Monday, 25 August 2014


                  BLACK                 SOCIAL               HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Afro-Dominican is a subjective term which can be defined as a Dominican of full Black African descent or a Dominican of partial Black African descent. Usually, the term refers to a Dominican of full or predominant Black African ancestry, which is represented by most of the Dominican population.[1] Since the Dominican Republic is a very ethnically and racially diverse nation and the majority of the Dominican population is made up of mixed race persons, those who are mixed with African ancestry (73% of the population) would usually not be identified as being an Afro-Latino in the Dominican Republic. The majority of Afro-Dominicans descend from West Africans and Central Africans who arrived from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century as a result of slavery,[2] while many others descend from immigrants who came from the Lesser Antilles during the 20th century.
Currently there are also many black immigrants, particularly Haitians,[3][4][5] who can be included within the Afro-Dominican demographics if they were born in the country or have Dominican naturalization. Afro-Dominicans of predominant African descent make up a significant minority of the country's population, with Dominicans of mixed or partial African ancestry making up the vast majority of the population.


In 1503, with the conquest and colonization of the island, the Spanish began to import large numbers of African slaves to replace the native labor, greatly reduced by wars, brutal working conditions and epidemics. About 80 or 90% of the native population died in the first century of the conquest. Meanwhile between 1492 and 1870 some 30,000 Africans were imported to the current Dominican territory to be devoted to sugar.[6]
In 1503, arrived the first African slaves to the Española Island, mostly to the present Dominican Republic, since Spain had largely neglected the west of the island. This first slaves were Black Ladinos, i.e. born in Spain and Christianized[7] and arrived as servants for the home of the island´s Spanish elite.[8] However, the number of slaves imported to the island was already sufficient for developed rebellions and escapes to the mountains by themselves. The rebels Africans lived with the indigenous in shelters away from urban centers.[9] Even so, in 1510, were imported to the island others 250 Ladino slaves[7] and in 1511, arrived others 5.000 African slaves to the shores of the island.[8] In addition, with the establishment of the world's first sugar mill on the Española island in 1516, the importation of African slaves greatly increased.
The slaves brought to Santo Domingo came from various parts of Africa and therefore belonged to different cultures. Although in the early days the slaves were Ladino, as traffic and intensified trade and colonial authorities demanded more slave labor for plantations and other housekeeping, were allowed introduction of black "bozales", i.e. slaves imported directly from Africa. In 1522 took place on the island, the first major slave rebellion,[7] rebellion led by 20 Muslims of Wolof origin, originating from Senegal, in an ingenio (sugar factory) of east of Santo Domingo island[8] Many of the insurgents fled to the mountains and established what would become the first autonomous community African Maroon in America.[7] However, after the success of this revolt, slave revolts continued to emerge. So, emerged some leaders of African slaves, although already baptized by the Spanish, as is the case of Juan Vaquero, Diego de Guzmán and Diego del Campo. His rebellion led many slaves to flee their oppressors and establish many communities in the South West, North and East of the island, causing the first arrival of slaves, but free, in the current Haiti (remember that although this part of the island was also Spanish until 1697, when it was sold to France, had no Spanish people living in it). This caused some concern among slaveholders and contributed to the Spanish emigration to other places. Thus, although sugarcane increased profitability in the island, the number of imported slaves who fled into it, continued to rise, mixing with Taíno indigenous of these regions. So, in 1530, Maroon bands already were considered dangerous to the Spanish colonists, so they had to carry large armed groups to travel outside the plantations and leaving the large part of the center and north of the island, very mountainous regions, where the Maroons lived (it was so, until 1654 with the conquest of Jamaica by Corsairs of British Admiral William Pennand general Robert Venables). However, due to the discovery of precious metals in South America, the Spanish abandoned their migration to the island of Santo Domingo to emigrate to South America and Mexico in order to get rich, for they did not find much wealth in Santo Domingo. Thus, also abandoned the slave trade, that is, they stopped exporting slaves to the island. This led to the collapse of the colony in poverty.[7] Anyway, during those years, slaves were forced to build a cathedral that in time became the most oldest in America. They build their monastery, first hospital and the Alcázar de Colón. In the 1540s, the Spanish authorities ordered the African slaves building a wall to defend the city from attacks by pirates who ravaged the islands. They also built the Puerta de las Lamentaciones (in Spanish: Gate of Mercy).[8]
After 1700, with the arrival of new Spanish colonists, African slaves imported was renovated. In both plantations and isolated villages of runaways from east of the island, the population began to focus more on livestock and the importance of racial caste division was reduced, so that began to develop a mix between the Spanish colonists, African slaves and the natives of this part from Santo Domingo.[7] This domain mixing together the social, cultural and economic European element will form the basis of national identity of Dominicans.[10] It is estimated that the population of the colony in 1777 was 400,000, of which 100,000 were Europeans and Criollos, 60,000 African, 100.000 mestizo s, 60,000Zambos and 100,000 mulatto.[7]
At the end of the eighteenth century, arrived also to Spanish Santo Domingo, fugitive slaves from the French colony of the western part of the island, usually composed of black fugitives, escaped from the rigors of their masters, and that fed the Spanish colony since the time initial establishment of the French on the island. These slaves came directly from Africa, and in some cases they even form communities such as San Lorenzo de Los Mina, who is now district or sector of the city of Santo Domingo. Also, coming slaves from other parts of the West Indies, especially from the Lesser Antilles, dominated by French, English, Dutch, etc.[11]
In 1801 Haitian leader Toussaint Louverture, who had occupied the east of Santo Domingo, abolished slavery in the place, as had happened in the west of the island, freeing about 40,000 slaves, and prompting most people who formed the elite of that part of the island flee to Cuba and Puerto Rico. However, when the Spanish recovered it, Spanish Santo Domingo re-established slavery in 1809.[8] During those years, the French governor Ferrand imported a second group of Haitian slaves, brought by in order to use them in founding the Puerto Napoleon (Samana), French colonial enclave. There was no running for the defeat of the French.[12]
The abolition of the slavery was made in 1822, during the Haitian occupation of the Dominican territory, started in February, 1822.[8][11]
Between 1824, began to arrived African American freed people to Santo Domingo, benefiting from the favorable pro-African immigration policy of Haitian president Jean Pierre Boyer since 1822. This settlers were established in Puerto Plata Province and the Samaná Peninsula —then under Haitian administration. They were called Samaná Americans.
Later, in 1844, two Afro Dominicans, Francisco del Rosario Sánchez and Matías Ramón Mella, freed the country alongside with Juan Pablo Duarte, of Haitian domain.[11]
More late, between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, was developed a traffic black workers from the British West Indies in the first third of this century to work in the sugar plantations of the east of the island, and whose descendants are known today with the name of Cocolos.[9]
After, many Haitian people began to settle in the Dominican Republic, a migration that has continued until today.

Region of embarkment, 1503–1870Amount %
Senegambia (Wolof)7.9
Sierra Leone (Zape)4.5
Windward Coast6.7
Gold Coast (Akan, Bran)5.5
Bight of Benin (YorubaAja, Terranova)12.4
Bight of Biafra (IgboKalabari16.1
West-central Africa (KongoMbundu)47.0
Southeast Africa0.0
The slave trade involved nearly all of Africa's west coast inhabitants to be forcibly taken to the new world. Most slaves tended to come from mostly the Kongo people of West-Central Africa (present-day AngolaRepublic of Congo and theDemocratic Republic of the Congo), along with the Igbo (originating from west from Nigeria), YorubaAkan and Mandinkatribes.
Others African ethnic groups arrived to Spanish Santo Domingo during the slavery´s period were: Wolof (imported fromSenegal), Aja (also called Ararás in Santo Domingo and imported from Dahomey, current Benin), Ambundu (from theKingdom of Ndongo, in north Angola), Bran (originating from Brong-Ahafo Region, west from Ghana), FulbeKalabari(originating from slave port from Calabar, in Nigeria), Terranova (slaves bought probably in Porto-Novo, Benin), Zape (originating from Sierra Leone), Bambara and Biafada (this latter was originating from Guinea-Bissau) people.
The Wolof were imported to Spanish Santo Domingo from Senegal in the first half of the sixteenth century, until the import of this ethnic group was prohibited after his rebellion in 1522.[7] Many of the slaves were also Ajas, usually taken inWhydah, Benin. The Ajas arrived in Santo Domingo, were well known for having made religious brotherhoods, integrated exclusively for them, as the call San Cosme and San Damian.[14]


School on a batey near Consuelo,Dominican Republic (April 1998)
The National Institute of Statistics (INE) does not collect racial data since the Census of 1960.[15] In that census, the ethnic features were obtained by direct observation of the people registered by the enumerator, without any questions asked. About 73% (7,365,700 of people) of the population was classified as mestizo (note that in the 1920, 1935, 1950 and 1960 censuses referred to mixed-race people as mestizo, never as mulatto),[15] 16% was classified as white, and 11% was classified as black (1,109,900 of people).[15] It is estimated, that between 70[citation needed]-90[16] percent of Dominicans have African ancestry. Dominican Republic is one of the few countries in the world where the majority of the population is made up of Mulattoes (African/European mixed).
So based on these figures, the Afro-Dominican are at least, 8,475,600 people in the Dominican Republic (although could have also some White Afro-Dominicans). Although most of Afro-Dominicans are descendants of slaves imported in the country and they speak Spanish, there also two Afro communities that have English as their mother tongue: Samaná Americans and Cocolos. Samaná Americans, descendants, as already we said, of American rebel slaves who entered the country in 1824, because to the favorable pro-African immigration policy of Haitian president Jean Pierre Boyer, constitute the most sizable group of native English speakers in the Dominican Republic and living in Puerto Plata Province and in the Samaná Peninsula. Aware of its distinctive heritage, the community, whose singular culture distinguishes them from the rest of Dominicans, refers to itself as Samaná Americans, and is referred to by fellow Dominicans as "los americanos de Samaná." Another Afro group is the called Cocolo, descendants of those who came to the island from the English-speaking Caribbean to work in the sugar plantations of the east of the island between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and living in San Pedro de Macorís. It is also important the community of Haitian origin, which is the largest immigrant community in the country and is formed, according to some estimates, by more than 1,100,000 people.[17]
The 1920 Census registered 8,305 West Indians born abroad (they and their descendants are known as Cocolos) and 28,258 Haitians;[18] the 1935 Census registered almost 9,272 West Indians and 52,657 Haitians.[19] The Haitian population decreased to 18,772 in the 1950 Census,[19] as an aftermath of the Parsley Massacre.[19]

Geographic distribution

Though, African ancestry is prevalent throughout the Dominican Republic, it is most prevalent in eastern areas such as San Pedro de MacorísSanto DomingoSan CristóbalLa Romana, and the Samaná Peninsula, as well as along the Haitian border, particularly southern parts of the border region. However, it is least prevalent in the Cibao Valley, especially within the interior of the region.

Dominican Republic’s provinces where people of Antillean, Bahamian, and U.S. ancestry predominates.
Dominicans of African-Antillean and African-American ancestry lives concentrated in Puerto Plata, Samaná, Hato Mayor (specially in Sabana de la Mar, Guayabo Dulce-Los Hatillos, and Matapalacio), San Pedro de Macorís, La Romana and La Altagracia (particularly in Punta Cana and Bávaro) provinces.
Dominicans of Haitian ancestry lives scattered across the country, however, it may be note communities in the border provinces of Elías Piña and Independence where they predominate among the population, highlighting the presence of European football fields, a very popular sport in Haiti.

Haitian immigration

Haitian immigration is the most important of the immigrations to the Dominican Republic.
The reasons that drive Haitians to migrate to the Dominican Republic are fundamentally the poverty. Haiti is much poorer than the Dominican Republic. So, in 2003, 80% of all Haitians were poor (54% in extreme poverty) and 47.1% were illiterate. The country of nine million people has a fast-growing population, but over two-thirds of the jobs lack the formal workforce. Haiti's GDP per capita was $ 1,300 in 2008, or less than one-sixth of the Dominican figure.[20] As a result, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have migrated to the Dominican Republic, with some estimates of 800,000 Haitians in the country,[21] while others believe they are more than a million. Usually working in low paid and unskilled in building construction, household cleaning, and in plantations.[22]
Children of illegal Haitian immigrants are often stateless s and they are denied services, as their parents are denied Dominican nationality, and therefore are considered transient residents, due to their illegal status and undocumented, and children often have to choose only Haitian nationality.[23]
A large number of Haitian women, often arriving with several health problems, cross the border to Dominican soil during their last weeks of pregnancy to obtain necessary medical care for childbirth, since Dominican public hospitals cannot deny medical services based on nationality or legal status. Statistics from a hospital in Santo Domingo report that over 22% of births are to mothers.
In 1937, Trujillo, in an event known as the Masacre Perejil (Parsley Massacre), ordered the Army to kill Haitians living on the border because, according it is believed, to his rejection to Haitians due he believed they were of a "inferior race" and his desire to try to stop its massive emigration to his country (however, actually were other factors, both political and economic that led the tyrant to grant enforcement of genocide). The Army killed about 17,000 to 35,000 Haitians over six days, from the night of October 2, 1937 to October 8, 1937. To avoid leaving evidence of the Army's involvement, the soldiers used machetes instead of bullets. The soldiers of Trujillo interrogated anyone with dark skin, using the shibboleth "parsley" to differentiate Haitians from Dominicans when necessary, the "r" of parsley was difficult pronunciation for Haitians. As a result of the slaughter, the Dominican Republic agreed pay to Haiti the amount of $ 750,000, later reduced to $ 525,000. The genocide sought to be justified on the pretext of fearing infiltration, but was actually also a retaliation, commented on both in national currencies, as well as having been informed by the Military Intelligence Service (the dreaded SIM), the government Haitian cooperating with a plan that sought to overthrow Dominican exiles.
In 2005 Dominican President Leonel Fernández criticized collective expulsions of Haitians were "improperly and inhumane." After a delegation from the United Nations issued a preliminary report stating that it found a profound problem of racism and discrimination against people of Haitian origin, the Chancellor Dominican Carlos Morales Troncoso gave a formal statement saying "Our border with Haiti has its problems, this is our reality, and this must be understood. It's important not to confuse national sovereignty with indifference, and not to confuse security with xenophobia[24] "
After the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, the number of Haitians doubled to 2 million, most of them illegally crossed after the border opened for international aid. Human Rights Watch estimated in 70,000 Haitian immigrants legal and 1,930,000 illegal living in Dominican Republic.

Cultural Contributions[edit]

African cultural remnants seen in Santo Domingo in many different aspects: music, dance, magic-religious beliefs, cuisine, economy, entertainment, motor habits, language, etc.


The African influence in the Dominican language is strong especially in the phonetics, grammar, and syntax, it is still possible to trace many words imported black slave and have entered the popular lexicon. A large part of these words is common to other West Indian countries such as Cuba and Puerto Rico. We cite, among others, the words bemba, bachata, guineo, quimbamba, añangotarse, etc.[9]


Perhaps the greatest influence of African slaves is observed in music and dance. Such influence comes from the dances, that like the calenda, practiced in Santo Domingo, as elsewhere in America, from the early years of slavery. We must Father Labat, who toured the West Indies in the eighteenth century, a fairly thorough calenda.[9]
This dance derives, according to research by the folklorist Fradique Lizardo, several Dominican popular rhythms. One of the most widespread is the Música de palos (Music of sticks), name that designates both the pace and the membranophones used. National Rhythms with obvious African imprint are sarandunga,[9] Música de Gagá (Ganga's music, arrived from Haiti), Baile de Palos (dance of Sticks), Música de Congos (Music of Congos), Cantos de Hacha (Songs of axe),[25] los congosla jaiba (the crab), el chenche matriculado (the chenche enrolled), etc. The salve, which in the words of the American ethnomusicologist Martha Davis, is the most typical of the traditional genres Dominicans, has two styles: one distinctly Spanish, amétrico and antiphonal, and another polyrhythmic, strongly hybridized between the Spanish and African styles. Among African instruments include los palos (the sticks), balsié, the gallumba, etc.[9]
It is important to also mark other musical instruments Dominicans of African origin such as the Palo mayor (mainmast), the canoita, los timbales (present in the bachata, also called bongos), and the tambora (Key instrument in the merengue music, the Dominican national dance).[26]
For his part, the Bachata is a hybrid of the bolero (especially the bolero rhythm) of the Dominican Republic with other musical influences of African origin and other musical styles like the son, the merengue and the chachachá.[27]
On the other hand, there are also music genres Dominican widespread across the country, whose origin is uncertain, being considered of Spanish and African origin, depending of musicologists and historians. Such is the case of the merengue music. So, Luis Alberti, one of the musicians considered as fathers of Merengue, thinks that the roots of this music genre are purely Spanish. F. Lizardo, Dominican folklorist, by contrast, thinks that this origin is in the Bara tribe of Madagascar, who came to the island in the eighteenth century and brought a dance called Merengue that has spread throughout the Caribbean. A very similar pace, adds Lizardo, arrived today with the Yoruba of Dahomey. In the African polyrhythm was also the Merengue. Also often linked to the origin of Merengue a dance called URPA or UPA, a native of Havana and arrived in the Dominican Republic between 1838 and 1849. The dace sailed through the Caribbean coming to Puerto Rico where he was well received. One of the movements of this dance is called merenguewhich apparently is the way selected to call the dance, and came to the Dominican Republic where he evolved into the genre of Merengue. However, the Cuban UPA is also a dance whose origin appears to be in West Africa. In fact, in early ls, despite its rise among the masses, the upper class did not accept the Merengue for long, because apparently, their connection with African music. Another cause that weighed on the repudiation and attacks the Merengue were literary texts that accompany it, usually risqué.[28]
Dominican folk music is intimately tied to religious culture, and interpreted primarily in the fiesta de santos (party of saints), also known, according the area of the country, asvelaciones (vigils), velas (candles) o noches de vela (sleepless nights). Other popular rhythms are obvious Spanish origin, as mangulina and carabiné.[9]


Although most Afro-Dominican are Roman Catholics, magical-religious beliefs prevails among Dominicans. Layers reflect African Christian syncretism operated since colonial times. The most characteristic feature is the Dominican voodoo that relates directly to the magical activity.
The Dominican magic is a collection of beliefs and rituals of African and European origin. The classic witches and characteristics that surround them are Spanish. From Europe comes the superstition of the evil eye, the alleged existence of loup-garou and numerous spells and charms, not to mention most of divination.
Funeral rites contain many features of African descent that are shared with other American countries. A typical example is the baquiní o velorio del angelito.[9]

Institutions and cuisine

In the economic field include various institutions of mutual aid, existing both in the fields and in the cities. In rural areas, these institutions are in the form of groups of farmers who come together to collaborate on certain agricultural tasks such as planting, clearing of forests, land preparation, etc. Are called juntas (boards) o convites and have similar characteristics to Haitian combite closely related to the dokpwe of the Fon people of Dahomey. These tasks are accompanied by songs and musical instruments that serve as encouragement and coordination at work. All board members are required to reciprocate the assistance and collaboration in the work of others. After the day is a festival that is the responsibility of the landowner.[9]
Another institution of mutual aid, of African origin, is revolving credit system that goes by the name of St. corresponding to esusu and Yoruba. As in Nigeria and other parts of Afroamerica, the San is composed preferably female. It consists, as is well known, in the establishment of a common fund to which each participant's San, contributes with a sum monthly or weekly. Each partner receives, on a rotating basis, the total value of the box, starting with the organized.
Dominican cuisine and dishes containing products of African origin. Among the former are the guandul, the ñame and the funde. Typical African dishes seem to be the mofongo, prepared with green bananas and derivatives cocola kitchen, the fungí and the calalú. A common drink among the black slaves was the guarapo, which is derived from sugar cane juice.[9]

Amusements and Language

The Cocolos, descendants of black immigrants from the British West Indies, originated some amusement as the practiced by Buloyas or Guloyas and Momis, both in the eastern town of San Pedro de Macoris. The first, according to general opinion, are groups of masks depicting, although of form very degraded, scenes of biblical battle between David and Goliath. The other is a remnant of the English traditions of Mummers Play, brought to the Caribbean islands by the British colonial rulers, plays that were staged at Christmas. The Momis, according Martha Davis, have an aspect of carnival which warn African influences, especially in the costumes and the behavior of its members.
Certain playground practiced until recently have been reported by the investigator Veloz Maggiolo as of African origin. They are the fufu, made up of a large button and a thread that goes through two holes of the button, the castanets of sticks, the horn, made from a box of phosphorus and a "cajita" ("little box").
The African influence in the Dominican language is very noticeable, especially in the phonetics, vocabulary and syntax, it is still also possible to trace many words imported black slave and have entered the popular lexicon. Many of these words are common to other West Indian countries such as Cuba and Puerto Rico. We cite, among others, the voices Bemba, bachata, banana, Quimbamba, añangotarse, etc.[9]


African slaves were forced to build a cathedral that in time became the most oldest in America. They build their monastery, first hospital and the Alcázar de Colón. In the 1540s, the Spanish authorities ordered the African slaves building a wall to defend the city from attacks by pirates who ravaged the islands. They also built the Puerta de las Lamentaciones (in Spanish: Gate of wailing).[8]