Millie gone to Brazil, Oh Lawd, poor Millie

In the 1920s a man called Bailey murdered his common-law wife Millie and deposited her corpse in a well.  There are conflicting reports about the location of that well.

Below are the words to a well-known Barbadian folk song written by an unknown author in the 1920s.

Millie gone to Brazil
Oh Lawd, poor Millie
Millie gone to Brazil
Oh Lawd, poor Millie

Wid the wire wrap round she waist
And the Razor cut up she face
Wid the wire wrap round she waist
And the razor cut up she face.

Millie down in the well
Oh Lawd, poor Millie
Millie down in the well
Oh Lawd, poor Millie

Wid the wire wrap round she waist
And the Razor cut up she face
Wid the wire wrap round she waist
And the razor cut up she face’

The story goes that Millie was preparing to leave her abusive husband, Bailey, but he heard of her plans before she could put them into action. Bailey killed her and threw her corpse into a well.

When Bailey was asked where Millie was he said “Millie gone to Brazil”.

Immigrating to Brazil was one way that former slaves could get away from the Barbados plantation system.  At the time many Barbadians were immigrating to Brazil.  Many of those who left were never heard from again due to the poor communication between the countries.

When poor Millie’s body started to rot the smell alerted the workers and the truth was made clear.

Bailey was tried and condemned to hang.


Mille gone to Brazil by the The Gibbs Bros.


Thanks to Harriet Pierce, of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society.  For further information on Barbadians immigrating to Brazil get a copy of the Barbados Museum’s journal of December 2012. This can be purchased at the museum’s gift shop.


Here are some additional references:

“Millie Gone to Brazil! Barbadian migration to Brazil in the early 20th century” by Frederick Alleyne and Elaine Rocha from from the University of the West Indies – Cave Hill (Barbados). The article discusses the Barbadian migration to Brazil between the last years of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century.

“Millie Gone To Brazil” : Three Online Articles About Bajans’ Migration To Brazil In The Early 20th Century – Edited by Azizi Powell


Footnote: The feature image used is not of Millie.  It is: Mbissine Thérèse Diop, who was Diouana in the 1966 Ousmane Sembène’s film LA NOIRE DE… (BLACK GIRL).  Photograph: Ousmane Sembène/Janus Films.  This was the image of Mille used in the Gibbs Bros. video: “Mille gone to Brazil” above.

Ousmane Sembène, is the most internationally renowned African director of the twentieth century.  He made his feature film debut in 1966 with the brilliant and stirring La noire de…(Black Girl). 

In 2016 Janus Films of New York re-released a 4k restoration of Ousmane Sembène’s landmark film.  LA NOIRE DE… (BLACK GIRL) is a harrowing human drama as well as a radical political statement – and one of the essential films of the 1960s.

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