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Article

Carlos Franco Liberato and Martha I. Pallante

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the African diaspora, from the origins of slave trade through nineteenth-century America. The first article focuses on the evolution and criticism of the diaspora, while the second article focuses on the cultural effects of this forced transatlantic migration.]

Article

Jeremy Rich

writer and escaped slave, was born probably in 1824 in the town of Djougou located in what is now northern Benin Djougou was an important trading town with close commercial connections to the kingdom of Dahomey to the south and the sultanate of Nupe to the east Baquaqua s family which spoke Dendi as their first language was deeply involved in long distance trade His mother was originally from the Hausa speaking town of Katsina far to the east of Djougou while his father claimed Arab descent He probably spoke Hausa as well as the Arabic he learned in qurʾanic school Baquaqua traveled on caravans to the east and west of Djougou at the behest of his father However he did not want to follow his father s wish that he become a Muslim scholar so he stayed with one of his maternal uncles a well connected Hausa trader ...

Article

African American food, known as soul food, is closely related to the cuisines of both Africa and the American South. African slaves brought many of their native fruits and vegetables to the Americas, including Yams, watermelon, okra, and several varieties of beans, all of which were soon adopted into the diets of their owners. Slaves who were taken into the plantation owner's house as cooks and household servants learned to combine their own food with their masters' food. African American cuisine also grew out of the slaves' resourcefulness in using the cast-off ingredients of the master's meals. For example, they developed methods to cook parts of the pig not eaten by their owner's family, feasting on the snout, ears, feet, tail, ribs, thighs (hocks), stomach (maw), and small intestines (which when boiled and fried are known as chitterlings, or “chitlins”).

The West African diet featured starchy foods such as ...

Article

Gullah  

The Gullah, descendants of slaves from in West Africa, have occupied the Sea Islands off the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia coasts since the late 1600s. The relative isolation of the islands has preserved the cultural traditions of the inhabitants. Although mainstream American culture has encroached on Gullah communities in modern times, the communities—small farming and fishing villages—still exist today.

Slave-owning planters brought West Africans to the Sea Islands because of the skill these Africans had in the cultivation of rice. The slaves' knowledge and methods, in fact, greatly influenced rice-growing practices in South Carolina. Harsh conditions of life in the Sea Islands kept white settlement low, so that by the late eighteenth century, more than 70 percent of the population was black. In November 1861, at the dawn of the Civil War plantation owners on the Sea Islands fled as United States Navy ships approached This ...

Article

Krotoa  

Julia Wells

Khoikhoi interpreter and trader at the first Dutch East India Company settlement at the Cape of Good Hope (present-day South Africa), was also known as Eva. Nothing is known of her parents or place of birth, except that her mother lived with a neighboring clan and showed hostility toward Krotoa, who was separated from her sister in infancy. When the Dutch landed on 7 April 1652, Krotoa lived with her uncle, Autshumao, leader of the Goringhaicona people. For several decades, Autshumao ran a postal service for passing ships of various countries. His people lived in the Table Bay area as hunter-gatherers of shellfish, in contrast to neighboring Khoikhoi groups who were itinerant pastoralists. When the Dutch landed and started to construct buildings, the Goringhaicona lived next door and often worked for tobacco, food, and drink.

From roughly the age of twelve Krotoa lived in the household of Jan Van ...

Article

Creoles are neither corrupted nor substandard versions of European languages, but are full-fledged languages in their own right and are regularly spoken in several countries, including Guadeloupe and Haiti. This essay discusses the development and use of creole languages in the Caribbean, along with the social and cultural factors that influence their evolution. In particular, it considers Guadeloupean and Martiniquais creole, Haitian creole, and Papiamentu creole.

Article

Lynne Macedo

Novel by Jane Austen in which the wealth and status of the Bertram family is underpinned by oblique references to their ownership of a slave plantation in Antigua. Mansfield Park (1814 is set in a large country estate in Nottinghamshire Its narrative revolves around Sir Thomas Bertram the owner of Mansfield Park and his extended family Bertram is characterized by an over reliance upon a value system of order and emotional distancing that falls apart with disastrous consequences when challenged The Bertram household consists of his wife and four children his sister in law Mrs Norris and one of his nieces Fanny Price Fanny has been taken in by the Bertrams owing to her family s poverty and in contrast to Sir Thomas she embodies compassion warm emotions and sensibility Although he is central to the plot Sir Thomas is largely absent from Mansfield Park owing to his ...

Article

William R. Nash

which won the 1990 National Book Award for Fiction, marks the culmination of Charles R. Johnson's philosophical exploration and formal innovation to date. Taking the form of ship's log entries, the novel recounts the adventures of Rutherford Calhoun, a freed slave from Illinois who relocates to New Orleans and leads a hedonistic life financed by petty thievery. While there, Rutherford becomes involved with two powerful figures: Isadora Duncan, the proper schoolmistress who treats Rutherford much like her adopted stray animals, and Philippe “Papa” Zeringue, a Creole gangster to whom Rutherford becomes indebted. Isadora learns of and buys Rutherford's debts; in return Zeringue helps her attempt to force Calhoun into marriage. Desperate to escape both oppressors, Rutherford stows away aboard the Republic, unwittingly choosing a slave ship in which Zeringue holds a partial interest.

Aboard the Republic Rutherford is torn between the disparate influences of evil ...

Article

Erin D. Somerville

Archetypal colonial novel by Daniel Defoe first published in 1719. Friday, a noble savage enslaved by Crusoe, is often read along with The Tempest's Caliban as the first fictional account of a colonized person.

The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner is based on the true story of the shipwrecked seaman Alexander Selkirk, who related his experience to Defoe after returning to England in 1712. In Defoe's story Robinson Crusoe is a middle class Englishman who decides to find adventure on the sea rather than obey his father s wish to study law A trip on a merchant ship turns to disaster when Moorish pirates capture Crusoe s vessel and he is sold into slavery in North Africa He and a young slave Xury escape their captors and sail to freedom along the African coast where Crusoe eventually buys his ...

Article

Roots  

Roger A. Berger

This 1976 Alex Haley novel narrates a seven-generation story about his own family. It begins with the birth of West African Kunta Kinte, Haley's maternal great-great-great-great-grandfather, and ends with Haley's own research and dramatic discoveries about his genealogy. Because it purports to be the first African American text to definitively locate an African ancestor and because of two widely watched television miniseries—“Roots” (1977) and “Roots: The Next Generations” (1979)—loosely based on the novel, the book became an immensely popular cultural phenomenon. In 1977Roots received a special citation Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

Haley termed the narrative strategy in Roots faction While Roots is based on what he claims is factual material Haley fictionalizes and enhances the story adding imagined dialogue and incidents to flesh out the story and relay the horrific nature of American slavery The first half of the novel focuses ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Africanwriter whose letters, published posthumously in 1782, became best‐seller, attracting 1,181 subscribers including the Prime Minister, Lord North.

Sancho was born on board a slave ship en route to the West Indies. His mother died soon after, of a tropical disease, and his father chose to commit suicide rather than endure slavery. Sancho was brought to England by his master, at the age of 2 or 3, and given to three maiden sisters living in Greenwich. The sisters named him Sancho, thinking he resembled Don Quixote's squire. They kept him in ignorance, not teaching him to read or write. He was rescued by the Duke of Montagu who lived nearby in Blackheath The Duke encountering the boy by accident took a liking to his frankness of manner and frequently took him home where the Duchess introduced him to the world of books and of high culture He ...

Article

Slavery  

Sylvie Kandé

Slavery, a marginal feature, institution, or mode of production of a social organization whereby individuals are defined as outsiders, stripped of their basic rights (including their reproductive capacities), commodified, and coerced to work either for other individuals or for political or economic corporations, has existed in most regions of the world. Yet the scope, duration, and variety of forms of enslavement to which Africans have been subjected throughout history have turned slavery into a major component of the African experience on the continent as well as in the diaspora.

Domestic Slavery (African Internal Slavery). Ancient Egypt was long presumed to be one of the earliest examples of state use of large scale coerced labor most notably for monumental building projects In a context of generalized serfdom and in the absence of a slave market foreigners deported to Egypt during the great conquests were specialists such as Nubian archers or ...

Article

John Gilmore

Poet born in Jamaica, the son of John and Dorothy Williams, who were free black people. John Williams was a former slave who had been freed by the will of his master, Colonel John Bourden (a prominent local figure who died in 1697), and who subsequently became a successful merchant, whose activities included moneylending on an extensive scale, and trade between Jamaica and Britain.

As a young man, Francis Williams lived in Britain, possibly for several years, and may have been entrusted with the British end of his father's business concerns. On 8 August 1721 he was admitted as a member of Lincoln s Inn while there is no evidence to suggest that he was ever called to the Bar or practised as a lawyer the Inns of Court often functioned in this period as a sort of finishing school for young men of gentlemanly status who ...

Article

Douglas H. Johnson

Sudanese slave who reversed the missionary process by becoming an African evangelist in England. Born Atobhil Macar Kathiec among the Gok Dinka of Sudan, he was captured by slavers, freed by the Egyptian army, and subsequently employed by the missionary Charles Wilson. Educated, baptized, and confirmed in England, Wilson joined abortive missions to the Congo and Tripoli in 1887–8 and 1893, but most of his missionary efforts were undertaken with the Methodists in England, where he become known as ‘the Black Evangelist of the North’. Settling in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, he married his landlady in 1913, an event filmed by the local cinema. He was a popular figure in the town, where he lived until his death.

Wilson produced three books about his life and the Dinka He wrote positively about Dinka religiosity and traced his own awareness of God to the beliefs and prayers of his people ...