Africans in Latin America Contribution to Music , Dance, Religion and Universal Freedom
Africans in Latin America Before Columbus
The Olmec civilisation Friar Diego de Landa … , wrote that "some old men of Yucatan say that they have heard from their ancestors that this country was peopled by a certain race who came from the East, whom God delivered by opening for them twelve roads through the sea". This tradition is most interesting because it probably refers to the twelve migrations of the Olmec people. This view is supported by the stone reliefs from Izapa, Chiapas , Mexico published by the New World Foundation .In Stela 5, from Izapa we see a group of men on a boat riding the waves.(Wuthenau 1980; Smith 1984 ; Norman 1976) Clyde Winters
THE olMEC CIVILISATION (cont’d) According to Clyde Winters, a Stela (No.5), from Izapa confirms the tradition recorded by Friar Diego de Landa that the Olmec people made twelve migrations to the New World. Winters says that this stela also confirms the tradition recorded by the famous Mayan historian Ixtlixochitl, that the Olmec came to Mexico in "ships of barks " and landed at Pontochan, which they commenced to populate.(Winters 1984: 16) He adds, “These Blacks are frequently depicted in the Mayan books/writings carrying trade goods”. ________________________________________
Such journeys suggest that the ancients had knowledge of the sea routes across the Atlantic from Africa to the Americas
Olmec stone head The Olmecs must have had a high regard for art as many cave paintings & huge stone scullptures have been found, along with jade artefacts & statues. Typical Olmec art featured jaguars, thick-lipped soldiers and goatee-bearded men …
OLMEC stone head Bearing in mind the thick-lipped Africanoid features of these carvings, some researchers postulate that the Olmecs originally came from Africa, and indeed their language is very similar to that spoken today in Mali.
The contribution of African artistic tradition in the Americas (and the Caribbean) “It is now accepted that it is in music that African culture has shown its greatest degree of persistence in the New World” J.D. Elder “The New World Negroes Search for Identity”
The contribution of African culture to the Americas (and Caribbean) African Music and Dance, was maintained in a multitude of forms in the Caribbean and the Americas. African(and African influenced) music & dance has been the most prominent and viable artistic expression in the New World The dance and music is both Secular (popular Latin American ball- room dances) and religious (various African faiths)
The contribution of African artistic tradition in the Americas and Caribbean Why did the African music survive/evolve to such a high degree in the Caribbean? Music was associated with all the aspects of life and the rites of passage (birth, naming, adulthood, marriage, death) Music ( and dance) was also associated with resistance against the sufferings of the Africans
The artistic tradition in the Caribbean African Music and Resistance Resistance to slavery and cultural domination came through music. Africans adapted European music to suit their own needs. Several forms of folk music in South /Central America and the Spahish speaking Caribbean reflect the fusion of Africa and Europe
Some African Rhythms/Dances in the Americas Dominican Republic-Merengue, Bachata Cuba-Rumba Puerto Rican-Salsa, Bomba,Plena Colombia- Cumbia, Brazil- Samba Ecuador- Bomba del Chota River Plate region-Marimba music, candombe , murga Peru -Festejo, Landó, Panalivio, Socabón, Son de los Diablos, Toro Mata
Role of African/African syncretic religions Adaptation , new relations to the divine, changed world view, creation of social cohesion in changed circumstances Resistance to the norms and values of the ruling elite. Support for political and social resistance eg Haiti (Voodoo),Trinidad (the Spiritual baptists)
Africans and Universal Freedom Mexico
José Vasconcelos, “El negritopoeta” (mid-eighteenth century) Aunguesoy de razacongo,Yo no he nacidoafricano,Soy de naciónmejicano,Y nacido en almolonga.Although I am of the Congo raceI was not born AfricanI am of the Mexican nation and was born in Almolonga
Yanga (early 17th Century)
Slave rebellions in Mexico Prior to independence from Spain, there were numerous slave rebellions throughout the Americas, including in Mexico. The first documented slave rebellion in Mexico occurred in 1537; this was followed by the establishment of various runaway slave settlements called "palenques.“ Some rebellions were in alliance with Indians and mestizos even as far north as Chihuahua. In 1608, Spaniards negotiated the establishment of a free black community with Yagna, a runaway rebel slave. Today, that community in Veracruz bears its founder's name.
An African Leader Named Ñanga By the year 1609, the large numbers of escaped slaves had reduced much of rural Mexico to desperation, especially in the mountains in the state of Veracruz around the Pico de Orizaba. One of the largest of these groups was that of an African leader named Ñanga, now called "Yanga" who ruled a village in the mountainous area near Xalapa, Veracruz. In that year, the Viceroy of New Spain sent troops from Puebla to subjugate Yanga and his band of escaped slaves to Spanish rule. After eluding the detachment for several months, the Spanish commandante agreed to give Yanga's followers their freedom in exchange for ending the constant raids in the area, and gain their help in tracking down other escaped slaves.
Slave sanctuaries in Mexico Hidden from history is Mexico's role as a sanctuary to African American slaves during the 19th century. Unknown to even most historians, descendants of these slaves still live in Mexico. In the summer of 1850, the Mascogos, composed of runaway slaves and free blacks from Florida, along with Seminoles and Kikapus, fled south from the United States, to the Mexican border state of Coahuila. Accompanying the Seminoles were also 'Black Seminoles' -- slaves who had been freed by the tribe after battles against white settlers in Florida. The three groups eventually settled the town of El Nacimiento, Coahuila, where many of their descendants remain, including some of our distant relatives.
Towns with African Names in Mexico Many of the African roots in Veracruz have been forgotten, as well as the stories surrounding other communities with African names in the area, such as Mocambo, Matamba, Mozomboa, Mozambique, and Mandinga. There may be other little towns where the African names were removed and changed. In some cases, only the African names remain and their history is unknown
Towns with African Names in Mexico
Africans and Universal Freedom Brazil
GangaZumba, founder of the Quilombo dos Palmares He was given the Christian name ,João Angola When he escaped from slavery, João Angola received another name from the Portuguese, "GangaZumba" Alledgedly a corruption of "NgangaDzimba we Bahwe":
Quilombo of Palmares ,(formed between 1620 and 1653) Originally called “mocambo” Palmares was home to not only escaped black slaves, but also to mulattos, caboclos, Indians and poor whites, especially Portuguese soldiers trying to escape forced military service! WIKIPEDIA
Africans and Universal Freedom Venezuela
Pedro Camejo-El Negro Primero (1790-1821)
Africans and Universal Freedom Columbia
San Basilio de Palenque, Columbia
Palenquero, a Spanish based Creolein San Basilio de Palenque, Columbia
“Our ancestors survived capture in Africa, the passage by ship to Cartagena and were strong enough to escape and live on their own for centuries,”.
“We are the strongest of the strongest. No matter what happens, our language will live on within us.”
“Sebastián Salgado, school teacher.
Palenquero,a Spanish based Creolein San Basilio de Palenque, Columbia The survival of Palenquero points to the extraordinary resilience of San Basilio de Palenque, part of whose very name — Palenque — is the Spanish word for a fortified village of runaway slaves. Different from dozens of other palenques that were vanquished, this community has successfully fended off threats to its existence to this day.
Palenquero,a Spanish based Creolein San Basilio de Palenque, Columbia Palenquero is thought to be the only Spanish-based Creole language in Latin America. But its grammar is so different that Spanish speakers can understand almost nothing of it. Its closest relative may be Papiamento, spoken on the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, which draws largely from Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch, linguists say. It is spoken only in this village and a handful of neighborhoods in cities where workers have migrated.
San Basilio de Palenque, Columbia “Palenge a sendatielanngomberinduseibetuaya,”, (Palenque is the land of cattle, sweets and basic staples.) Sebastián Salgado, school teacher