From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Flag of Barbados.svg
Rihanna Diamonds World Tour 2013 cropped.jpg
Shontelle 2010.jpg
Livvi-Franc 091212 Photoby-Adam-Bielawski.jpg
Leah in mei ling cropped.jpg
Owen Arthur-2.jpg
Sir Garry Sobers 2012.jpg
Freundel Stuart June 2010.jpg
Notable Barbadian people:
Rihanna  • Shontelle  • Livvi Franc  • Leah Marville  • Tino Best
Owen Arthur  • Garry Sobers  • Freundel Stuart  • Grantley Herbert Adams
Total population
96% of the Barbadian population (80% black and 16% Mulatto).
Bajan Creole
Predominaltly Christianity minority of Rastafarism
Related ethnic groups
White Barbadian, others Afro-Anglo American, Afro-Venezuelan, African people (Akan  • Igbo  • Yoruba  • Ewe  • Fon  • Efik  • Ibibio  • Kongo)

Afro-Barbadians, or African Barbadians, are Barbadian people of largely African descent. They are also referred to simply as African, Black. The term may also refer to a Barbadian of African ancestry. Social interpretations of race are mutable rather than deterministic, and neither physical appearance nor ancestry are used straightforwardly to determine whether a person is considered a black Barbadian. According 2012 Census, the 80% of the Barbados population is Black and the 16% is mixed Black and European (-Mulatto-. The European are only a 4% of the population).[1]


Most of the enslaved Africans brought into Barbados disembarked from the Bight of Biafra (62,000 people in total), the Gold Coast (59,000 Africans) and the Bight of Benin (45,000 Africans).[2]

Bight of Biafra Africans were mostly of Igbo and Ibibio ethnicity while those disembarking from the Gold Coast were primarily of Akan descent. Slaves were also from the Bight of Benin, Ewe and Fon (coming both from Benin).[3]

Others slaves arrived to archipelago hailed from Senegambia (since where arrived more of 14.000 slaves), Windward Coast (since where arrived more of 13.000 slaves), Sierra Leone (since where arrived more of 9.000 slaves) and from Central Africa[2] (since where arrived more of 29.000 slaves, many of them of the Kongo ethnic). Others ethnic groups imported were Papayas people.

However, consideration of the validity of the slaves was varied and not all ethnic groups could buy were purchased. The Royal African Company in Barbados had its own preference on the origins of the slaves. Thus, the company considered, as reported once, that Papayas slaves were worth more than the Gold Coast´s slaves to work. This campany also indicated that Ibos and others slaves from present-day Sierra Leone and Gambia were among the worst planters. Slaves of Gambia, he said, were fit only for housework and care of cattle, because they "were so well fed in their home country that they could not feel the pinch as other blacks." Also slaves from the Bight of Guinea and Angola were considered inferior and were difficult to sell.[4]


Main article: Barbados Slave Code

Sugar cane cultivation began in the 1640s, after its introduction in 1637 by Pieter Blower. Initially, rum was produced but by 1642, sugar was the focus of the industry. As it developed into the main commercial enterprise, Barbados was divided into large plantation estates which replaced the small holdings of the early English settlers as the wealthy planters pushed out the poorer. Some of the displaced farmers relocated to the English colonies in North America, most notably South Carolina.[5] To work the plantations, black Africans - primarily from West Africa - were imported as slaves in such numbers that in the last two decades of the seventeenth century, black people outnumbered white people by a margin of two to one, and in the eighteenth century there were three blacks for every one planter.[3] Sugar cane dominated Barbados' economic growth, and the island's cash crop was at the top of the sugar industry until 1720.

Roberts (2006) shows that slaves did not spend the majority of time in restricted roles cultivating, harvesting, and processing sugarcane, the island's most important cash crop. Rather, slaves involved in various activities and in multiple roles: raising livestock, fertilizing soil, growing provisional crops, maintaining plantation infrastructure, caregiving, and other tasks. One notable soil management technique was intercropping, planting subsistence crops between the rows of cash crops - which demanded of the slaves skilled and experienced observations of growing conditions for efficient land use.[6]

In 1644 the population of Barbados was estimated at 30,000, of this amount about 800 were of African descent, with the remainder mainly of English descent. These English smallholders were eventually bought out and the island was filled up with large African slave-worked sugar plantations. By 1660 there was near parity with 27,000 blacks and 26,000 whites. By 1680 there were seventeen slaves for every indentured servant. By 1700, there were 15,000 free whites and 50,000 enslaved blacks.

Due to the increased implementation of slave codes, which created differential treatment between Africans and the white workers and ruling planter class, the island became increasingly unattractive to poor whites. Black or slave codes were implemented in 1661, 1676, 1682, and 1688. In response to these codes, several slave rebellions were attempted or planned during this time, but none succeeded. Nevertheless, poor whites who had or acquired the means to emigrate often did so. Planters expanded their importation of African slaves to cultivate sugar cane.

By 1660, Barbados generated more trade than all the other English colonies combined. This remained until it was eventually surpassed by geographically larger islands like Jamaica in 1713. Even though, in 1730–31 the estimated value of the colony of Barbados was as much as ₤5,500,000.[7]

From the beginning of the eighteenth century, most black people of Barbados had been born on the island, which facilitated the creation of a Barbadian identity since these years. Moreover, as occurred in the white population, the percentage was much higher women than men, unlike other Caribbean islands, where it was the opposite. This facilitated the reproduction of the black population during the second half of the eighteenth century, without having to rely on new imports of Africans to maintain the same output of slave labor. In addition, the birth rate was higher than mortality. However, even in this century and early nineteenth century continued to be imported some African slaves in Barbados.[3] Increasingly after 1750 the plantations were owned by absentee landlords living in Great Britain and operated by hired managers.[8]

It is estimated that between 1627 to 1807, approximately 387 000 Africans were sent to the island against their will, in overcrowded and unsanitary ships. Moreover, the slave trade was important for Barbados. Barbados (Bridgetown, in particular), re-exported many slaves to North America, other Caribbean islands and the Captaincy General of Venezuela. Later, the Royal African Company established offices in Jamaica and Barbados. Thus, from Jamaica are re-exported slaves to Mexico, while from Barbados are re-exported to Venezuela.[3] The slave trade ceased in 1807 and slaves were emancipated in 1834.[6] Moreover, was only from this year, when the black population begins to be cultured by the white people, is imposed European culture, because until then they kept African culture.[3] More late, in 1843, was elected the first person of African descent in the Barbados's Parliament, Samuel Jackman Prescod.


According 2012 Census, the 80% of the Barbados population is Black and the 16% is mixed Black and European (-Mulatto-. The European are only a 4% of the population).[1]

Culture and African legacy[edit]

Main article: Barbados culture

Barbadian culture and music are mixtures of European and African elements, with minimal influence from the indigenous peoples of the island, about whom little is known.[9]

Bajan culture is syncretic, and the island's musical culture is perceived as a mixture of African and British musics, with certain unique elements that may derive from indigenous sources. Tension between African and British culture has long been a major element of Bajan history, and has included the banning of certain African-derived practices and black Barbadian parodies of British traditions.[10]

Also, the Bajan cuisine includes a unique blend of foods with African, Indian and British influences.[11]

As for Religion, most is "Christian" (whether practicing or otherwise).[12] However, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, and other Christian denominations also support congregations. The Rastafarian faith also has its community of adherents, sometimes complaining of discrimination in schooling and employment.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Barbados factbook". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  2. ^ a b African origins of the slaves from British and former British Antilles
  3. ^ a b c d e Slavery and Economy in Barbados. Posted by Dr Karl Watson.
  4. ^ Barbados Article: Slavery 18th Century
  5. ^ South Carolina National Heritage Corridor (SCNHC)
  6. ^ a b Justin Roberts, "Agriculture on Two Barbadian Sugar Plantations, 1796-97," William and Mary Quarterly 2006 63(3): 551-586.
  7. ^ Richard B. Sheridan, Sugar and Slavery: An Economic History of the British West Indies, 1623-1775, p. 144.
  8. ^ Ragatz (1931).
  9. ^ Millington, pp 813-821
  10. ^ Millington, pg. 816 Millington notes that "(l)inks, fusion and tension between African and British cultural expressions are still currently manifested."
  11. ^ Culinary Travel Destinations: Barbados. World Culinary. Accessed 21 January 2011. Archive.
  12. ^ a b U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. International Religious Freedom Report 2008. U.S. Department of State Archive. 19 September 2008.