Afro-American religion

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Example of Louisiana-Tradition Voodoo altar inside a temple in New Orleans.

Afro-American religions (also African diasporic religions) are a number of related religions that developed in the Americas among enslaved Africans 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.

Religion of African Americans in the United States[edit]


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[edit]

Afro-American Religions
Religion Location Ancestral roots Also practiced in Remarks
Candomblé Brazil Yoruba Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Venezuela Some elements of Dahomey Vodun (deities) and Kongo nkisi. Also called Batuque.
Umbanda Brazil Yoruba (mainly) Argentina, 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, Witchcraft, Brazilian Shamanism   Veneration of ancestral spirits called Exu and Pomba Gira
Santería Cuba Yoruba Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Panama, Puerto Rico, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela Catholicism Syncretism
Regla de Arará Cuba Fon Puerto Rico  
Regla de Palo Cuba[1] Kongo nkisi Brazil, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, United States, Venezuela Also called Palo Mayombe, Las Reglas del Congo, Palo Monte
Abakua Cuba Ekpe   society of the Annang, Efik, Ibibio, Ekoi and Igbo
21 Divisiones Dominican Republic Taino, Fon, Yoruba, Kongo United States
Haitian Vodou Haiti Fon Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, United States  
Obeah Jamaica Igbo Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Virgin Islands Related to Hoodoo folk magic. Derives from the Igbo 'obia' (or dibia, Igbo: doctoring) traditions.[2]
Kumina Jamaica Kongo  
Winti Suriname Akan, Yoruba, Kongo Netherlands
Spiritual Baptist Trinidad and Tobago Yoruba Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, Jamaica, United States Protestantism Syncretism, since the early 19th century
Orisha Trinidad and Tobago Yoruba United States originally Yoruba, later syncretized with Catholicism.[3]
Louisiana Voodoo Southern United States Fon United States

Other closely related regional faiths include:

New religious movements[edit]

Some syncretic new religious movements have elements of these African 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:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For an extended discussion on Palo's history, see: Dodson, Jualynne E. (2008). Sacred spaces and Religious Traditions in Oriente Cuba. UNM Press.
  2. ^ Eltis, David; Richardson, David (1997). Routes to slavery: direction, ethnicity, and mortality in the transatlantic slave trade. Routledge. p. 88. ISBN 0-7146-4820-5. 
  3. ^ Houk, James (1995). Spirits, Blood, and Drums: The Orisha Religion in Trinidad. Temple University Press. 
  4. ^ Xango de Recife

External links[edit]