The impact of Africans in the New World can be seen in Robert Farris Thompson’s Flash of the Spirit. Thompson, basically, looks at art and culture in five African civilizations - Yoruba, Kongo, Ejagham, Mande and Cross River - and shows how these civilizations are maintained in the New World, which includes the United States, Cuba, Haiti, Trinidad, Mexico, Brazil and other places. Furthermore, he demonstrates how African traditions are melded with those of Protestantism and Catholicism (a process called synchronism), creating a new belief system in the New World. In the following, I will focus on the art and culture of Yoruba and Kongo and show how these beliefs are synchronized into the New World.
First, Thompson explores the art and ideals of Yoruba, which consists of Africa’s largest population. Candomble is a synonym for African religion or the religion of the Yoruba blacks. He explains how the Yoruba worship numerous deities, all of whom are a manifestation of ashe, the power-to-make-things-happen. There are thousands of deities or orishain Yoruba territory, but only the most worshipped have survived the Atlantic Trade, such as Ifa, god of divination, Ogun, lord of iron, Oshun, god of hunting, and various other deities. Many representations of these gods and goddesses are found in Yoruba art, which has made a deep impact on black urban populations in the New World. For example, Ogun, who is believed to have cleared primordial forests with his iron, is honored by liturgical jewelry, iron or brass. In Cuba, Ogun art takes the form of a bucket-shaped iron cauldron (caldero de ogun). Such objects contain various ironworks, such as nails and iron bows and arrows. Also, the Cuban migration to North America has started the development of caldero de ogun tradition in Miami and New York. Despite attempts to stifle Yoruba culture, Yoruba art, rich in detail and emblematic power, continues to flourish in the New World.
Going beyond Yoruba, Thompson focuses on Kongo and its influence on the black Atlantic world. He starts out by stating that Kongo spelled with a K instead of a C distinguishes Kongo civilization and Bokongo people from non-Kongo people. He, then, explains the Kongo cosmogram, which is in the form of a cross (associated with Christianity). God is imagined at the top, the dead at the bottom, and water in between. At the points of the cross, there are four discs, which represent the four moments of the sun - dawn, noon, sunset, and midnight. Also, the circumference of the cross symbolizes reincarnation. Basically, the Bakongo believe in the continuity of a man’s life, and that it constitutes a cycle, even after death. A connection exists between this cosmogram and similarly chalked signs of initiation among Kongo people in the New World. For instance, in the Americas, the Kongo cosmogram emerges as singing and drawing points of contact between worlds. Also, Thompson shows how the cosmograms of Kongo has reappeared in the Americas in the minkisi charm. Minkisi is an object used in black Atlantic art in healing a person from sickness and other phenomena. For example, in Cuba, minkisi-figurines have been used to attack slaveholders and other enemies in the nineteenth century. Therefore, the presence of Kongo drawings and art is reflected in the New World.
In conclusion, African tradition and culture has not died out among black people in the New World, despite many attempts to extinguish it. It continues to flourish in many forms, such as in art and drawing, making a strong impact upon the black populations of the world.
The following sites each had their own good and bad points. I did not find any sites that were exceptionally bad or good.