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Afro-American religion

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Afro-American religions (also African diasporic religions) are a number of related religions that developed in the Americas among African slaves and their descendants in various countries of Latin America, the Caribbean, and parts of the southern United States. They derive from African traditional religions, especially of West and Central Africa, showing similarities to the Yoruba religion in particular.


These religions usually involve ancestor veneration and/or a pantheon of divine spirits, such as the loas of Haitian Vodou, or the orishas of Santería. Similar divine spirits are also found in the Central and West African traditions from which they derive — the orishas of Yoruba cultures, the nkisi of Bantu (Kongo) traditions, and the Vodun of Dahomey (Benin), Togo, southern Ghana, and Burkina Faso. In addition to mixing these various but related African traditions, many Afro-American religions incorporate elements of Christian, indigenous American, Kardecist, Spiritualist and even Islamic traditions. This mixing of traditions is known as religious syncretism.

List of traditions

Afro-American Religions
ReligionDeveloped in*Ancestral rootsAlso practiced inRemarks
CandombléBrazilYoruba Some elements of Dahomey Vodun (deities) and Kongo nkisi. Also called Batuque.
UmbandaBrazilYoruba (mainly) Uruguay
Syncretism. Mixed the Yoruba's deities (Orishas) with the Bantu's veneration of ancestral spirits (Preto Velho), indigenous elements (Caboclos and Caciques), Allan Kardec's Spiritism and Catholicism. Founded in the early 20th century.
Brazilian Shamanism
 Veneration of ancestral spirits called Exu and Pomba Gira
SanteríaCubaYorubaPuerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Haiti, USACatholicism Syncretism
Regla de AraráCubaDahomeyPuerto Rico Dominican Republic 
Regla de PaloCubaKongo nkisiDominican Republic, Puerto Rico, USA, Venezuela Also called Palo Mayombe,
Regla de Congo, Palo Monte
Haitian VodouHaitiDahomey mythologyCuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, Brazil, USA, Canada 
Louisiana VoodooSouthern USADahomey mythologyUSA
ObeahJamaicaIgboTrinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Grenada, Barbados, Guyana, Suriname, Belize Similar to Hoodoo, derives from the Igbo 'obia' (or dibia, ) traditions.[1]
WintiSurinameYoruba, Dahomey, Kongo 
Spiritual BaptistTrinidad and TobagoYorubaJamaica, Bahamas, USAProtestantism Syncretism, since the early 19th century
HoodooSouthern USA Kongo, Dahomey, Togo USA 
AbakuaCubaEkpe  society of the Annang, Efik, Ibibio, Ekoi and Igbo
OrishaTrinidadYorubaNew York CityOriginally Yoruba, later syncretized with Catholicism. [2]

* Does not refer to the religions' indigenous origins in continental Africa, but only to their development in the New World.

Other closely related regional faiths include Dominican Vudu in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rican Vudu in Puerto Rico, Xangô de Recife[3] and Xangô do Nordeste in Brazil, Tambor de Mina in Brazil and Candomblé Ketu in Bahia, Brazil.

New religious movements

Some syncretic new religious movements have elements of African traditional religions, but are predominantly rooted in other spiritual traditions. A first wave of such movements originated in the early twentieth century:

A second wave of new movements originated in the 1960s to 1970s, in the context of the emergence of New Age and Neopaganism in the United States:

  • União do Vegetal (Brazil, entheogenic, since 1961);
  • Vale do Amanhecer (Brazil, Spiritism, since 1965);
  • Ausar Auset Society (USA, Kemetism, Pan-Africanism, since 1973); and
  • Black Buddhist Community in America (USA, Buddhism, since the 1960s).

See also


Further reading

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Afro-American religion. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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