Afro-Antiguan and Barbudan

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Afro-Antiguan and Barbudan
Total population
Approx. 82,041
Regions with significant populations
 Antigua and Barbuda (Approx. 82,041[1])
English, Leeward Caribbean Creole English
Related ethnic groups

Afro-Antiguans and Afro-Barbudans are Antiguans and Barbudans whose ancestry lies within the continent of Africa, most notably West Africa.

As of 2013, people of African descent are the majority ethnic group in Antigua and Barbuda, as they account for 91% of the country's population. An additional 4.4% of the population is mixed-race, predominantly of mixed African and European ancestry.[1]


Antigua received a large number of slaves from several African countries: Most of them were from Nigeria (were imported to Antigua and Barbuda ethnic groups as the Igbo and Yoruba. They arrived more than 22,000 slaves from the Bight of Biafra to Antigua, 26% of the slaves of the island) and Ghana (people of Akans tribes as Ashanti and Fante -whose descendants are called Kromanti-. Came to Antigua over 16,000 of them, 19% of the slaves of the island), but less so also imported slaves groups of Senegambia (arrived more of 5.000 slaves of this part of Africa to Antigua, 6% of the slaves of the island), Guinea, Sierra Leone (over 4,000 of them came to Antigua. 5% of the slaves of the island), Windward Coast (they arrived more of 11.000 slaves of this part of Africa to Antigua, 13% of the slaves of the island), Bight of Benin (they arrived more of 6.000 slaves of this part of Africa to Antigua, 8% of the slaves of the island) and Congo (Kongo). Many of the slaves were also Mandinka.[2]


Settlers raised tobacco, indigo, ginger, and sugarcane as cash crops. Sir Christopher Codrington established the first large sugar estate in Antigua in 1674, and leased Barbuda to raise provisions for his plantations. In the fifty years after Codrington established his initial plantation, the sugar industry became so profitable that many farmers replaced other crops with sugar, making it the economic backbone of the islands. Codrington and others brought slaves from Africa's west coast to work the plantations under brutal conditions. Africans started arriving in Antigua and Barbuda in large numbers during the 1670s. Very quickly, they grew into the largest racial/ethnic group. Their entry into the local social structure was marked by a profound racialization: They ceased being Yoruba, Igbo, or Akan and became Negroes or Blacks.[citation needed]

Within the colonial framework established by the British soon after their initial settlement of Antigua in 1623, five distinct and carefully ranked racial/ethnic groups emerged.

At the top of this social structure were the British rulers. Amongst them were divisions between British Antiguans and non-creolized Britons, with the latter coming out on top. In short, this was a racial/ethnic hierarchy which gave maximum recognition to people and cultural practices of Anglican origin.

Immediately below the British were the mulattoes, a mixed-race group of Afro-European origin. Mulattoes, lighter in shade than most Africans, developed a complex system based on skin shade to distinguish themselves from the latter and to legitimate their claims to higher status. In many ways, they paralleled the British White Supremacy ideology.

Many Madeirans, who followed to the mulattoes in the social structure gradually, established small businesses and joined the ranks of the mulatto class. The British never really considered the Madeirans as Whites and did not allow them into their ranks. Amongst Antiguans and Barbudans of Madeiran descent, status differences were based on the varying degrees of assimilation into the dominant group's Anglicized practices.

Afro-Antiguans and Afro-Barbudans were at the bottom.

With all others in the British Empire, Antiguan slaves were emancipated in 1834, but remained economically dependent upon the plantation owners. Economic opportunities for the new freedmen were limited by a lack of surplus farming land, no access to credit, and an economy built on agriculture rather than manufacturing. Poor labour conditions persisted until 1939 when a member of a royal commission urged the formation of a trade union movement.

In the 20th-century was redefined the role of Afro-Antiguans and Barbudans. The colonial social structure gradually started to be phased out with the introduction of universal education and better economic opportunities. This process allowed Blacks to rise to the highest echelons of society and government.[3]


Antigua has a population of 85,632, mostly made up of people of West African, British, and Madeiran descent. The ethnic distribution consists of 91% Black or Mulatto, 4.4% mixed race, 1.7% White, and 2.9% other (primarily East Indian and Asian).

A minority of Antiguan residents are immigrants from other countries, particularly from Dominica, Guyana and Jamaica, and, increasingly, from the Dominican Republic, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Nigeria. An estimated 4,500 American citizens also make their home in Antigua and Barbuda, making their numbers one of the largest American populations in the English-speaking Eastern Caribbean.[3]

References and footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "CIA - The World Factbook -- Antigua and Barbuda". CIA. Archived from the original on 5 June 2010. Retrieved 2013-06-09. 
  2. ^ African origins of the slaves from British and former British Antilles
  3. ^ a b "Background Note: Antigua and Barbuda". Archived from the original on 14 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-23.