Persistence of African languages and religions in Latin America since slavery

  • Ndapewa Fenny Nakanyete University of Namibia
Keywords: African languages, spiritual practices, African-based religions, African slaves, African traditions


This paper examines the presence of African languages and spiritual practices of Candomblé, Santería and Vodou religions in Brazil, Cuba and Haiti respectively. The three religions are known to have been originated by African slaves that were mostly captured in- and transferred from West and Central Africa to Latin America. Currently, the three religions are not only followed by African descendants, but also by people of various ethnic backgrounds worldwide. Thus, people flock to the three countries regularly to be initiated into this African-based religions and cultures. On the other hand, similar spiritual practices on the African continent seem to be generally stigmatized if not demonized. Findings presented in this paper are as a result of direct observations and open interviews over a four months of fieldwork, as well as desktop reviews of existing literature. The findings demonstrate etymologies of terms and expressions that are of various African languages origin and are used in the three religions. The paper calls for integral comparative studies of parts in Africa with parts of Latin America to auxiliary identify linguistic and spirituality similarities, and significance roles of African slaves in maintaining African traditions.


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How to Cite
Nakanyete, N. F. (2018). Persistence of African languages and religions in Latin America since slavery. JULACE: Journal of the University of Namibia Language Centre, 3(1), 80-94. Retrieved from

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