Mandinka Empire

Topics: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade, West Africa Pages: 59 (21562 words) Published: May 15, 2013
Bound to Africa: the Mandinka Legacy in the New World
Schaffer, Matt.

History in Africa, Volume 32, 2005, pp. 321-369 (Article)

Published by African Studies Association DOI: 10.1353/hia.2005.0021

For additional information about this article
http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/hia/summary/v032/32.1schaffer.html

Access Provided by your local institution at 03/10/13 1:43PM GMT

BOUND TO AFRICA: THE MANDINKA LEGACY IN THE NEW WORLD
MATT SCHAFFER I I offer here a theory of “cultural convergence,” as a corollary to Darwin’s natural selection, regarding how slave Creoles and culture were formed among the Gullah and, by extension, supported by other examples, in the Americas. When numerous speakers from different, and sometimes related, ethnic groups have words with similar sounds and evoke related meanings, this commonality powers the word into Creole use, especially if there is commonality with Southern English or the host language. This theory applies to cultural features as well, including music. Perhaps the most haunting example of my theory is that of “massa,” the alleged mispronunciation by Southern slaves of “master.”1 Massa is in fact the correct Bainouk and Cassanga ethnic group pronunciation of mansa, the famous word used so widely among the adjacent and dominant Mande peoples in northern and coastal west Africa to denote king or boss. In this new framework, the changes wrought by Mandinka, the Mande more broadly, and African culture generally on the South, are every bit as significant as the linguistic infusions of the Norman Conquest into what became English. Long before studying the Mandinka as an anthropologist in west Africa, I was exposed to their legacy in the United States through my contact with the Gullah of Saint Simons Island, Georgia, my home town. The correlation between a white minority and the Mandification of the 1

See Djinns, Stars and Warriors, Mandinka Legends from Pakao, Senegal, published by Brill Press in 2003, containing oral traditions I collected in 1972 and 1974 in the Pakao region of middle Casamance in southern Senegal. This volume is a companion book to my basic ethnography of the Mandinka first published in 1980 and kept in print since 1987. Of the many people who helped me with this article, I want to single out Michael Coolen and Judith Carney for special thanks. I’m also grateful to National Geographic and the Rhodes Trust for funding my fieldwork. History in Africa 32 (2005), 321–369

322

Matt Schaffer

English language during the slave era might be obvious to some and terrifying to others. My recently completed work on Mandinka oral traditions lays some of the groundwork for this hypothesis by providing texts that, on close examination, do seem to have some resemblance to select slave vocabulary and diction in America. I propose that the Southern accent, depsite all its varieties, is essentially an African-American slave accent, and possibly a Mandinka accent, with other African accents, along with the colonial British accent layered in. The purpose of this paper is to consider the implications of an observation made about the practice of slavery in North America and to ask whether this view might be extended to the rest of the Americas. The observation is Philip Curtin’s conclusion, after sifting through the immense number of sources available to him, that “South Carolina planters . . . had strong ethnic preferences in the Charleston slave market. They preferred above all to have slaves from the Senegambia, which meant principally Bambara and Malinke from the interior [both are Mande] . . . and they generally have a preference against short people” especially from the Bight of Biafra.2 In the present paper, Curtin’s observation becomes the first in a chain of facts and informed speculation that reveal a pattern of Mandification of Southern English. While the notorious Charleston market was not the only slave port in the U.S., it was a major port and was involved...

Bibliography: Angarica, Nicolas Valentin. 1955? [n.d.] Manuel de Oriate, Religion Lucumi. Cuba Alexis, G. 1970. Lecture en anthropologie haïtienne. Port-au-Prince. Araújo, Alceu Maynard and José Lanzelloti. n.d. Brasil Histórias, costumes e lendas. São Paulo. Austin, Allen D. 1984. African Muslims in Antebellum America, A Sourcebook. New York. Bailey, Cornelia Walker. 2000. God, Dr. Buzzard and the Bolito Man. New York. Ball, Edward. 1998. Slaves in the Family. New York. Bell, Malcolm. 1987. Major Butler’s Legacy, Five Generations of a SlaveHolding Family. Athens. Benedetti, Hector Angel. 1997. Antología de Tangos. Buenos Aires. Brandon, George. 1997. The Dead Sell Memories—Santaria from Africa to the New World. Bloomington. Brown, David H. 2003. Santeria Enthroned: Art, Ritual, and Innovation in Afro-Cuban Religion. Chicago. Bühnen, Stephan. 1993. Ethnic Origins of Peruvian Slaves (1548-1650): Figures for Upper Guinea. Paideuma 39:57-110. Campbell, Carl. 1975. John Mohammed Bath and the Free Mandingoes in Trinidad: the Question of their Repatriation to Africa 1831-38. Journal of African Studies 4:467-95. Carney, Judith. 2001. Black Rice, The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas. Cambridge, MA. —. 2003. The African Antecedents of Uncle Ben in U.S. Rice History, Journal of Historical Geography, 29:1-21. Cassidy, Frederic G. n.d. Sources of the African Element in Gullah. Studies in Caribbean Language, ed. Lawrence D. Carrington et al. St. Augustine, Trinidad, 75-81. Coolen, Michael T. 1991. Senegambian Influences on Afro-American Musical Culture. Black Music Research Journal 11:1-18. Cosentino, Donald J. 1995. Sacred Arts of the Haitian Vodou. Los Angeles. Curtin, Philip. 1967. Africa Remembered. Madison. —. 1969. The Atlantic Slave Trade. Madison.
368
Matt Schaffer
Dalby, David. 1970. Black through White, Patterns of Communication. Bloomington. Dent, Ophelia Troup. Memoirs of Ophelia Troup Dent. Archives of Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation. 6 August 1902. Diouf, Sylvane. 1998. Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas. New York. Donnan, Elizabeth. 1930-35. Documents Illustrative of the History of the Slave Trade to America. 4 vols. Washington. DuBois, W. E. B. 1946/47. The World and Africa. New York. Edwards, Bryan. 1983[1793]. The History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indes, as excerpted in After Africa, ed. Roger D. Abraham and John F. Szwed. New Haven. Fernandes, Valentim. 1951. Description de la Côte Occidentale d’Afrique (Sénégal au Cap de Monte Archipel). ed T. Monod, A. Texeira da Mota, and R. Mauny. Bissau. Fletcher, Andria, 1977. The Gambia. Covina. Geggus, David P. 2002. Haitian Revolutionary Studies. Bloomington. Hecquard, Hyacinthe. 1855. Voyage sur la Côte et dans l’intérieur de l’Afrique Occidentale. Paris. Jagfors, Ulf. Winter 2003-04. The African Akonting and the Origin of the Banjo. The Old-Time Herald, A Magazine Dedicated to Old-Time Music 9/2:26-33. Jobson, Richard. 1968[1623]. The Golden Trade. London. Johnson, Guy, Mary Granger et al. 1986[1940]. Drums and Shadows. Athens, GA. Kuyk, Betty M. 2003. African Voices in the African American Heritage. Bloomington. Lovejoy, Paul. 2003. “The Yoruba Factor in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.” Paper presented at the African Studies Association Annual Meeting. Meireles, Cecília. 1983/2003. Batuque, samba, and Macumba Drawings of Gestures and Rhythms. São Paulo. Mollien, Gaspard. 1967[1820]. Travels in the Interior of Africa. London. Moore, Francis. 1738. Travels into Inland Parts of Africa. London. Najman, C. 1995. Haiti, Dieu seul me voit. Paris. Nishida, Mieko. 2003. Slavery and Identity, Ethnicity, Gender and Race in Salvador, Brazil, 1808-1888. Bloomington. Park, Mungo. 1971[1799/1815]. Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa. New York. Parrish, Lydia. 1942. Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands. New York. Pennington, Patience. 1913. A Woman Rice-Planter. New York.
The Mandinka Legacy in The New World
369
Pollitzer, William S. 1999. The Gullah People and Their African Heritage. Athens, GA. Reis, João José. 1993. Slave Rebellion in Brazil, the Muslim Uprising in 1835 in Bahia. Baltimore. Rout, Leslie B. 1976. The African Experience in Spanish America. New York. Schaffer, Matt. 1975. Pakao Book. African Languages/Langues Africaines 1:96-123. — and Christine Cooper. 1987. Mandinko, The Ethnography of a West African Holy Land. Prospect Heights, IL. —. 2003. Djinns, Stars and Warriors, Mandinka Legends from Pakao, Senegal. Leiden. Shevoroshkin, Vitaly. 1990. The Mother Tongue: How Linguists have Reconstructed The Ancestor of All Living Languages. The Sciences May/June:20-27. Turner, Lorenzo. 1973. Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect. Ann Arbor. —. 2002. Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect. Columbia, SC. Turner, Richard. 1997. Islam in the African American Experience. Bloomington. Vydrine, Valentin. 1998. Sur l’écriture mandingue et mande en caractères arabes (mandinka, bambara, soussou, mogofin). Mandenkan 33:1-87. — and T.G. Bergman, Cartographer Matthew Benjamin. 2001, updated 2003. Mande Language Family of West Africa: Location and Genetic Classification. website of MANSA, the Mande Studies Association. Wafer, Jim. 1991. The Taste of Blood, Spirit Possession in Brazilian Candomble. Philadelphia. Washington, John. 1838. Some Account of Mohammedu Sisei, a Mandingo, of Niani-Mara in the Gambia. Journal of the Royal Geographcal Society 8:449-54. Wepman, Denis, Ronald B. Newman, and Murray B. Binderman. 1976. The Life: The Lore and Folk Poetry of the Black Hustler. Philadelphia. Wylly, Charles S. 1915. The Story of Sapeloe. Typescript in the University Libraries of Georgia, Marine Institute, Sapelo Island.
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Songhai Empire Essay
  • Complex Society in the Malian Empire Essay
  • British Empire Essay
  • Essay about African Kingdoms: The Songhai Empire
  • British Empire Essay
  • Essay about Spanish and Ottoman Empires
  • African Kingdoms and Empires Essay
  • The Greatest Islamic Empire Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free
The Devils Advocate Free Movie Download HD Download The Devils Advocate in 720p BluRay (652 MB)↓   The Devils Advocate Free Movie Download HD . Devil's Advocate specifically raises the relational word that 'is winning everything' in the legitimate profession.Does a legal advisor confers the fundamental sin of Vanity on the off chance that he trusts his employment is to win, as Kevin does. Encourage the motion picture in ... | Underworld Evolution 2006 Dual Audio Hindi 720p BluRay 850mb | Our School Of Life