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Article

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 ...

Article

George Michael La Rue

sultan of the Sudanese kingdom of Darfur from 1785 to 1801, was born to Sultan Ahmad Bukr and an unknown woman. The youngest of four sons of Ahmad Bukr who ruled Darfur, many thought him a weak choice. He became a very successful monarch, after overcoming internal opposition. During his reign Darfur’s system of sultanic estates (hakuras) flourished, and the sultanate became Egypt’s main supplier of trans-Saharan goods, including ivory, ostrich feathers, and slaves.

After a series of wars and intrigues involving internal factions, the rival Musabbaʾat dynasty in Kordofan, and Wadai, sultan Muhammad Tayrab ibn Ahmad Bukr made peace with Wadai to the west and successfully invaded Kordofan. This war took the Fur armies far from home (reputedly to the Nile), and the sultan was forced to turn back in 1786 By the time the army reached Bara the sultan was dying and the succession ...

Article

David L. Weeks

military leader, enslaved and later repatriated to Africa, was born in Timbuktu, the son of Ibrahima Sori (d. c.1788), a West African Fulbe king (also called Fulah, Fulani, Peuls), and one of his four wives. ʿAbd al-Rahman's grandfather, a Moor (a North African Muslim), had been king of Timbuktu.

As the son of an almami (Muslim theocratic ruler), ʿAbd al-Rahman was surrounded by wealth and power. He was raised in Futa Jallon, the lush highlands of modern Guinea, in the city of Timbo. After learning to read, write, and recite the Qur’an, Ibrahima went to Jenne and Timbuktu to study with Islamic clerics. At age seventeen, he joined his father's army. His military prowess soon resulted in significant leadership positions. In 1786 Ibrahima married and had a son (al-Husayn).

Fulbe tribesmen traded with Europeans along the African coast 150 miles 240 kilometers away Taking wares ...

Article

John Gilmore

The term can be applied either to the ending of slavery, or to the ending of the slave trade, but in British historical writing the former is more usually referred to as emancipation.

While there are earlier examples of individuals who had doubts about the legality or morality of both the slave trade and slavery, serious public questioning of these institutions only began in Britain in the third quarter of the 18th century, with the attention focused on legal cases such as those of Jonathan Strong and James Somerset (see Somerset case). The first group of people who collectively questioned the legitimacy of the slave trade were the Quakers, who formed a Committee on the Slave Trade in 1783 and were also prominent in the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade also referred to as the Society for the Abolition of the ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of Dahomey, was born sometime in the middle of the eighteenth century. His father was Agonglo, king of Dahomey from 1789 to 1797. Adandozan was the eldest son of Agonglo. Oral narratives collected later in the nineteenth century presented him as incompetent and mentally deranged, but it should be kept in mind that rival royal family members eventually ousted Adandozan from power and would have had a vested interest in deriding his achievements. Adandozan ascended to the throne of Dahomey in 1797, in a time marked by difficulties for the kingdom. The royal slave-trading monopoly ran aground on international difficulties, particularly the decision of the French government to abandon the slave trade from 1794 to 1802 and the British and US governments’ decision to abandon the slave trade in 1807 and 1808 respectively The British government began to send warships to stop other countries from purchasing ...

Article

Patricia Acerbi

was born into slavery in the northern Brazilian city of São Luís do Maranhão in the mid-nineteenth century. During the middle decades of the Brazilian Empire (1822–1889), São Luís was a prosperous port city organized around the export of sugar, tobacco, cacao, and cotton to major trading centers of the Atlantic world. Adelina participated in the region’s long-established tobacco sector by selling cigars (charutos) on the streets of São Luis as a wage-earning slave (female: ganhadeira; male: ganhador). The slave labor she performed peddling cigars earned her the nickname Charuteira (cigar vendor). Adelina was the daughter of an enslaved woman known as Boca da Noite and a wealthy slaveowner. Her biological father became impoverished and entered the local cigar trade to make ends meet.

Considering common characteristics of small property owners in Brazilian urban slave societies it is likely that Adelina s owner purchased ...

Article

Adhuu  

Trevor Hall

who was one of the first West Africans enslaved by the Portuguese in 1441, and transported by ship to Europe. He lived in Rio de Oro (modern-day Western Sahara). Information about his parents and marital status is not known; however, Adhuu was captured with a youth who may have been his relative. His reason for renown is that after he was enslaved in Portugal, he negotiated his freedom with Prince Henry the Navigator (1394–1460). Adhuu probably spoke Berber or Arabic, and communicated with Portuguese translators.

The Portuguese royal chronicler Gomes Eannes da Azurara witnessed Adhuu’s arrival in Portugal in 1441 Azurara said that Prince Henry had ordered Captain Antam Goncalves to sail from Portugal to West Africa and capture the first persons he found and transport them back to him Captain Goncalves sailed to Rio de Oro where he spotted human and camel tracks along the ...

Article

Born Nzinga Mbemba, Afonso I ascended the throne in 1506 after the death of his father, Nzinga a Nkuwu. Unlike his father, who had rejected Catholicism and limited contact with the Portuguese explorers, Afonso had been baptized as a Christian when the Kongo court converted in 1491. During his time as governor of Kongo's Nsundi province, Afonso entertained Portuguese priests and gained a reputation for Christian piety. When his father died, around 1590, Afonso returned to Mbanza Kongo, the capital, to seek the throne. His half brother, Mpanzu Kitima, raised a provincial army to remove Afonso from the capital. Afonso characterized the struggle as being between Christian and anti-Christian forces and later maintained that the Christians had won through the intervention of Saint James.

From the beginning of his reign Afonso sought to Christianize Kongo creating a financial base a school system a parish organization and a naturalized ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

leader of the Kongo kingdom, was born in the mid-fourteenth century. His birth name was Mvemba a Nzinga and he was the child of King João I Nzinga Nkuwu of Kongo and Nzinga a Nlaza, one of the king’s wives. When the Portuguese ship captain Diogo Cão first arrived in 1483, Afonso was a high-ranking officer in the kingdom. He consented to be baptized by Catholic missionaries. When a royal court faction opposed to Christianity arose after João I’s baptism in 1491, Afonso developed his authority in his own province of Nsundi. He allowed two Portuguese priests, Goncalve Vas and Rodrigue Anes, to live in his court.

Not surprisingly Portuguese missionaries and officials gave Afonso support especially after his father renounced Christianity In Nsundi Afonso used his privileged access to European trade goods to gain access to valuable high grade copper located north of the Congo River and ...

Article

Africa  

Martin A. Klein, John Thornton, Elias Mandala, Janet J. Ewald and Pamela Scully

[To survey the impact of slavery and slaving in pre- and postcolonial Africa, this entry comprises five articles, a general overview followed by four regional surveys that trace these practices in major parts of the continent in the postcolonial era:

An Overview

West Africa

Central Africa

East Africa

Southern Africa ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Ana Raquel Fernandes

Founded in 1807, in the wake of the abolition of the British slave trade, the African Institution replaced the Society for the Abolition of Slave Trade (1787) and had similar aims to the Sierra Leone Company (1791). Its purpose was to secure African freedom from British imperial rule, the ‘civilization’ of Africa through the dissemination of Christianity, and the establishment of profitable trade ventures that did not rely on slavery.

William Wilberforce, who had led the parliamentary campaign for the abolition of the slave trade, was one of its vice‐presidents. Other prominent abolitionists members of the Institution were Prince William Frederick (president of the Institution), James Stephen, who served as one of its vice‐presidents, Granville Sharp, one of its first directors, Zachary Macaulay, honorary secretary, Henry Thornton, its treasurer, Edward Henry Columbine who became a commissioner of the Institution ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

The phenomenon of African former slaves returning to their original homes has thus far not received the attention it deserves. Pierre Verger has done much work on the relationship between Brazil and West Africa, and several others have written on the subject. More needs to be done, however, to clarify the motivations and the influences that determined the former slaves’ attitudes and reactions on returning to their home areas.

This essay examines the attitudes, occupations, and contributions of Brazilian returnees to West Africa in the nineteenth century. Their stay in Brazil so affected them that they behaved more like Brazilians than Africans on the West African coast. For this reason, in this essay they are called “Brazilians.”

The term however is not completely accurate because the Brazilian communities included people of different origins some having had little or no connection with Brazil Some were men who had been former officials ...

Article

Afro-Colombians (Colombians of African descent) were invisible in the 1886 constitution that ruled Colombia for over 100 years. By 1990, after centuries of marginalization and discrimination, Afro-Colombian organizations emerged as a political force. They denounced implicit racial discrimination and demanded that the constitutional reform take ethnic identity into account without restricting their rights to equality. The black movement received support from representatives of indigenous groups and of the progressive left. Both groups had representatives in the Constitutional Assembly, formed in 1990 to rewrite the constitution.

Article

The African presence in the Caribbean was established during the first decade of the European explorations in the Americas. Nicholas Ovando, the Spanish governor, brought Negro slaves to Hispaniola in 1502, shipping them from Spain to this island where the first permanent Spanish settlement in the New World had been established. These Negro slaves who came to Hispaniola via Spain spoke Spanish and Arabic. That they were able to communicate in these two languages was more the rule than the exception, since the Moors had ruled Spain for six centuries, and Granada—the last of the Moorish strongholds—had fallen to the Spanish on January 2, 1492, a mere seven months before Columbus had set sail on his historic voyage In fact over those many centuries of enlightened Moorish rule the evolving Spanish and Portuguese cultures had constantly oscillated between Europe and Africa Therefore at the beginning of ...

Article

Yesenia Barragan

enslaved rebel in the province of Chocó in New Granada modern day Colombia was born in the late eighteenth century Agustina lived in the small town of Pueblo Viejo present day Tadó located south of Quibdó where she was the slave of Miguel Gómez Agustina was admired for her tremendous physical beauty and like all female slaves faced the danger of sexual assault by her master especially common among slaves who lived and worked in close quarters This was the case for Agustina who worked as a cook in addition to performing other household tasks Sometime in the late eighteenth century Agustina was raped and impregnated by Gómez Upon discovering her pregnancy Gómez demanded that Agustina abort the child immediately to avoid public scandal but she refused Abortion infanticide and refusal to abort were common forms of resistance employed by enslaved women to control their bodies and livelihoods Consequently Gómez ...