Afro-Bahamians are Bahamians that came from African descent. Many were associated with the Empires of Ghana, Songhai, and Mali. According to the census taken in 2010, 92.7% of The Bahamas’ population identifies as African or African mixed with European. The first to arrive in the Bahamas were black crewmen on Columbus’ three ships in 1492, although there is no actual record of them.
It is known that both free and enslaved Africans took part in some of the many early Spanish voyages of exploration, they were also an important part of Spanish society at the time. The first record of an African presence in the Bahamas can be traced to the arrival of the Eleutherian Adventurers from Bermuda in the mid-1600s. By 1670 several African men, women, and children were living in the Bahamas, and four years later Bermuda banished a small group of slaves together with all free blacks and Indians to the Bahamian island of Eleuthera. Hundreds of captured Africans came to the Bahamas in the early 1700s with scores of white emigrants from Bermuda and Barbados in search of land grants. By 1731 Africans or creoles comprised 40 percent of the New Providence population, 22 percent of the Eleuthera population and 5 percent of the Harbor Island population. But Africans didn’t become the largest ethnic group until the late 1700s when some 6,000 loyalists and slaves settled the islands following the American War of Independence doubling the population they had before the war and making it 2 black people to every one white person. In 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, Nassau was held by the Americans.
After the war some Loyalists, black slaves, and freedmen emigrated from the United States to the Bahamas, creating a very large increase in population. Slavery was banned in the Bahamas in 1834, but during the U.S. Civil War Nassau gave the service of a supply base for Confederate blockade runners. The Africans who were moved to the Bahamas started many unique traditions and introduced the new culture to the Bahamians.
Some of the cultures they introduced were junkanoo, Sloop Sailing Regatta, Obeah, Sperrids, and Shigidi. Junkanoo is a street parade with music, dance, and costumes that are of Akan origin in many islands across the Bahamas every Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day. The largest Junkanoo parade happens in the capital Nassau, New Providence. There are also Junkanoo parades in Miami in June and Key West in October, where local black American populations have their roots in The Bahamas.
In addition to being a culture dance for the Garifuna people, this type of dancing is also performed in The Bahamas on Independence day and other historical holidays. Dances are choreographed to the beat of goatskin drums and cowbells. Sloop sailing regatta Is sailing using traditional Bahamian fishing boats for competition. It is presently being considered for National Sport of The Bahamas.
They also introduced some folklore. Obeah is a system of spiritual and healing practices developed among enslaved West Africans in the West Indies. Obeah is difficult to define, as it is not a single, unified set of practices; the word “Obeah” was historically not often used to describe one’s own practices. Some scholars, such as Diana Paton, have contended that what constitutes Obeah in Jamaica has been constructed by white society, particularly law enforcement. Accordingly, different Afro-Caribbean communities use their own terminology to describe the practice, such as science, among the Jamaican Windward Maroons.
Obeah is similar to other Afro-American religions such as Palo, Haitian Vodou, Santería, and Hoodoo in that it includes communication with ancestors and spirits and healing rituals. Nevertheless, it differs from religions like Vodou and Santeria in that there is no explicit canon of gods or deities that is worshipped, and the practice is an individual action rather than part of a collective ceremony or offering.sperrids are Ghosts or Spirits that like to reside in Silk Cotton trees. Bahamian sperrids are very mischievous they haunt houses, haunt people, and they forcibly influence humans. sperrids appear to roam around but only the Obeah practitioner can “call,” “control” and utilize the sperrids to effectuate good deeds or evil deeds.
” Shigidi is a spirit. In a book written by Alfred Burdon Ellis published in 1894, He mentions that the Superstition of Shigidi still lingers among the blacks of The Bahamas of Yoruba descent, who talk about being hagged and believe that nightmare is caused by a demon that crouches on the chest of someone who is asleep. Hagging is what they called being haunted or possessed by a demon or spirit or being that is not alive.