The Portuguese and the Edo people have a long standing history, During one of the Portuguese voyages along the coast of west Africa; the Portuguese explorer, Ruy de Sequeira arrived on the coast of the Niger Delta, present-day Nigeria In 1472. The coast was an area controlled by the powerful kingdom of Benin located in the hinterland north of the delta. However, the kingdom was not known to Europeans at the time, and this was the first time any European has ever reached this area. This first visit promoted subsequent explorations as another Portuguese explorer; Affonso d’Aveiro ventured into the delta to visit Benin, a decade later.
The stories about Benin that compelled the Portuguese to breach their customary adherence to coastal harbors and take the risk of venturing into the delta.
According to QuartzAfrica, When Aveiro reached Benin in 1486, what he found was a large and advanced country with a city comparable to those in Europe. The people of the kingdom—the Edo people; lived in a city and towns run by a centralized and sophisticated bureaucracy. The roads were wide, long, and straight, with huge metal lamps hanging many feet high to provide light at night. The people lived in large houses with courtyards and dressed in beautiful cloth made in the kingdom.
Aveiro was astounded by the high level of organization and wealth of the country; and described it as the “great city of Benin.” He quickly established a diplomatic and trade relationship between Portugal and Benin; and stayed behind as Portugal’s emissary in the kingdom. Also, the King of Benin sent several emissaries from Benin to Portugal at different times.
The Edo language merges to form the Portuguese Creole
This relationship between the Portuguese and Edo people in the region; shaped the pidgin spoken in the Niger Delta region today and also; what may be a surprise to many—Portuguese creole.
The Gulf of Guinea creoles are the main Portuguese creole languages still spoken today. There are a few other portuguese creoles spoken by a few thousand people; in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Singapore, and Indonesia. Several studies have also shown though that the Edo language is the major African componentthat constitutes the foundation of the creoles of the Gulf of Guinea.
At least one variety of these creoles is spoken in Sao tome and Principe and Equatorial Guinea; with diaspora speakers mainly in Angola and Portugal, according to the Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Language Structures (APiCS); a linguistic atlas that provides expert-based information on 130 grammatical and lexical features of 76 pidgin and creole languages from around the world.
According to linguists, Gulf of Guinea Creoles were derived from the combination of the Portuguese language; Edo language (including closely related Edoid languages in the Niger delta), and Bantu languages (mainly Kikongo and Kimbundu). The creoles emerged from a first-contact language or pidgin resulting from the contact between the Portuguese colonizers; and the enslaved people from the kingdom of Benin in Sao Tome; then the Bantu languages came in contact with the newly formed Portuguese-Edo language in the island some decades later.
In a study, John Ladhams, a Linguistics expert in Portuguese-based pidgin and creole at the University of Westminster; explained that the grammatical process in which a sequence of meaningful word elements; are composed has originated in an Edo noun prefix in the creole of the Gulf of Guinea and there is a higher proportion of Edo contribution to other word classes such as adjectives, verbs, and adverbs than nouns.