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Aaron Myers

In the first half of the nineteenth century, thousands of African slaves were involuntarily brought from the Calabar region of southwestern Nigeria to Cuba in order to labor on the sugar plantations. In Cuba, these enslaved people reconstructed aspects of their language (Igbo) and religious rituals in Abakuás, all-male organizations with closely guarded religious, musical, and dance traditions. The prototype for Cuba's Abakuás can be found in Calabar's leopard societies, groups of highly respected, accomplished men who adopted the leopard as a symbol of masculinity. Today as in the past, Abakuás are found predominantly in the city of Havana and the province of Matanzas and are united by a common African mythology and ritual system.

Abakuás preserve African traditions through performative ceremonies a complex system of signs and narratives in the Igbo language Customarily led by four leaders and eight subordinate officers members of the Abakuás seek to protect ...


Allan D. Austin

a military leader in Africa, a slave in Mississippi, was born into the rising Bari family of the Fulbe people in the fabled but real African city of Timbuktu. His name is sometimes written as Abdul Rahahman and Abder Rahman. The Fulbe people were prominent leaders in West African jihads from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries and, though enslaved, the most persistent adherents to Islam in the Americas. Abd al-Rahman's father and family had moved south to territory soon to be called Futa Jallon in the highlands of present-day Guinea after he and non-Muslim allies wrested power from their animist opposition between 1776 and 1778. Well into the twentieth century the military Bari-Soriya and religious Karamoko Alfiya families, usually peacefully, traded rule over their people and lands.

For about a century Futa Jallon was the strongest nation in the area. In its capital Timbo, Abd al-Rahman ...


The well-known white Cuban Creole author Cirilo Villaverde (1812–1894) published a first version of Cecilia Valdés in 1839 (thirteen years before Uncle Tom's Cabin, in 1852) at the urging of the abolitionist editor and journalist Domingo del Monte. Del Monte had commissioned the novel to be read at his famous tertulia, social gatherings in Havana, where intellectuals presented works to one another and to supporters who would gather to listen. There was the potential of sending the works to England as part of the 1838 dossier that del Monte was preparing for Richard Madden. Madden was the British representative to the International Tribunal of Justice, which oversaw the ban on slave trading and the protection of freedpeople. The purpose of del Monte's circle of liberal planters and professionals was to embarrass Spain into granting abolition and other reforms including Cuban representation in ...


Kate Tuttle

The son of an Ethiopian father and a mother of French and African descent, Peter Abrahams was considered “Coloured” in the South African racial classification scheme. He grew up outside Johannesburg and began working at the age of nine, never having attended school. He later enrolled, however, after he was inspired by hearing Othello read to him by a coworker. As a teenager Abrahams discovered works by African American writers such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer in the library at the Bantu Men's Social Centre.

Abrahams began publishing his own poems in local newspapers while studying at a teachers’ training college. While enrolled at St. Peter's Secondary School—a fertile political environment—Abrahams became a member of the Communist Party of South Africa (later renamed the South African Communist Party After his failed attempt to start a school for poor African ...


Endowed with a fine harbor, which is almost entirely landlocked, and located in a setting of great natural beauty, Acapulco de Juárez is sometimes called the Riviera of Mexico It has luxury hotels gambling casinos and excellent beaches and is popular for winter vacations and deep sea fishing The ...

Primary Source

After nearly ten years of working as an itinerant preacher throughout the colonial South, the former slave George Liele (c. 1750–c. 1828) left the American colonies during the British evacuation of Savannah in 1782. Liele had fought with the Loyalists, and traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, to found the first Baptist church in that country. By 1784, Liele’s congregation was large enough for him to purchase property and construct a new building. However, because the church was made up almost entirely of slaves, Liele faced constant difficulties raising funds, and had to assure local elites that his assembly of servants was not somehow fomenting a rebellion.

The passage below is taken from the Baptist Annual Register, for 1790, 1791, 1792, and part of 1793 in which the church official John Rippon of gives an account of Liele s progress in the early 1790s Rippon gives the preacher the opportunity to ...


Rob Garrison

Isidro Acea was greatly respected for his bravery and unceremonious nature. Described as a very outspoken man and a charismatic leader, his personal qualities enabled him to gain a position as colonel in the Liberation Army under General Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo y Grajales.

Acea lived during a period of Cuban history when the society was highly politicized around the issue of race, particularly after the War of Independence (1895–1898 Afro Cubans were frustrated by the Cuban administration United States military occupation and Spanish migration all of which exacerbated social inequity for people of African descent in the nation Acea like some other Afro Cuban veterans attempted to connect with the community and gain support by entering the political arena on a pro black platform in the early 1900s The platform lacked patronage particularly because of U S imposed restrictions on male suffrage that required literacy ...


The existence of HIV was first identified among populations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, as it was in North America and sub-Saharan Africa, in the early 1980s. HIV is a particularly virulent and incurable infection that is transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids (such as blood or semen) and attacks the immune system, leaving the infected person susceptible to opportunistic infections and certain cancers, often resulting in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and death. Recent trends in Latin America and the Caribbean show a disproportionate number of new cases of HIV infection emerging among the poor and working classes and among populations of African descent.

After a few cases of the disease were diagnosed among Haitian immigrants in the United States, considerable attention was focused on the AIDS epidemic in Haiti This focus led to the misconception among many U S scientists and in the media that Haitian ...


Aaron Myers

During the 1960s and 1970s, influenced by the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in the United States and nationalist movements in Africa, Afro-Brazilians experienced a surge in black pride. This heightened black consciousness was also prompted by denouncements of racism and praises to “Mother Africa” heard in Jamaican Reggae, increasingly popular in Brazil during the 1970s. As a result, black Brazilians, especially those in cities such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Salvador, reaffirmed their connection with Africa and became more vocal about problems facing their community, particularly racial discrimination. This process was accelerated by the abertura (opening)—the gradual return to democratic rule that began in 1979 and loosened restrictions on free speech. In Salvador, this newfound black pride reinvigorated the old and waning afoxés and gave birth to a new type of black Carnival organization, the bloco Afro.

Afoxés emerged in the late ...


Michael Niblett

Bulletin of the International African Service Bureau (IASB). The IASB was founded in London in 1937 by the Trinidadian activists C. L. R. James and George Padmore, the Sierra Leonean I. T. A. Wallace‐Johnson, the Kenyan Jomo Kenyatta, and the Guyanese radical Ras Makonnen. All were leading figures within Pan‐Africanism, and their decision to establish the IASB was prompted in part by the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.

The aim of the organization was to help enlighten the British public by distributing literature and holding talks on the issue of colonialism. Africa and the World was introduced in early 1937 to further these ends, the driving force behind it being the Marxist activist and trade unionist Wallace‐Johnson, who became its editor as well as General Secretary of the IASB. By the autumn of 1937 the bulletin had developed into a journal, the African Sentinel which ...


Ana Raquel Fernandes

One of the major black associations in Liverpool in the 1950s. It was established in September 1952 with a declared mission to advance the cause of Africans everywhere, and to bring ‘honour and glory’ to African peoples. The Society's aims and activities were diverse, and local and global in scope. Its primary objective was to promote employment opportunities for skilled black workers in the Gold Coast and elsewhere in Africa, to promote cultural, educational, and technical knowledge, and to encourage the greater participation of African people in the British and international civil services. It also aimed to provide financial aid and moral support to members.

The Society not only was concerned with the material welfare of Africans in Liverpool, but also sought to foster interest in, and international support for, Africa. To this end, it strove to build unity among the member states of the British Commonwealth.

Seeking to arouse ...


John Herschel Barnhill

The African diaspora is the movement of people of African descent to other parts of the world; participants in the diaspora are diasporans. Struggle and resistance and the impulse to freedom inform the African diasporan memory, religion, and culture. The transatlantic African diaspora began in the fifteenth century. Earlier, Africans had moved individually and voluntarily to the Middle East, Europe, and Asia; their descendants merged with the dominant population, and only their DNA showed their African ancestry. The 1 to 11 million northern and eastern Africans taken by the Arab slave trade to Islamic countries in Asia and the Middle East intermarried, blended, and left only their DNA as physical evidence. The transatlantic slave trade relocated 10 to 12 million Africans, too many for the white populations of the Americas to absorb, particularly given the nature of the slavery and the assumptions underlying it.


Any discussion of African ethnic groups in the Americas must begin with certain caveats concerning the nature of African “ethnic groups” in the areas of west, west central, and southeastern Africa, from which African diasporic populations in the Americas and the Caribbean originated. First, scholars and other observers have rightly pointed out the cultural similarities and shared histories of large groups of people whom they have termed ethnic groups. However, among African people themselves, before the age of European colonialism in the nineteenth century, such labels affiliating large groups of people held little everyday meaning. That is to say, an Igbo woman in a village in West Africa did not necessarily attach great importance—or any importance at all—to belonging within a larger Igbo collective of tens of thousands of people.

Second within all such ethnic groups there exist literally countless local and regional subgroups with various cultural and historical distinctions ...


When enslaved black Africans were brought to the Americas and the Caribbean, their languages came into contact with European languages. At the same time, plantations brought together Africans from different ethnic and linguistic origins who did not share a common language. As a result, the plantations became multilingual settings in which the slaves were compelled by circumstances to resort to using the owners' languages as lingua francas and later as vernaculars, that is, languages used for day-to-day communication. The vast majority of African slaves brought to the New World were adults, and thus already fluent speakers of their local languages, which inevitably influenced the way they spoke European colonial languages.

The European languages used in the colonies were already different from their metropolitan ancestors as they were by products of communication among European colonists who spoke diverse dialects and languages They were further restructured when spoken by the Africans especially ...


Filomena Sandalo and Luciana Storto

Although the issue remains inconclusive, Brazil's spoken Portuguese appears not to have evolved from or have been a full-fledged Africanized creole, such as those creoles spoken in many parts of the Caribbean. Nevertheless, Brazilian Portuguese was significantly influenced by the languages that the country's large slave population introduced.

Evaluating Brazil s three centuries of slavery might lead to the hypothesis that the varieties of Portuguese spoken in the country could have gone through a process of creolization in colonial times parallel to what has happened in many countries of the Caribbean The African presence in Brazil is the largest in the Americas 38 percent of all Africans who came in colonial times to the New World were brought to Brazil as opposed for example to the 4 5 percent who were brought to North America Slavery in Brazil also lasted longer than anywhere else in the New World the slave ...


Richard Newman

George Alexander McGuire (1866–1934) was an Antiguan ordained in the Episcopal Church in the United States who responded enthusiastically to the Black Nationalism of Marcus Garvey. McGuire envisioned an autonomous black church in the Episcopal tradition as a dimension of the Garvey Movement, much as the Anglican Church served as an international aspect of the British Empire. In 1921 he founded the African Orthodox Church (AOC) in New York. It attracted primarily West Indians sympathetic to Anglicanism, but also some Episcopalians and Roman Catholics who saw little future for blacks in American churches.

Garvey himself never joined the AOC, and in fact warned against both religious divisiveness and competing loyalties to his Universal Negro Improvement Association McGuire vigorously promoted a racially identified faith creating nationalist liturgies and calling for the image of a black Christ Unable to secure consecration to the bishopric from recognized authorities ...


Miranda Kaufmann

Over 360 individuals of African descent lived in Britain between 1500 and 1640 They were living across Britain from Scotland and Hull in northern England to Truro in the farthest southwest county of Cornwall Around one third were found in London with concentrations in southern port cities such as Southampton Bristol and Plymouth but also in remote rural villages such as Bluntisham cum Earith in Cambridgeshire They appear in a wide range of archival sources including parish registers tax returns household accounts letters diaries wills government papers and legal records Identifying people of African origin in these sources is not always easy as many different terms were used to describe them In any case when in doubt it is vital to read the original document and not to be misled by toponymical surnames such as Blackemore or the word black used to describe someone who may just have had ...


David Dabydeen

Africanservant who served and died in Henbury, Bristol. Africanus was the servant of Charles William, Earl of Suffolk and Bindon. The Earl married into the Astry family of Henbury House. Africanus, who was named after an ancient Roman general, was a symbol of their wealth. He, like other servants of African origin who worked in aristocratic homes, was a novelty who, besides doing domestic chores, also functioned as a showpiece for wealthy guests.

In the 18th century thousands of male and female slaves arrived in Britain to become servants of the rich minority They mainly came from the New World rather than directly from Africa The common erroneous belief was that Bristol slavers brought Africans back and kept them chained in the Redcliff caves before shipping them across the Atlantic The truth was that most African slaves were part of the triangular trade being transported from ...


When Africa is regarded as part of the cultural and political history of the African diaspora, it is usually recognized only as an origin—as a past to the African American present, as a source of survival in the Americas, as the roots of African American branches and leaves, or, at the most dialectical, as a concept conjured up by New World blacks as a trope of racial unity.

Yet, in truth, the cultures of both Africa and the Americas have shaped each other through a live dialogue that continued beyond the end of the slave trade. In ways easily documented since the eighteenth century, travel by free Africans and African Americans (by which I mean people of African descent throughout the Americas) has continued to shape political identities and cultural practices in North and South America, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Since the eighteenth century enslaved or free black seamen have ...


For information on

Art and film: See Art in Latin America and the Caribbean

Brazil: Cinema, Black, in Brazil; Cinema Novo; Diegues; Grande Otelo; Samba, Candomblé, and Quilombo in Brazilian Cinema: An Interpretation.

Capoeira: See Capoeira; Mestre Bimba; Mestre Pastinha.

Carnival: See Carnivals in Latin America and the Caribbean; Afoxés/Blocos Afros; Filhos de Gandhi; Ilê Aiyê; Olodum; Samba Schools.

Music and dance: Berimbau; Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Music; Samba; Tia Ciata; Tropicália.

Musicians: See Benjor; Bola Sete;Brown; Cartola; Caymmi; Djavan; Donga; Garcia; Gil; Jesus; Moreira and Purim; Nascimento; Pandeiro; Pixinguinha; Science; Vasconcelos.

Language: See African Linguistic Influences on Brazilian Portuguese; Cafundó; Complexities of Ethnic and Racial Terminology in Latin America and the Caribbean ...