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Robert H. Gudmestad

Africanisms refer to African cultural and linguistic practices that survived the passage across the Atlantic Ocean, including language, music, dance, medicine, folk culture, food preparation, and many others. The extent to which enslaved Africans retained their culture was the subject of much debate in the twentieth century.

A sociologist rather than a historian first raised the question: in the early twentieth century E. Franklin Frazier doubted the persistence of African cultural forms in America. The anthropologist Melville Herskovits disagreed, arguing that significant numbers and types of Africanisms survived the Middle Passage. Sidney Mintz and Richard Price who both examined black activity in the Caribbean provided a more nuanced interpretation they believed that no single African American culture was transported intact to the Americas but rather that the Middle Passage was crucial to a reinvention of slave self identity Modern historians commonly believe that once slaves arrived in the Americas ...

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Kwasi Konadu

Ghanaian indigenous healer and blacksmith, was born in 1913, three years after an outbreak of yellow fever in the Gold Coast colony (present-day Ghana), to Yaw Badu of Nkoranza and Akosua Toa, into a Bono (Akan) family in Takyiman. Nana Donkor’s early years and socialization in a family of well-respected healers and blacksmiths were significant to his eventual vocation, for he engaged matters of spirituality and healing from a very early age, and his family nurtured and supported those interests.

Kofi Donkor’s path as a prominent healer was suggested by the very circumstances of his birth. After Kofi Donkor’s two elder sisters were born, the next five children died shortly after birth. This troubled Yaw Badu and Akosua Toa greatly, and so they consulted an obosom (pl. abosom a spiritual agent often viewed as a child of the Akan Creator Both parents made several ritual sacrifices and as ...

Article

Favelas  

Julio Cesar Pino

Favelas represent the plight and promise of the urban poor in Brazil. Although they can be found throughout the country, favelas are more numerous in Rio de Janeiro, once the nation's federal district (1889–1960) and still its second largest city. Shantytowns such as Rocinha and Jacarezinho have become an indelible part of the landscape of the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City). Other Brazilian metropolises—São Paulo, Salvador, Recife—have their own favelas, with populations numbering in the hundreds of thousands, but these settlements have not attained the political prominence or journalistic notoriety of the ones in Rio.

The favela is fundamentally different from inner city slums and tenements the type of poor people s housing prevalent in the developed world Tenements are usually rundown buildings owned by a landlord where the occupants pay rent Squatter settlements by contrast are units of self constructed housing built on terrain seized and ...

Article

The term female circumcision is commonly used to refer to surgical operations performed in over thirty African, Middle Eastern, and southeast Asian countries, by immigrants from those countries living elsewhere, and by physicians in Europe and the United States between roughly 1850 and 1950. As this geographic and historical range suggests, these operations take place in a wide range of cultural and historical contexts and can have very different meanings and effects. All involve the surgical modification of female genitals in some way, though this may range from relatively minor marking for symbolic purposes to the most radical operation, infibulation. Female circumcision varies widely even within Africa, where it is practiced across a band of the continent that includes parts of Mauritania, Senegal, gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger ...

Article

Eric Bennett

During times of slavery many African Americans maintained the spiritual view of health that had characterized their African ancestors. They believed that good health arose from harmony with nature and other people; poor health, from discord. Sickness could stem from either the curses of others, deviance from religious rectitude, or conflict with the natural environment. In the Caribbean and Latin America particularly, these beliefs combined with Roman Catholicism to produce syncretic religions, such as Vodou, Shango, and Curanderismo, all of which emphasize the supernatural essence of healing.

Slave culture regarded so called root doctors or witch doctors with high esteem and valued herbal cures such as mullen leaves camphor sulphur and multifarious roots Although some of these cures had value in a Western scientific sense many more reflected traditional beliefs One lockjaw remedy for example involved withdrawing the nail squeezing out the excess blood and then wrapping the ...

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Susan J. Covert and David McBride

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the health and medical treatment of African Americans from the slavery era through the nineteenth century The first article focuses on the diseases and epidemics that affected Colonial America while the second article discusses progress in African American healthcare despite discrimination in ...

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Kenyan poet and healer, was born in Mombasa, Kenya. He is the older brother of Abdilatif Abdalla and a cousin of the famous taarab singer Juma Bhalo, who recorded song versions of many of Ahmad Nassir’s poems. Nassir’s earliest poems were published in the newspaper Sauti ya Pwani. His poems next were anthologized by Lyndon Harries in Poems from Kenya (1966) . Nassir’s second anthology, Malenga wa Mvita: Diwani wa Ustadh Bhalo (1971) , was awarded the Kenyatta Prize for Literature, Kenya’s major literary award, in 1972. Nassir’s poetry is deeply religious and philosophical. While both of the anthologies of his poems contain poems on religious topics, his religious and philosophical concerns are most fully explored in his 457-verse narrative poem on moral virtue, Utenzi wa Mtu ni Utu (1979) . This work has been analyzed in detail by Kai Kresse who ...

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In Maria Lionza, a medium in trance invokes spirits of various origins. The invoked spirit possesses the medium, then responds to petitions of the faithful. This cult is utilitarian in nature: the spirits often prescribe cleansing rituals to eliminate evil and heal illnesses.

See also Venezuelan Religion African Elements in ...

Article

Anne Waliaula

revered Tanzanian Maasai laibon (prophet, diviner, healer, and ritual expert; an alternate form of his name is Mbatian), was the son of another famous Maasai laibon, Supeet, son of Kidongoi. Mbatiany’s grandfather Kidongoi is said to be the first laibon, an orphaned child who was raised by the Laiser clan of the Maasai, only to be found to possess extraordinary divination and healing power. Thus, Mbatiany’s laibon lineage began with the Kidongoi family who later formed their own clan or group of families known as the Inkidongi clan The sons of Kidongoi were Lesikireshu Sitonik and Supeet Supeet then became the father to Mbatiany Mako and Neelyang Very little is known about the other children of Supeet and even the female in Mbatiany s life The known sons of Mbatiany are Senteu Sendeyo and Lenana Olonana Other children are not mentioned probably because they did not have ...

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Obeah  

Much confusion and mystery surround the practice of Obeah, and this itself is indicative of the situations under which it has been practiced. The term Obeah is used for the practice itself for the men and women that perform it and for the objects or charms that are used In the broadest sense Obeah is a spiritual practice designed to bring about some desired outcome thus it is a form of magic or sorcery Obeah is not an organized religion it has no recognized places of public worship no organized community of worshippers and no publicly recognized priests or priestesses Instead Obeah involves a private one on one meeting between an Obeahman or Obeahwoman and his or her client who has a specific goal to reach or problem to be solved Solutions may involve influencing the actions or feeling of a third person as in encouraging a former lover ...

Article

Arthur de Araójo Pereira Ramos is considered one of the most prestigious disciples of Raimundo Nina Rodrigues. Ramos represents the renaissance of Afro-Brazilian studies, which had been dormant for years after the death of Nina Rodrigues. He dedicated himself to rescuing and reediting the work of Nina Rodrigues, by directing the Biblioteca de Divulgação Científica in the 1930s.

Arthur Ramos was born in the northeastern state of Alagoas, and did his secondary studies at the Colégio São João and the Liceu Alagoano in Maceió, the capital of the state of Alagoas. He then moved to Bahia in order to attend the Medical School of Bahia. He graduated from medical school in 1926 and his interest in psychiatry took him to the Hospital São João de Deus in the city of Salvador the following year He also worked at the Instituto Nina Rodrigues as a forensic doctor ...