The Yoruba are one of the largest African ethnic groups – descendants from a variety of West African communities. They are, in fact, not a single group, but rather a collection of diverse people bound together by a common language, history, and culture.
During the period of African Slavery, from the late 1500’s to the late 1800’s, millions of Yoruba people were forcibly taken out of Africa. Their numbers dwindled and so did their land area. After Slavery, the European powers, such as: the British; French; Dutch; Spanish and Portuguese, divided the continent of Africa and imposed new countries and languages in Africa.
The Yoruba people suffered greatly and were divided. Their people were scattered all over the Americas – speaking different languages, such as: Spanish, English, Dutch, French, and Portuguese.
Yoruba Culture in the Americas
During the period of African slavery, millions of African people including the Yoruba, were forcibly brought to the Americas. The Yoruba and many other African people worked as slaves on the plantations of different European nations:
- The Spanish plantations in South America, Central America, Cuba, Hispaniola.
- The British plantations in the English speaking Caribbean.
- The American plantations in the American South.
- The Dutch plantations in the Dutch Caribbean and South America.
- The French plantations in the Caribbean, including Haiti.
As slaves, the Yoruba people were no longer free. They were not allowed to practice their religion, play their instruments, which was integral to their worship, or engage in any other religious Yoruba practices. They were forced into European religions.
Far away from home, the Yoruba had only themselves and what was in their hearts, their religion, their God.
Yoruba civilization has had a significant impact on the culture and make up of Latin America, in particular, Cuba, Haiti, Brazil, Trinidad and Puerto Rico. Most of the Yoruba in today’s America, originated from what is today’s Nigeria, Benin and Togo.