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Article

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 ...

Article

David Killingray

Son of Téwodros II, Emperor of Ethiopia. Alamayahu was orphaned when his father committed suicide during the British assault on Magdala in the war of 1868. He was brought to Britain in the care of Captain Tristram Speedy as a ward of the government. At Osborne, in the Isle of Wight, Alamayahu was introduced to Queen Victoria, who from then on took a distant interest in the young boy's welfare. While on the Isle of Wight, Alamayahu caused something of a sensation among the islanders, and he was photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron her pictures show a listless and sad looking boy Speed took the young Ethiopian prince with him to India but at the age of 10 and against his wishes and the advice of Queen Victoria he was sent to boarding school in Britain At the age of 17 Alamayahu entered the Royal Military ...

Article

Emmanuel Akyeampong

Alcoholic beverages have played an important role in the religious, political, economic, and social history of sub-Saharan Africa. As early as the eleventh century c.e.., historical records mention the presence of alcoholic drinks in the Sahelian kingdom of Ghana. Alcohol is a cultural artifact, a ritual object, an economic good, and a social marker. As a cultural artifact, its production, distribution, and consumption were circumscribed by rules in the precolonial era. Perceived as a sacred fluid in many cultures, it facilitated communication among the living, the ancestors, and the gods. Through the ritual of libation—the pouring of an alcoholic drink on the ground accompanied by prayer—alcohol played a key role in Rites of Passage and Transition and festivals It was a valuable commodity and its possession conferred status and wealth Alcoholic drinks were coveted and male elders monopolized the consumption of alcohol As a marker of inclusion ...

Article

Edmund Abaka

The ancestors are those who have departed and joined those who had departed earlier for the world of the dead. They constitute the linchpin of African traditional religion. It is to the ancestors that the living look for succour in times of trouble, favor in the event of adversity and difficulties, and blessings whenever a new enterprise is to be undertaken. The ancestors are venerated, not worshipped, for the help that they provide to the living. Specific festivals such as the Adae of the Akan of Ghana are designed to propitiate the ancestors.

In African traditional religion the Supreme Being ranks first among all powers The Supreme Being is given various names in various societies Second in the hierarchy are the deities or the lesser gods who are considered messengers or vice regents of the Supreme Being They represent various manifestations of the Supreme Being and do his bidding Although ...

Article

Sally Falk Moore

What was known about Africa before there were serious academic studies was sparse and variable in credibility. Anthropology, as a formal academic subject, was a late-nineteenth-century Anglo-Euro-American academic invention. It began as the comparative study of little-known non-Western societies, but very soon broadened into the study of all human societies. After some tentative starts, by the 1920s Africa had become a major area of serious research. Colonial administration made access easy, and the objective of achieving a greater understanding of the peoples of Africa attracted scholars, missionaries, and officials alike.

Inevitably, the first project was to identify who the peoples of Africa were, where they were situated geographically, and what their way of life might be. The task of information gathering was daunting. Hundreds of Languages and dialects were spoken by as many groups of people each of which identified itself as having a distinct history and culture There ...

Article

Funso Afolayan

The word àṣộ (or àshe.) among the Yoruba-speaking people of West Africa and of the African Diaspora in the Americas and other places, means “power,” “authority,” “command,” “energy,” or “life force.” The concept of àṣộ is an affective, foundational, albeit enigmatic, principle that informs religious, social, political, artistic, and philosophical discourses among the Yoruba. Àṣẹ is believed to originate from Olodumare, the Supreme Being of the Yoruba. As the bestower of life and virtue, Olodumare is the very embodiment of àṣộ. As a vital energy, àṣộ sustains all things, whether animate or inanimate, deities, spirits, ancestors, humans, animals, plants, rivers, mountains, rocks, caves, and many more. Intangible and intractable voiced words, eye flashes, a wink, a wave of the hand, and other visual and voiced expressions, such as songs, praises, incantations, chants, curses, and everyday conversations, become powerful and potent as a result of their infusion with àṣộ ...

Article

Gloria Chuku

an intelligent Hausa woman of Karo village in the then Zaria Province of northern Nigeria, was born to a polygynous Hausa father of Kanuri descent, Tosho, who was a farmer and a qurʾanic teacher. As a successful farmer, Tosho owned many slaves, who did most of the cultivation and marketing of his farm products. Paradoxically, his family prosperity depended on slavery and also evaporated because of slave raids and the final emancipation of slaves. Her mother, Fatsuma, was a secluded Muslim woman who prepared food and spun cotton for sale. Baba of Karo is also known as Baba Hasetu Dantsoho.

All that is known about Baba is based on interviews she granted to Mary Smith, the wife of Michael Smith, a Jamaican social anthropologist who did field research in northern Nigeria in the 1940s and 1950s. The interviews were carried out between November 1949 and January 1950 at ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Born in Jamaica around 1745, Francis Barber was baptized, educated and brought to England by a West Indian slave owner, Colonel Bathurst, in 1752. Bathurst died shortly after their arrival, but not before freeing Barber. Bathurst's son found Barber work with the British author Samuel Johnson, who opposed the slave trade. At a time when black pages in their twenties were commonly deported because it was unfashionable to employ them after adolescence, it was particularly unusual that Johnson and Barber sustained a long and affectionate relationship.

Johnson, who had no children of his own, treated Barber as a son. From 1767 to 1772 he sent Barber to school where he proved himself bright and articulate Barber served Johnson for nearly thirty years acting as Johnson s manservant and receiving and answering Johnson s letters Barber left the Johnson household only twice once to work for a ...

Article

Bedouin  

Leyla Keough

The Bedouin are Arab nomads who traditionally controlled caravan trade routes through the Arabian and Saharan deserts and played a substantial role in the politics and economy of the Middle East and North Africa. Proud of their strict ethical codes and their nomadic lifestyle, the Bedouin helped introduce Islam to Africa.

The Bedouin originated in the Arabian Peninsula, where their ancestors lived in a number of distinct tribes before the emergence of Islam during the seventh century. The Bedouin have remained divided into numerous tribal groups and, with one brief exception, never formed a coherent state. The Bedouin unified briefly under the leadership of the prophet Muhammad and his successors during the mid-seventh century to embrace Islam. Indeed, the first Muslims were primarily the Bedouin. By 642, Muslim—largely Bedouin—armies conquered much of the Middle East, including Egypt During the late seventh and eighth centuries Bedouin armies brought Islam to ...

Article

The black Latin American family is often regarded as unstable, broken, and illegitimate. Such an opinion is based on two premises. The first is that Africans arrived in Latin America as cultureless individuals unable to reproduce in a strange social environment. The other is that the Roman Catholic Church failed to impose Christian morality on African slaves and their descendants, who were given to free unions, intermittent relationships, and concubinage.

What contradicts such assertions is that Africans remembered their families and kin In Latin America they expressed these memories in African music and African attitudes toward death as expressed in the rites and ceremonies of African American slaves However a demographic imbalance occurred early in the colonization of Latin America More men European and African arrived in Latin America than women Many of these men sought union with aboriginal women As the slave trade increased throughout the seventeenth century unions ...

Article

The black women's movement in Latin America and the Caribbean has been deeply marked by the region's political, social, and cultural diversity. The countries of this region share a common past of colonial rule maintained during four centuries on the basis of exterminating large indigenous populations and enslaving an estimated 10 to 15 million Africans.

Black women have played a key role in the history of their peoples and in the history of Latin America and the Caribbean. Throughout the colonial period until the present, they have preserved African values. Black women have been responsible for the survival and re-creation of African cultures and religious practices. These cultures and practices have offered different models of life and death, the feminine and the masculine, nature, and divinity. Black women also fought against slavery.

After the abolition of slavery the great majority of black women remained domestic workers and farm workers This ...

Article

Whether or not black Africans or black Iberians reached the New World with Columbus in either of his first two voyages is not clear. Nor is it clear whether Africans reached the New World prior to Columbus. We do know, however, that with the first serious European settlement on the island of Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic and Haiti), the African diaspora in the Americas began with a seminal moment of self-liberation.

“With the fleet of Governor Ovando, bound for Hispaniola in 1502 to reinvigorate the faltering colony that Columbus had left behind the previous year, sailed a few Negroes brought by their masters,” wrote historian Carlos Federico Guillot. “Among them was the first Afro-American maroon, an anonymous slave who escaped to the Indians [Taíno Arawaks] in the mountainous interior soon after setting foot in the New World.”

In western Hispaniola where the French established colonial St ...

Article

Brixton  

Cecily Jones

South London suburb that has been home since the 1940s to thousands of African Caribbean immigrants whose presence has contributed to the making of an energetic and multicultural melting pot in the United Kingdom Like one of its main roads Electric Avenue so named because it was the first ...

Article

David Killingray

Children born out of wedlock to white mothers and black fathers, mostly American GIs during and immediately after the Second World War. From 1942 onwards a total of 130,000 black GIs, part of a racially segregated US Army, were stationed in various parts of Britain, the largest presence of black men in the country's history. The US forces introduced their ‘Jim Crow’ policies into Britain, and for diplomatic reasons the British government permitted this. The British authorities also often ignored these practices when the Americans extended them off their military bases. Black GIs socializing with white women resulted in increased racial tension. Between 1943 and 1947 some 700 1 000 brown babies were born to white British women most of whom were unmarried although some had husbands serving in the forces Marriage to a black man and settlement in the United States was not an option Many mothers ...

Article

Stephen Bourne

Black Londoner whose life as a working‐class seamstress was documented in Aunt Esther's Story (1991), published by Hammersmith and Fulham's Ethnic Communities Oral History Project, and co‐authored with Stephen Bourne. Aunt Esther's Story provides a first‐hand account of Bruce's life as a black Briton in the pre‐Empire Windrush years. Her father, Joseph (1880–1941), arrived in London from British Guiana (now Guyana) in the early 1900s and settled in a tight‐knit working‐class community in Fulham. He worked as a builder's labourer. When Bruce was a young child, Joseph instilled in his daughter a sense of pride in being black. After leaving school, she worked as a seamstress, and in the 1930s she made dresses for the popular African‐American stage star Elisabeth Welch. She also befriended another black citizen of Fulham: the Jamaican nationalist Marcus Garvey She told Bourne he was a nice chap ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Cardiff was the world's leading exporter of coal and a major industrial center during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The rough seas of the Bristol Channel outside the city's port earned the district the name Tiger Bay. Cardiff attracted sailors from all over the world—including low-paid black seamen from Africa and the West Indies, along with others from the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia.

By the 1890s sailors frequented seedy bars and houses of prostitution in the area around the Cardiff docks known as Butetown. As a result, Cardiff gained a reputation as a place of vice and corruption. In 1914 as whites left to fight in World War I black immigrants came to fill the positions left behind Up to 3 000 people from British colonies in Asia Africa and the West Indies settled in Cardiff Many of the blacks married local white women ...

Article

Peter Hudson

Begun in 1967 as part of Canada's centennial celebrations, Caribana has become the largest festival in the country, annually attracting more than one million visitors to Toronto. Held early in August, it is but one of the many versions of the tradition of Carnival, which dates back to the eighteenth-century celebrations held before Lent by the French plantocracy in Trinidad. After emancipation, blacks, once barred from Carnival celebrations, began to use Carnival as a time to celebrate their freedom. Since then the tradition of Carnival has spread globally to almost every city where West Indians live, including Toronto.

Besides ancillary performances and parties the main attraction of Caribana is the Mas or masquerade a parade in which revelers build floats and don costumes against the backdrop of steel band and calypso music In its early incarnations Caribana tried to be a pan Caribbean panblack event that reflected the changing ...

Article

N. Gregson Davis

Aimé Césaire (1913–2008) was a major literary figure, statesman, and intellectual leader, both in the francophone Antilles and in the international arena, from the middle of the twentieth century. As a young social activist, he played a formative role in the articulation of the seminal concept of négritude, a neologism that he is credited with having invented. As literary artist he has achieved global recognition for his poetry and lyric drama in signal ways; for example, his lyric volume Corps Perdu (Lost Body) was published in a deluxe edition with illustrations by Pablo Picasso in 1950; several of his poetry collections won literary prizes in metropolitan France (e.g., the Prix René Laporte for Ferrements [1960], and the Grand Prix National de la Poésie for moi, laminaire … [1982]). La Tragédie du roi Christophe The Tragedy of King Christophe a play based ...

Article

Karen A. Porter

Throughout the world, ecology, culture, politics, and history shape what work is to be done, who performs it and how, and the social meanings ascribed to it, but gender and age tend to organize work most decidedly. In Africa gender and age have greatly influenced children’s work across precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial periods. In addition, education and the continuing process of delocalization and integration into a world capitalist economy have affected the everyday experiences of millions of African children.

Article

Justin J. Corfield

An author and historian who spent most of his life studying the role of Africans in world history, John Henrik Clarke, born 1 January 1915 in Union Springs, Alabama, was one of the academics who did much to promote the history of Africa and Africans in the United States. Outspoken on many issues, he was a prolific writer and was one of the few highly regarded academics that never completed high school. His main focus was on showing how European scholarship had belittled events in Africa before the arrival of the colonial powers and how they also tended to dismiss the contribution Africa had made to European and American history.

John Henrik Clarke was born as John Henry Clark his father being John Clark and his mother Willie Elle née Mays His parents were sharecroppers and soon after he was born the family moved to Columbus Georgia As a ...