Meet the Carabaris - The Igbo, Ijaw, Ibibiod, Efik descendants of Latin America.
Igbos, Ijaws, Ibibios, Efiks, Ekoids, meet your brothers in Latin America called the Carabalis, Cabaralis, Calaharis or Bracamos. If you encounter any Latin-American with the surname "Carabali", they are likely your long lost relative. The Afro-Latinos taken from the Bight of Biafra and their descendants were called the Carabalis. Many of them still exist even today.
There are different accounts on the origin of the name. Some historians believe that the term "Carabali" originated from the Calabar port, while others maintain it is Kalbary, derived from the English language. Others claim that it is from the Portuguese Calabarra.
During the slave trade era in Latin America, the Africans and their descendants form cultural groups and were classified based on their origin. Many of these groups still maintain a strong cultural or religious identity today. Important examples are the Lukumis (The Yoruba people). You must have thought, how come I have not heard of the Igbos, Ijaws, Efiks and Ibibios in Latin America today? Well, it is because these people from the Bight of Biafra formed a new group called the Carabalis. The Carabalis grew to become a multi-linguistic and influential cultural group. The multi-lingual nature of the group led to the extinction (at least publicly) of their languages, unlike the Lukumis (Yoruba). Also, they were known for forming secret societies, which mimics the Ekpe secret society in their native country.
Then, the Carabalis were feared for leading uprisings and fighting for freedom using their west-African war tactics. This was true especially for the Calabari-Bretches (Mbrishi), who were titled and respected men in Igbo land. The historic 1825 Cuban revolts were led by Lorenzo Lucumíand Federico Carabalí (A Carabali man). Many of them were very suicidal and often tried to free other enslaved people. These suicidal missions and bravery, as noted by the French authors, gave origin to the formula in Haitian creole: "Ibos pend' cor' a yo,".
Many Carabali people are still very influential today and still have their imprints on society. One of the legacies of the Carabalis is the secret society, known as the Abakuaor The ñañigos (The Ekpe society) in Cuba. Many young Cubans have joined these societies to connect to their African roots, especially during the covid-19 pandemic, and found "peace" in them. The 74th Governor of the Columbian state of Valle del Cauca, Adriana Carabali,is most likely of Carabali descent. Some Carabalis maintain the name "Carabali" as a surname.
These four groups from the Bight of Biafra who formed the Carabalis are. (1) Igbos, (2) Ijaws, (3) Parts of Rivers (Obolo, Abua, Ogoni), Akwa-Ibom (e.g Ibibios) and Southern Cross Rivers (Efiks, Ekoids) (v) Central to North Cross-Rivers (e.g Akunakuna, Yakurr, Bahomuno).
The Igbo groups identified as the Carabalis in Mexico, Cuba and Columbia were spelt as (i) Abadja (Abadja) (ii) Abaja (iii) Aban (Abam) (iv) Alensaw (Egbema Alinso) and Awerri (Owerri) (v) Aro (Aro) and Awhawfia (Ohafia) (vi) Awhawzara (ohaozara)(vii) Awtanza (v) Eda (Edda) (vi) Ekkpahia (Ekpeye) (vii) Eshielu (Iselu/Ishielu) (viii) Etche (Etche) (ix) Eziama (Eziama) (x) Yhe (Ihe) (xi) Iji-Ezza-Ikwo (Izzi-Ezza-Ikwo) (xii) Ika (Ika) (xiii) Ikwerri (Ikwerre) (xiv) Isu (Isu) (xv) Isuachi (Isuochi)(xvi) Ndokki (Ndoki) (xvii) Ngdo (Ngwa?) (xviii) Nknu (Nkanu) (xix) Okogba (xx) Onitsha-Awka (Onitsha-Awka) (xxi) Orata (Oratta) (xxii) Oru (Oru) (xxiii) Ubani (Bonny) and (xxiv) Ututu (Ututu) Others are (xxv) Asiana (xxvi) Iyé (xxvi) Iyiesa, (xxvii) Nku, and (xxviii) Koda.
How are the names of these Igbo groups spelt today? Is the name of your place on this list? Please, let us know in the comment section.