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Showing posts with label African roots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label African roots. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

The African Influence in Latin America: A Historical Exploration

Africa's cultural influence in Latin America is profound and multi-faceted. The connections are traced back to the transatlantic slave trade, where millions of Africans were brought to Latin America, mainly in Brazil, Cuba, and Colombia.

African Roots in Music and Dance

In Brazil, the African rhythms were the seed for Samba and Bossa Nova, while in Cuba, the roots helped develop the Rumba and Son. African drums and traditional dances have become an essential part of Latin American cultural festivals.

Religious Syncretism

The fusion of African spiritual practices with Catholicism has led to unique religious expressions, such as Santería in Cuba and Candomblé in Brazil. These religions showcase the intricate blending of cultures and belief systems.

Culinary Influence

African culinary practices contributed to Latin American cuisine. The use of ingredients like coconut, yams, and various spices added to regional diets, leading to unique fusion dishes. Feijoada, Brazil's national dish, has strong African roots.

Language and Literature

Words with African origins found their way into Portuguese and Spanish. Writers like Nicolás Guillén have openly celebrated African heritage in their works, forging a literary bridge between the continents.

Art and Craftsmanship

African influences can be seen in Latin American crafts, such as textiles, pottery, and jewelry. This artistic merging has led to a distinctive visual aesthetic that resonates across the region.


The African influence in Latin America is an enduring reminder of our interconnected global history. It’s more than just a cultural footprint; it's a vibrant tapestry woven with threads of shared human experiences, triumphs, and tribulations.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

The African Roots of Popular Black American Slang

Language is a living entity, constantly evolving and adapting to the cultures and communities that shape it. In the vibrant tapestry of Black American culture, one can find a rich and unique linguistic heritage that draws upon diverse influences. While many assume that Black American slang solely originates from within the United States, there is a deeper story to be told. Unbeknownst to some, the roots of popular Black American slang trace back to the African continent, weaving a thread of connection across oceans and generations. In this blog post, we explore the fascinating origins of Black American slang and uncover the African influences that have shaped its vibrant lexicon.

Gullah Geechee: Preserving African Linguistic Traditions

One of the key linguistic influences on Black American slang can be traced to the Gullah Geechee culture of the southeastern coastal region of the United States. Descendants of West and Central African slaves, the Gullah Geechee people developed a distinct dialect that retained numerous African linguistic elements. Words such as "biddy" (meaning girl), "tote" (meaning carry), and "gumbo" (meaning okra soup) found their way into Black American slang, leaving a lasting imprint of African linguistic traditions.

African Diaspora: Linguistic Connections Across the Atlantic

The African diaspora, marked by the forced migration of Africans during the transatlantic slave trade, played a significant role in shaping the linguistic landscape of Black America. Enslaved Africans brought with them their native languages, which blended with English and other European languages over time. As a result, African words, syntax, and pronunciation merged with English, giving birth to unique expressions and slang that still resonate today.

African American Vernacular English (AAVE): A Language of Resilience

African American Vernacular English (AAVE), commonly known as Ebonics, represents a distinct linguistic variety that evolved within Black American communities. AAVE encompasses a diverse range of grammatical structures, intonations, and vocabulary, many of which have roots in African languages. Words like "fam" (derived from the West African term "fam" meaning family) and "lit" (inspired by the Nigerian Pidgin English word "lit" meaning exciting) have become ubiquitous in contemporary Black American slang.

Hip-Hop Culture: Bridging Past and Present

Hip-hop, a cultural movement that emerged in Black communities during the 1970s, has played a pivotal role in shaping Black American slang. From the lyrical stylings of influential artists like Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls to the rhythmic wordplay of poets like Langston Hughes, hip-hop has been a catalyst for the evolution and dissemination of Black American slang. By blending African-infused language with urban experiences, hip-hop artists have created a dynamic linguistic tapestry that resonates with people worldwide.


The African roots of popular Black American slang are deeply intertwined with the history, resilience, and creativity of Black communities. From the Gullah Geechee culture to the broader African diaspora, the influence of African languages and expressions is evident in the lexicon of Black American slang. This linguistic heritage serves as a testament to the enduring cultural connections between Africa and the African diaspora. By understanding and appreciating the African origins of Black American slang, we can celebrate the richness and diversity of Black culture while fostering a deeper sense of connection and unity.

Friday, June 30, 2023

Black Hair Chronicles: The African Roots of Braiding and Natural Hair Styles

Black hair is a universe unto itself, shaped by a rich tapestry of historical, cultural, and personal narratives. Each coil and twist tells a story; each style is a testament to a legacy that spans continents and centuries. From the intricate braiding techniques to the embrace of natural hair styles, black hair is not just about fashion - it's an embodiment of identity, resilience, and heritage.

In the heart of Africa, hair has always been a significant aspect of identity. Historically, hairstyles were a clear indicator of a person's clan, marital status, age, and even socio-economic status. Hairstyles were a language, unspoken but deeply understood. Intricate braiding techniques, passed down through generations, were not simply about creating eye-catching styles; they were a communal activity, a coming together of women in a circle of storytelling, advice sharing, and bonding.

Braids, in particular, carry a historical significance that is as intricate as their patterns. Braiding, known as 'plaiting' in some African communities, has been an integral part of African culture for over 5,000 years. Cornrows, box braids, and micro braids - these styles that we see adorning the heads of black women today have roots that dig deep into the African soil.

African societies understood the power of hair, and by extension, the power of black women. But with the onset of colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade, this power was threatened. Enslaved Africans were often forced to shave their heads, a brutal act of erasure. Yet, even in the face of such adversity, the resilient spirit of Africans prevailed. They continued to braid their hair, subtly weaving in patterns that served as escape maps, leading the way to freedom.

Fast forward to the 21st century, the natural hair movement has brought a renaissance of these ancient techniques. Black women across the globe are rejecting the pressure to conform to Western hair standards, choosing instead to embrace their natural textures. Afro, twist-outs, Bantu knots, and locs - these styles are a celebration of black beauty in its natural form, a reclamation of identity, and a nod to their roots.

The journey of black hair is a journey of resilience, resistance, and return. It's a narrative of black women standing tall, their heads adorned with crowns of curls and coils, each strand interwoven with stories of the past and dreams of the future. As we bask in the beauty of black hair, let us not forget the rich African roots that nourish it.

For every braid pattern that graces our heads, every afro that stands tall and proud, and every natural hair style that defies gravity, we remember. We remember the African roots of our hair journey, the strength of our ancestors, and the power that lies at the roots of our hair - the power of being unapologetically Black.