8 Great African Contributions to American Culture

The African contributions to American culture Have been very varied and have been developed in such a way that they have been adapted to different nations of the continent as the years pass.

Some customs, rites, traditions and even religions from Africa have been established until now in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

8 Great African Contributions to American Culture Zulu Culture, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Many components of African culture have influenced the formation of the identity of American countries from a historical and cultural point of view. For this reason, similarities can be found in different peoples that agree on clothing, art, gastronomy and culture. music.

The African roots in the American continent arise with the arrival of African slaves in the early sixteenth century.

Great concentrations of slaves arrived in Spanish ports of some cities like Cadiz, Seville, Valencia and Huelva and were transferred to cities of America like Cartagena de Indias in Colombia, Veracruz in Mexico; Portobello, Brazil; Havana, Cuba and several ports of Venezuela.

In the same way, they arrived in the United States, Argentina and Uruguay. Slave movements continued until the end of the 19th century despite the declaration of the abolition of slavery in 1880.

1.- Language

The large number of Africans settled on the coasts of America resulted in a phase of transculturization in which blacks and whites adopted languages ​​of one or the other, resulting in modalities in speech that can be evidenced today in European languages ​​and In the Castilian.

It is so that the Castilian that is spoken in the American continent ended up acquiring African words that illustrate the culture of the slaves and their spirituality.

In these changes and adaptations in the language there are words to designate certain types of food and dishes, names of musical instruments, dance styles, medicinal herbs, among others.

Some terms that can be highlighted are: malanga, conga, cod, orisha, yam, candonga, among others that are currently used.

2.- Religion

It should be noted that the quality of the black race with more influence in America was their religious beliefs and rites, which go beyond slavery and had a long stay in American lands.

Some of these beliefs remain today and can be identified in the following manner according to their countries: in Brazil the Umbanda religion has proliferated in recent years; In Cuba appeared and defined Santería in the nineteenth century, coming from the Yoruba tribe of Africa; In Trinidad and Tobago, the belief of Shango, the King of the Yoruba religion, is confessed; In Jamaica the Obeah and Myalismo religion is practiced; In Haiti, the Voodoo; And in the United States all these practices of African origin have been transformed and less identifiable.

It has been said that American culture although it has not maintained religious traditions to the full, retains diverse Africanities or African tracks in its music and dance.

Instead of simply imposing their beliefs, many African descendants adopted Christianity and founded the black churches in the United States, which have contributed to the growth of the Protestant church in general.

According to many African Americans, identification with the African continent does not have to be engendered in religiosity.

3.- Music

In a desire to portray their rites and musical rhythms, many Africans in different places had the feeling of building and rebuilding their primitive musical instruments to drain the tension from the exploitation they received and express their emotions.

They expressed protest themes, but also rejoiced to the rhythm of the drums with dances that included movements of hip, hands and feet. These expressions are the result of African American music that has evolved until today.

Musical rhythms with African roots such as merengue, salsa, samba, plena and other dances and rhythms that are considered typical of some regions and that erect a whole history and cultural structure can be found in Latin America.

4.- Gastronomy

When the Africans arrived on the continent, they brought with them the fruits to which they were accustomed.

Such is the case of the pin or watermelon, several species of bananas and the African rice that arrived at the Americas in the slave ships.

The gastronomic customs of the slaves impacted the food culture of the Americas in a great way, either in ingredients or in specific preparations that were adopted or transformed.

For example, the dishes that combine rice, meat, vegetables and grains were supplied by slaves who worked as servants in parts of the United States, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. Many dishes are still maintained even though they have undergone modifications.

Some culinary techniques that can be found in America thanks to the arrival of Africans are: roasted wood, boiled spices, sauces, sauces and stews where fats predominate and the use of coconut to make sweets, as well as leaves Of banana trees to wrap recipes like the hallacas in Venezuela or the tamales.

5.- Crafts

African slaves made innumerable contributions in the construction of houses, survival utensils, as well as fabrics made with palm leaves to make jars, storage containers and bed covers.

It is possible to be said that the influences that the Africans contributed to the American continent are still preserved and thanks to them have been made and developed in them, of which stand out: kitchen objects, quilts, mattresses, naval construction, architecture, carpentry and smithy.

6.- Medicine

Traditional African medicine has been founded on expert healers and people of high religious rank, who offer therapeutic knowledge that has studied nature and herbs in addition to combining sacred rituals.

Afro-descendant healers are related to the environment and know it very well, that is how their social fabric has been constituted.

They are able to attend to snake bites, fever and other evils with the plants that nature offers them.

This knowledge is ancestral and transmitted from generation to generation and has contributed to Latin American cultures, especially in areas that are far from professional medical care.

7.- Culture

The African legacy in America has diverse folk manifestations ranging from dress, singing, music and beliefs. The form of African cultural teaching and transmission is based on oral teaching and imitation.

Being able to demonstrate their customs with gestures and prayers, they managed to develop a process of African American and Afro-Caribbean transculturation.

This mixture can be evidenced in Latin American countries such as Colombia with Afro-Colombians, Uruguay with Afro-Uruguayans and Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Bolivia.

8.- Sport

Disciplines such as soccer, boxing, basketball and especially athletics, have African roots. In fact, the most prominent athletes are usually black Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean.

Because of their physiognomy, structure, anatomy and musculature, they can perform better in some disciplines, such as never missing out on the Olympic Games and international tournaments where they stand out for their qualities and talents.


  1. John Michael Vlach. Rooted in Africa, Raised in America. Recovered from: nationalhumanitiescenter.org
  2. Jocelyne Sambira. Slave trade. Source: un.org
  3. President and Fellows of Harvard College. From Africa to America. Source: pluralism.org
  4. John A. Davis. The Influence of Africans on American Culture. (1954). Vol. 354, Africa in Motion.
  5. Dontaira Terrell. The Untold Impact of African Culture on American Culture. Source: atlantablackstar.com
  6. Rebecca Gross. The Influence of Africa on U.S. Culture. Source: arts.gov.

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