African Survivals in the Diaspora

Capoeira – is a martial art whose roots are African. It was developed in Brazil where it was used by freed slaves to defend the republic of Palmares. Other African fighting arts existed across slave communities throughout the Americas.

Below are some of the martial arts styles with an African foundation:

  • Cuba: Baile del Mani
  • Martinique: Ladija (or Danymé)
  • Trinidad: Kalinda

In Jamaica the Junkanoo festival takes place on December 26 each year. Everyone dresses in different costumes and masks, many of which are African (eg Twi, Ebo, Ga, Yoruba, Ashanti etc.). During the festivities the people are divided into different groupings. Each grouping has its own king and queen. Junkanoo has been celebrated in Jamaica for hundreds of years.


Ettu – the Yoruba song and dance survives today in the parish of Hanover, Jamaica.

In Jamaica the language patois (patwah) is predominantly composed of words from the Akan languages of Ghana. There are also a number of words from other languages including Ewé, Hausa, Ibo, Ko, and Yoruba. The grammatical structure of Patois is Akan.