The Tie That Binds PPT1

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					    The Tie That Binds:
“Africanisms”, Cultural Retentions, and
“Survivalisms” in the African Diaspora

  Professor Joseph D. McNair
      School of Education
Miami-Dade Community College
  The tie that binds the
  respective cultures of
Africans in the diaspora is
        What are Africanisms?
• Cultural retentions, “Africanisms”, and
  “survivalisms” are terms used to describe the
  cultural connections of Africans in the diaspora
  to Africa
• These are found in food, folkways, music, dance,
  religion, ritual, language and style of creativity
  among the many areas where this connection is
         Cultural Retentions in
          the United States:
            The Louisiana Example
• No American state offers more powerful examples
  of African cultural retentions than the state of
• In 1719, two hundred Africans were brought to
  New Orleans one year after its so-called founding.
• African people had the skills and knowledge to
  make the newest French colony viable (Hall,
      The Louisiana Example
• The French deliberately brought people from
  Senegambia because of the similarities of the
  Senegal valley to the Mississippi valley,
• They specifically instructed the captains of the
  slave ships to “[…bring…] several blacks who
  knew how to cultivate rice" and also bring "three
  or four barrels of rice for seeding which they were
  to give to the Company upon arrival in Louisiana."
• Rice became the most successful food crop to be
  cultivated in the new French colony.
      The Louisiana Example
• “Nkombo,” the west African word for okra, is the
  root for the modern term gumbo. Jambalaya and
  gumbo share similarities to West African dishes
  such as dchebuchin, which are common to the
  Senegambian home of many enslaved African
  brought to the colony.
• In Louisiana red beans and rice are a staple, not
  unlike the Jamaican peas and rice, or Bahamian
  pidgin peas and rice or Cuban black beans and
  rice, despite slight variations in preparation, they
  are essentially the same dish.
       The Louisiana Example
• Greens are edible leaves that are usually cooked
  before being eaten. In Louisiana as in the rest of
  African America, a good pot of greens is often the
  centerpiece of classic “soul food” spreads.
• Sub-Saharan African cuisine features more greens
  than any other region in the world. The “greens”
  family (in Africa and the Americas) includes
  leaves of bitterleaf, calalu, cassava, collards, kale,
  kontomire, mustard, njamma-jamma, soko, tete,
  swiss chard, taro, and turnip, to name a few.
        The Louisiana Example
• Africa is a continent of great rivers: the Congo
  (which is the only major river to cross the equator
  twice), the (great gray-green, greasy) Limpopo (as
  Rudyard Kipling called it), the Niger, the Nile, the
  Orange, and the Zambezi, to name a few.
• Some of the world's great lakes are in Africa: for
  example, Kivu, Nyasa (Malawi), Tanganyika, and
  Victoria. Africa's coastline climate, with the
  Atlantic ocean on the west and the Indian ocean
  on the east, ranges from Mediterranean, to tropical
  and equatorial, to temperate.
        The Louisiana Example
• For certain African peoples, fishing and gathering
  various freshwater or saltwater species has been
  an important source of food for millennia. One
  notable feature of African cooking as well as
  Louisiana and Carribiean cooking is the use of fish
  and shrimp that have been preserved by drying,
  salting, or smoking.
• Louisiana’s fish dishes have much in common
  with African dishes such as fish and greens, dongo
  dongo, fish in banana leaf and the hundreds of
  varieties of African fish stews.
        The Louisiana Example
• Meat is any food derived from animal flesh,
  except fish or fowl. In Africa, meat is mostly beef
  from cattle or wild game (bush meat), though
  goats and lamb are also kept and eaten.
• Certain African peoples have kept cattle since
  ancient times. Keeping cattle may have begun in
  the Rift Valley of Kenya and Tanzania in the 1st
  millennium BC. The Maasai people of Eastern
  Africa and Fulani of Nigeria may be Africa's most
  famous cattle-keepers.
       The Louisiana Example
• Today, cattle are most common in Eastern,
  Southern, and Western Africa. Where people do
  not keep livestock the traditional meat is bush
  meat, i.e., wild game, which can be anything from
  antelope to zebra.
• Barbeques and other processes for roasting meats
  in Louisiana, meat stews (especially those hevy
  with tomato sauces ) are similar to African suyas
  and kabobs, and meat and green dishes.
       The Louisiana Example
• Chickens were first domesticated in Asia around
  1000 BC, and were raised in Ancient Egypt.
• When they first arrived in Africa is unknown, but
  they are common throughout Africa as in the rest
  of the world.
• Every culture has its own way of cooking chicken:
  one of the classic methods of preparing chicken in
  Africa is to stew it in a peanut and tomato sauce.
       The Louisiana Example
• Another delicious African chicken dish is Poulet
  Yassa, which is chicken marinated in an onion-
  mustard mixture..
• While the most popular way of preparing chicken
  in Louisiana among African Americans is to fry it,
  creative African American cooks and chefs have
  used a great number of ingredients reminiscent of
  their African past
• The “jerk” spices and preparation so uniquely
  Jamaican are used to the same effect.
       The Louisiana Example
• Processionals are an integral part of African
  culture and, in New Orleans, the second line is the
  archetypal expression of celebration.
• The second line is usually associated, outside of
  the area, with the Jazz Funeral tradition, which is
  only one place where it occurs.
• There are a variety of first lines -- marching clubs,
  Mardi Gras Indian gangs, funerals, brass bands,
  and a variety of other, some newly created,
        The Louisiana Example
• The name, “Second Line”, describes the
  followers of the first line. These are the drummers,
  dancers and others who follow the primary
  activity and give it support. The second line and
  its reflection of Louisiana's Senegambian
  connection links us to a processional dance called
  the Saba.
• The line's movement is full of improvisation, a
  characteristic that links it to the processional
  formats of the Rara and Junkanoo traditions of
  the Caribbean and the Samba societies of Brazil.
        The Louisiana Example
• Many religious traditions, even among European
  Americans in certain areas, are tied to the cultural
  practices of West Africa.
• Ring shouts, possessions (“shouting” among the
  Baptist, COGIC and other groups), dance,
  drumming and speaking-in-tongues (ecstatic
  speech) are features of African religions.
• One may view Vodun and its variants e.g.
  Umbanda, Quimbanda or Candomble as part of
  this aspect of a massive cultural Diaspora that has
  survived despite efforts to suppress it.
        The Louisiana Example
• In parts of Northern Louisiana and Southern
  Arkansas the “Easter Rock” tradition is found.
• Easter Rock uses a modified ring ritual that is
  also found in other parts of the southeastern U.S. -
  Georgia, the Carolinas, and many of the Caribbean
• The Easter Rock ceremony is held on the eve of
  Easter Sunday. In this ritual the elders sing some
  of the old traditional spirituals such as “Oh, When
  the Saints Go Marching In” and “King David.”
       The Louisiana Example
• The songs are sung in a chant-like manner, as the
  participants move counterclockwise with circular
  rocking movements around a table placed in the
  middle of the church floor.
• Long-meter hymns such as "I Know the Lord Will
  Answer Prayer" and "I Love the Lord, He Heard
  My Cry" are also very prominent in the context of
  the Easter Rock. The congregants dress in white,
  and the leader carries a circular banner
  representing the cross.
       The Louisiana Example
• The table is decorated with a white tablecloth, and
  twelve lamps and twelve cakes, representing the
  twelve disciples and twelve tribes of Israel. The
  Easter eggs on the table symbolize new birth.

• Throughout the state of Louisiana there are
  “Spirit Houses” that represent the diversity of
  West African survivals that are considered a part
  of so-called mainstream traditions.
        The Louisiana Example
• Other indicators are also found throughout the
• the finding of an egg with pins stuck into the
  shell. This is similar to, but an obvious adaptation
  of, a ritual device known as an nkisi (usually a
  figure or object that is pierced with nails or bits of
  metal whose purpose is to be a vessel and
  functions as an avatar used to contain pain or evil).
        The Louisiana Example
• Other items, such as a cowrie shell and blue
  beads indicate the continuance of certain cultural
  traits through these items which are representative
  of African material culture.
• The cowrie has a variety of uses. In addition to its
  use as money, it is also found in the making of
  nkisi and other icons.
• Bottles can be found placed around graves in new
  Orleans cemeteries and appear in African
  American community burial sites throughout the
       The Louisiana Example
• Bottles have been used as spirit vessels and, even
  in this new millennium, can be found hanging
  from trees and adorning graves.
• graves with silver dimes embedded in wood
  placed atop them.
• These practices are also related to Bakongo or
  Kongo practices evident throughout the African
        The Louisiana Example
• Africanity is so woven so deeply into everyday
  American life that it is taken for granted and
  sometimes considered mainstream.
• If there is poetic justice, it lies in the fact that these
  cultural retentions had the strength and resilience
  to survive outright attempts to erase the cultures
  from which they came from history and, in doing
  so, became a dominant creative influence on the
  various cultures in the state of Louisiana and
Vodun is sometimes
called Voodoo,
Vodoun, Vodou.
Religions related to
Vodun are:
Lucumi, Macumba,
and Ifa.

The name is
traceable to an
African word for
• Vodun's can be directly traced to the West African
  Yoruba people who lived in 18th and 19th
  century Dahomey and Nigeria.
• Its roots may go back 6,000 years in Africa. That
  country occupied parts of today's Togo, Benin and
  Nigeria. Slaves brought their religion with them
  when they were forcibly shipped to Haiti and other
  islands in the West Indies.
• Vodun was actively suppressed during colonial
  times. Many Priests were either killed or
  imprisoned, and their shrines destroyed, because
  of the threat they posed to Euro-Christian/Muslim
• This forced some of the Dahomeans to form
  Vodou Orders and to create underground societies,
  in order to continue the veneration of their
  ancestors, and the worship of their powerful
• Vodun was formally recognized as Benin's official
  religion in 1996. It is also followed by a
  substantial number of the adults in Haiti. It can be
  found in many of the large cities in North
  America, particularly in the American South.
• Today over 60 million people practice Vodun
  worldwide. Religions similar to Vodun can be
  found in South America where they are called
  Umbanda, Quimbanda,Candomble and
came to America
(North and South) with
Yoruba slaves. Today
its most visible
expressions are Afro-
Cuban Santeria and the
various Afro-Brazilian
cults such as Bahian
While Brazil has the
greatest number of orisha
worshippers - 30 million
- it is Santeria that has
attained the most
widespread influence.
In the United States,
people from many
different backgrounds are
presently practicing
Santeria. The Orisha
Movement is headed by
Baba Raul Canizares.
• Santeria is a syncretistic religion of Caribbean
  origin. It incorporates the worship of the Orisha
  (literally "head guardian") and beliefs of the
  Yoruba and Bantu people in Southern Nigeria,
  Senegal and Guinea Coast. These are combined
  with elements of worship from Roman

• Its origins date back to the slave trade when
  Yoruba natives were forcibly transported from
  Africa to the Caribbean.
• They were typically baptized by the Roman
  Catholic church upon arrival, and their native
  practices were suppressed.
• They developed a novel way of keeping their old
  beliefs alive by equating the each Orisha of their
  traditional religions with a corresponding
  Christian Saint.
• Many traditions within the religion recognize
  different equivalencies. One common example
• Shango became St. Barbara (controls thunder,
  lightning, fire...)
• Elegba became St. Anthony (controls roads, gates
• Obatala became Our Lady of Las Mercedes, and
  the Resurrected Christ (father of creation; source
  of spirituality)
• Ogun became St. Peter (patron of war)
• Oshun became Our Lady of Charity (controls
  money, sensuality...)
• Regla de Ocha (The Rule of the Orisha) is the
  proper name for this religion. Ocha is an
• Santeria (The Way of the Saints) is the common,
  popular name.
• Lukumi is also used; it is related to a Yoruba
  word meaning "friend". It is used to refer to both
  the religion and the practitioners of Afro-
  Cuban worship of the Orishas.
• Candomble Jege-Nago is its Brazilian name. The
  religion is divided into in various traditions,
  reflecting the different nations of origin: (Angola,
  Efan, Fon, Ijesa, Ketu, etc.).
• Macumba is sometimes used as a synonym for
  Santeria. In fact, Macumba is a derogatory word
  used to refer to a supposedly evil form of
• Aborisha is a term that refers to both the worship
  of the Orisha, and to the individual worshiper.
          A Celebration of Africanity
• Where there is Carnival, you find the creative
  presence of the African.
• In Rio, you have African and Portuguese, in New
  Orleans and in Port of Spain you have African and
• It is also present throughout Hispanophone
  America, where African energy is expressed now
  through an Hispanic voice.
• The one constant in all of these variations of
  carnival is an African presence.
In the Bahamas,
Carnival is known
by another name
... Junkanoo.
Junkanoo is
known also in
Bermuda, where
again it is an
African engine
that propels this
form of cultural
expression ...
• In Jamaica, Junkanoo is being revived by the
  import of Trinidad-style carnival.
• Even in North America, few people are aware that
  Junkanoo was celebrated. One can only speculate
  as to why Junkanoo died out in North Carolina
  and other parts of the American South;
• Everywhere in the New World where Africa is
  found, we also find carnival, or carnival by some
  other name such as junkanoo, or "crop-over" (its
  Barbadian form).
• At Carnival one finds costumed bands. The
  celebrations are largely held outdoors, rather than
  indoors. A close analog is the African (Yoruba)
  “Egungun” festival.
• In the Egungun festival, during which every
  extended family honors its collective ancestors, all
  the members of an extended family lineage wear
  the same colors, thus constituting a “band,” which
  is the defining feature of the carnivals of New
  Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, Port of Spain, and others.
• From the Egungun celebration also comes a the
  practice of throwing talcum powder on fellow
  masqueraders, from which comes the (Trinidad)
  expression -- "you can't play mas' and 'fraid
• The Egungun festival is at root a religious festival,
  at which ancestral possession is invited; celebrants
  who become possessed are covered with powder
  to show outwardly that the celebrant is no longer
  himself, his or her bodily vehicle having been
  possessed by an ancestral spirit.
Carnival is an African expression,
whether directly out of West Africa via
the slave trade, or indirectly out of
Africa. Go to any one of the modern
carnivals, The sounds you hear, and
the vibrations you feel, clearly, are
"out of Africa."
•This Brazilian art could best
be described in two words as
pushing and dancing.
•Capoeira uses musical bows,
which are percussive string
instruments, to set a tempo
which disciplines the
movements of two dancers
who combat each other in a
highly ritualized and graceful
The musical bow is
a much quieter
instrument than a
drum and can be
quickly made from
a flexible green
tree limb, a length
of string or cord, a
small stone, a
gourd and a
striking stick.
• The sound is percussive rather than melodic.
  Perhaps the roots of this pushing and dancing
  martial art lay in trying to keep traditional combat
  skills honed with no weapons available and drums
• Such intensely purposeful dancing, performed by
  a master, would surely bring about the attention of
  planters, but not necessarily their comprehension
  of what the dance was representing.
• Early Angolan and Kongolese warriors in Africa
  also had a form of "Pushing and Dancing."
• Hand-to-hand combat was still a viable military
  skill in the eighteenth century, though finally
  being superannuated by firearms -- for which,
  noted the feared warrior Queen Njinga, "there was
  no remedy."
• Kongolese and Angolan techniques of unarmed
  combat were learned in the form of a martial art
  set in time to drum music. In short, the skills were
  encoded in a form of dance.
• This specialized form of dance, called sanga in the
  Kikongo language, and sanguar in Ndongo,
  valued hand-to-hand combat skills, the use of
  sticks and other weapons, as well as "the ability to
  twist, leap, and dodge to avoid arrows or the
  blows of opponents."
• The skills, which brought renown to the imbare,
  were displayed at public exhibitions which
  impressed not only Africans, but Portuguese,
  Italian and Dutch observers as well.
• The Americas, however, were rife with evidence
  of its retention. Ritualized stick fighting and
  dancing like that found in Central Africa persisted
  all over the "new world."
• One of these dances, called “kalinda” was a
  highlight of Caribbean slave festivals. Brazilian
  slaves may have kept their unarmed combat skills
  honed in capoeira. A related martial art/dance
  form, maculelê, existed alongside capoeira in
• What is creolization? According to Richard Cullen
  Rath , creolization is a way of forming a “native”
  identity in a situation e.g. a new country, where
  there is no natal society (literally the society
  where one was born and belongs.)
• The process takes place in the descendants of
  forcibly displaced immigrant populations when
  the immigrants were drawn from more than one
  location (as Africans were drawn from all over the
  continent, and speaking many different languages
  and dialects).
• First-generation immigrants, the ones forcibly
  displaced, undergo pidginization, a more tenuous
  and provisional process of negotiating linguistic
  and cultural practices in the face of multiple native
• Children born into these groups, situations where
  there is no consensual identity, are expected to
  take an “unstable polyglot cultural inheritance”
  and create stable creole identities from it.
• If and when natural increase -- births within the
  new communities -- overtakes forced immigration
  as the chief means of sustaining the population,
  then the process of creolization affects the whole
  society, changing it from a heterogenous group to
  a creole culture.
• Creole languages and cultures are most often
  associated with a legacy of slavery, which
  produced the harsh and disruptive conditions
  necessary for their formation.
              And Finally….
• All over the African diaspora we see the effects of
  the creolization process.
• We see it the various creolizations of language e.g.
  Kreol, patois, broken english, ebonics and
• We see it manifest in the various “styles of living”
  created by the African to adapted to the challenges
  of living in the so-called “New world.”
• That Africanisms persists suggest that they are a
  part of deeper levels of values and belief can
  survive the exigencies of slavery and oppression.
Internet References
Christopher I Ejizu “Conversion In African Traditional Religion”
Grisso “The African and Spiritual Origins of Carnival”
Joyce Marie Jackson “Like a River Flowing with Living Water: Worshiping in the
Mississippi Delta”
Paul E. Lovejoy “The African Diaspora: Rivisionist Interpretations of Ethnicity,
Culture and Religion under Slavery”
Richard Cullen Rath “Drums and Power: Ways of Creolizing Music in Coastal South
Carolina and Georgia, 1730-1790.
John R. Rickford “ The Creole Origins of African American Vernacular English:
Evidence from copula absence ofAAVE.html
Charles E. Siler “A Commentary: African Cultural Retentions in Louisiana”
Various Recipes from the “Congo Cook Book”
Vodun and Related Religions
Welcome to the Caribbean

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