising society will one day know it and take it literally.
Grimot Nane
(Originally published on February 12, 2015)

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