Kongo Atlantic Diaspora

John M. Janzen

in African Studies

ISBN: 9780199846733
Published online October 2013 | | DOI:
Kongo Atlantic Diaspora

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The full African diaspora must include references to actors, localities, or cultural features in the Mediterranean, continental Europe, and South Asia as well as North and South America over several thousand years. This article explores western equatorial Africa and its extension in the New World, where Kongo people, speakers of the KiKongo language, and their successors have participated actively in the continuation and transformation of their African way of life and their story. The Kongo Atlantic world is unique in encompassing five centuries of historical documentation. Portuguese explorer Diogo Cao’s visit in 1482 began a several-century interaction between the Kongo court and region, and Portuguese and other European nations that opened diplomatic ties with Kongo and European states while the Kongo elite adopted Christianity, European language, clothing, religion and social trappings. Commercial relations were launched that included ever increasing enslavement of Africans. During the course of five centuries, the relationship of western equatorial Africa to Europe and the Americas transformed the lives of millions of people, who provided massive labor for the development of plantations and industries and founded the cultural ancestry of an important cross-section of the New—the African-American—World. Accessible English sources are given preferential treatment in this article. Old World contexts reviewed include the precolonial kingdoms of the region (Kongo, Loango, KaKongo, Ngoyo, Tio), the people, the language and culture, and the history; the ports and hinterlands of a massive inland trading empire that moved people and goods across vast distances from the 17th to the 19th centuries; this region as the point of entry of three colonial territories (the Congo Free State and the Belgian Congo, Portuguese Angola, and part of French West Africa) and of three modern African states (Angola, Congo-Brazzaville, and Congo-Kinshasa). See also the separate Oxford Bibliographies articles on Angola, Kongo and the Coastal States of West Central Africa, Congo, Republic of (Congo Brazzaville), and Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire). A sampling of New World Kongo settings are found in Jamaica, Brazil, Haiti, and Cuba as well as along the Georgia and Carolina coasts and in New Orleans in the United States—nations, regions, or localities that originate in the spheres of British, Portuguese, French, Spanish, and American colonialism, respectively.

Article.  15165 words. 

Subjects: African History ; African Languages ; African Music ; African Philosophy ; African Studies

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