Awakening Africa Magazine

Culture & art


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The contributions and cultural influences traced back from enslaved Africans have been greatly undermined in the American culture. Africanisms varying from traditional folklore, Southern cuisine to song and dance are not only prevalent in today’s society but have a widespread, deep-rooted impact throughout the United States.

During those difficult time, enslaved Africans were forced to abandon traditional customs, camouflage spiritual rituals and perish cultural artifacts. But upon arrival into the New World, previous practices and wisdom were quickly adapted in order to survive and sustain within the realm of America.

Africans have, since the early settlement of America, influenced the nation’s language, manners, religion, literature, music, art, and dance. One of our most crucial urban problems, the Negro low-status family, may have African origins. In the realm of politics, the civil rights fight in America from its origin has been linked to the struggle for African freedom, and American Negro intellectuals have identified with African culture from the beginning of the century, an identification accelerated since 1956 with the formation of the International Society of African Culture and the American Society of African Culture.

Unfortunately, Africans contributions to the economics, wealth and culture of the U.S. since the beginning have been whitewashed or receive little to no credit, a tale all too familiar within American history. The expertise and benefactions of Africans are evidenced in various forms including but not limited to:


Africans supplied the intense labor, skillfulness and cultivation of the first rice seeds, successfully introducing and transmitting rice culture into the New World. Stemming back to the 1700s, rice was first introduced from Madagascar to the farming market of South Carolina. During this time, enslaved Africans used three indispensable systems: ground water, springs and soil moisture reservation.

Southern Cuisine

At the time of the trans-Atlantic voyage, black-eyed peas, okra, kidney and lima beans were gathered and collected in Africa for enslaved Africans upon the voyage into the New World. Synonymous with soul food, traditional African dishes and techniques have been perpetuated in American food culture such as deep frying, gumbo, fufu and millet bread. Often prepared by enslaved Africans, cornbread was assimilated to the African millet bread and fufu, a traditional African meal similar to “turn meal and flour,” a popular dish associated with the state of South Carolina.


Enslaved Africans were forced to substitute drums with hand clapping and feet tapping because slave “masters” banned drums in several African communities after learning they could be used as an obscure form of communication. As a result, rhythmic song and dance became a major component of the New World culture, including shuffles, breakdowns, jigs and the strut accompanied by drum-less beats using their hands or feet. Two of the most notable music forms created by enslaved Africans are spirituals and the blues; both are generational blueprints within the religious melodies found in the African American communities.

Those noted above are just the tip of the iceberg as there is an abundance of notable contributions made by enslaved Africans that are often duplicated but highly disregarded in the American culture.

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