How did West African culture influence African-Americans and American culture in general?
- connieLv 74 years agoFavorite Answer
African-American music is rooted in the typically polyrhythmic music of the ethnic groups of Africa, specifically those in the Western, Sahelean, and Sub-Saharan regions. The African pedigree of African-American music is evident in some common elements: call and response, syncopation, percussion, improvisation, swung notes, blue notes, the use of falsetto, melisma, and complex multi-part harmony.
African-American literature has its roots in the oral traditions of African slaves in America. The slaves used stories and fables in much the same way as they used music. These stories influenced the earliest African-American writers and poets in the 18th century such as Phillis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano. These authors reached early high points by telling slave narratives.
The Black Arts Movement, a cultural explosion of the 1960s, saw the incorporation of surviving cultural dress with elements from modern fashion and West African traditional clothing to create a uniquely African-American traditional style. Kente cloth is the best known African textile. These festive woven patterns, which exist in numerous varieties, were originally made by the Ashanti and Ewe peoples of Ghana and Togo. Other manifestations of traditional African dress in common evidence in African-American culture are vibrant colors, mud cloth, trade beads and the use of Adinkra motifs in jewelry and in couture and decorator fabrics.
There is a small but growing number of African Americans who participate in African traditional religions, such as West African Vodun, Santería, Ifá and diasporic traditions like the Rastafari movement. Some African-American couples choose to "jump the broom" as a part of their wedding ceremony. Although the practice, which can be traced back to Ghana, fell out of favor in the African-American community after the end of slavery, it has experienced a slight resurgence in recent years as some couples seek to reaffirm their African heritage.
The West African influence was particularly strong in the cuisine of the Lowcountry of South Carolina, where, long before the rise of cotton farming, a rice economy dependent upon enslaved labor ensured that West Africans were present in large numbers from the early days of the colony. Cowpeas and black-eyed peas, okra, greens, watermelon, yams — these were all staples of the West African diet, as were sorghum and sesame (or benne), too. Carolinians use many African cooking techniques, too: one-pot cooking, stews, gumbos, thickening with okra or nuts. West African cooks prepared greens by laying meat on top, and using smoked meats as seasoning.
Traditional African food culture has been preserved even today in many areas of American cuisine, as in the technique of deep fat frying, southern stews (gumbos), and nut stews. Okra, tania, Blackeyed peas, kidney and lima bean were all brought on slave ships as food gathered in Africa for the Africans during the transatlantic voyage. Fufu, a traditional African meal throughout the continent, was eaten from the Senegambia to Angola and was assimilated into American culture as “turn meal and flour” in South Carolina. Corn bread prepared by African slaves was similar to the African millet bread.
The first major contribution by Africans to North American society was in the arena of cattle raising. When the Fulani (or Fula) people from Senegambia, along with longhorn cattle, were imported to South Carolina in 1731, colonial herds increased from 500 to 6,784 some 30 years later. These Fulas were expert cattlemen and were responsible for introducing African husbandry patterns of open grazing now practiced throughout the American cattle industry. Cattle drives to the centers of distribution were innovations Africans brought with them as contributions to a developing industry. Originally a cowboy was an African who worked with cattle, just as a houseboy worked in “de big House.” Open grazing made practical use of an abundance of land and a limited labor force. Africans and their descendants were America’s first cowboys. Much of the early language associated with cowboy culture had a strong African flavor. The word buckra (buckaroo) is derived from Mbakara, the Efik/lbibio work for “poor white man.” It was used to describe a class of whites who worked as broncobusters, bucking and breaking horses. Planters used buckras as broncobusters because slaves were too valuable to risk injury. Another African word that found its way into popular cowboy songs is “get along little dogies.” The word “doggies” originated from Kimbundu, along with kidogo, a little something, and dodo, small. After the Civil War when great cattle roundups began, Black cowboys introduced such Africanisms to cowboy language and songs.
In the area of folklore, Brer Rabbit, Brer Wolf, Brer Bear, and Sis’ Nanny Goat were part of the folklore the Wolof brought by way of the Hausa, Fula (Fulani), and the Mandinka. Other West African tales of a trickster Hare were also introduced. The Spider (Anansi) tales appeared in the United States in the form of Aunt Nancy and Brer Rabbit stories. All the stories of Uncle Remus, as retold in the Sea Islands, are Hausa in origin via the Mande (Mandinka).
The dance now known as the Charleston had the greatest influence on American dance culture than any other imported African dance. It is a form of the jitterbug dance, which is a general term applied to unconventional, often formless and violent, social dances performed to syncopated music. Enslaved Africans brought it from the Kongo to Charleston, South Carolina, as the juba dance, which then slowly evolved into what is now the Charleston.
David Dalby has identified early linguistic retention and traced many Americanisms to Wolof including such words as OK (okay), bogus, boogie-woogie, bug (insect), John, phony, guy, honkie, dig (to understand), jam, jamboree, jitter(bug), jive, juke(box), fuzz (police), hippie, mumbo-jumbo, phoney, root toot(y), and rap, to name a few. Other linguistic Africanisms first used by Americans includes words such as banana, banjo, cola (as in Coca-Cola), elephant, goober (peanut), gorilla, gumbo, okra, sorcery, tater, tote and turnip. [The African Heritage of American English].
The Bantus often possessed good metallurgical and woodworking skills. They had particular skill in iron working, making the wrought iron balconies in New Orleans and Charleston. A prime example of a disguised or unrecognized African architectural influence is the porch. A common feature in many areas of West and Central Africa, the porch is an African contribution to American architecture as a whole.
Africans are credited with introducing certain folk treatments for small pox. Famed anthropologist R. S. Rattray reported that variolation of smallpox was practiced "from time immemorial by the Akan of Ghana." Likewise, the Scottish explorer Mungo Park, during his travels to the windward Coast at the end of the eighteenth century, was informed by a European doctor that the people of the Gambia practiced inoculation for small pox as their traditional prevention. Lieutenant Governor William Gooch of Virginia, in 1729, manumitted a slave named Panpan for his secret concoction of roots and herbs because it was a cure for yaws and syphilis. He was freed from slavery at a cost of sixty pounds. Sampson, another slave, gained his freedom as a reward for discovering a cure for rattlesnake bites.
- Anonymous4 years ago
They both rob, steal, rape, and murder, but it's genetics not really culture