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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
Religion Developed in* Ancestral roots Also practiced in Remarks
Candomblé Brazil Yoruba Some elements of Dahomey Vodun (deities) and Kongo nkisi. Also called Batuque.
Umbanda Brazil Yoruba (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.
Quimbanda Brazil Kongo
Brazilian Shamanism
  Veneration of ancestral spirits called Exu and Pomba Gira
Santería Cuba Yoruba Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Haiti, USA Catholicism Syncretism
Regla de Arará Cuba Dahomey Puerto Rico Dominican Republic  
Regla de Palo Cuba Kongo nkisi Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, USA, Venezuela Also called Palo Mayombe,
Regla de Congo, Palo Monte
Haitian Vodou Haiti Dahomey mythology Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, Brazil, USA, Canada  
Louisiana Voodoo Southern USA Dahomey mythology USA
Obeah Jamaica Igbo Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Grenada, Barbados, Guyana, Suriname, Belize Similar to Hoodoo, derives from the Igbo 'obia' (or dibia, ) traditions.[1]
Winti Suriname Yoruba, Dahomey, Kongo  
Kumina Jamaica Kongo  
Spiritual Baptist Trinidad and Tobago Yoruba Jamaica, Bahamas, USA Protestantism Syncretism, since the early 19th century
Hoodoo Southern USA Kongo, Dahomey, Togo USA  
Abakua Cuba Ekpe   society of the Annang, Efik, Ibibio, Ekoi and Igbo
Orisha Trinidad Yoruba New York City Originally 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:

  • Santo Daime (folk Catholicism and Spiritism, Brazil);
  • Moorish Science Temple of America (Islam and Christianity, USA)
  • Nation of Islam (Islam, USA)
  • Rastafari movement (Abrahamic, Jamaica)
  • Espiritismo (mixture of Taino and Kongo beliefs, Puerto Rico)

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.