African Cultural Traditions in the New World
Afro-American culture is the contribution of the black American to the culture of the U.S. The root of the culture is from the African people. The latter also involves the middle passage. The Afro-American culture is different from the American culture at large. The culture comes mostly from the interior part and the western part of the African continent. Despite the fact that there was a restriction for the Africans to practice their own culture, some of the principles, morals, and culture did not change. Indeed, they adhered to most of their cultural traditions. As a result, the culture of the Africans changed the culture of European Americans (Brown 35). Therefore, since the slavery period, the African culture has had a profound influence in European culture as well as other global cultures. The current paper will focus on various ways through which the African cultural traditions provided the foundation for Afro-American culture.
First, there were various important characteristics of the African religious expression incorporated into early African American culture. The study of the religion of the African American is normally traced back to the Negro church of 1903. The religion of the black people provided the social situations of the black American who lived in the United States society (Morgan 39). The original African culture acts as the cultural identity of the blacks because it came with various interrelated streams that have been explored up to date. There have been several debates concerning the various aspects of the African culture drawn to the African American religion. However, it has been clear that most of the culture used by the black American has its roots from the original African culture. Some of the African facets, such as funeral rituals, healing, possession of spirits, worshipping of the ancestors, rites of initiations, the magical rituals meant for getting spiritual powers, and some of the ceremonies associated with singing, rhythmic dancing and drumming are closely correlated to the original African culture though they have been blended with the European elements of culture.
Second, there were some of the ways in which African musical traditions were expressed in early African American musical practices. Ideally, it was imperative to use music when organizing the revolution of the slaves. The drums used in Africa were used America for communication (Morgan 71). They were indeed used to spread rhythmic language, which could not be interpreted by the whites. At length, there was a connection between music, drums and communication in America brought about by the African slaves. As time surpassed, the Americans compelled the African to stop using the drums for their dances. To counter that, the slaves started using anything they came across to create rhythms for their music. In fact, they would use things like sticks or even spoons to enhance their music and communication.
Third, the slaves used elements of medicine and magic from African cultures in their everyday lives in various ways. The Africans had beliefs in the ability of some people of invoking the spirits in different ways. The same beliefs have prevailed up to date and most black Americans believe in the same thing (Morgan 56). Additionally, they believe in power of magic. Many of the black Americans practised various rituals that correlate emotional and physical healing of diseases with spells, amulets and foods that could assist comrades or even cause harm to enemies. Additionally, there were special burials for the slaves without Christian beliefs. They could be buried in ways that were arranged carefully together with their valued things to assist them in their journey. Nevertheless, the African Americans did not practice the beliefs alone during those times. Many whites had copied similar notions and ideas concerning magic and witchcraft though they practised them in their own version. The practises of the traditional African had powers and could overlap the other rituals of the Christians (Voeks 67). They could use the spirits from their ancestors to respond to different outpourings of the spirit during various revivals. As a result, many European-American could take up the African cultures, though in forms which are slightly modified. Nonetheless, the exchanges could be barely equal or truly the same. In addition, during the religion realm, the whites and blacks could share their faith. They could also meet in the meetinghouse. However, the whites were given the priority of getting in. For instance, during the Virginia visit of 1792, the meetinghouse overflew with crowds who came from both races. As a result, the Negroes were compelled to get out to give space for the whites.
Lastly, music and folktales provide an insight into the experience of African American slaves in the United States through different ways. The African used the folktales and music as a way of expressing themselves. In other instances, they could be used as symbols for the Africans and could represent their motives. For instance, a rabbit could represent the trickster when the slaves told tales (Voeks 46). The music and folktales have therefore, been used as a way of spreading information to people. The performers grab the attention of the people as a way of passing information to them. They thus, enlighten them on how slavery life was and what they endured. More so, they enlighten the listeners about what has transpired since the time of slavery.
Brown, Sterling A. Negro Folk Expression: Spirituals, Seculars, Ballads and Work Songs. Atlanta: Atlanta U, 1953. Print.
Morgan, Michael J. Rock and Roll Unplugged: African-American Music in Eighteenth-Century America1. 3rd ed. London: The Johns Hopkins University Press., 1994. Print.
Voeks, Robert. “African Medicine Magic in the Americas. The Geographical Review. N.p., 1993). Print.