African diaspora

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African diaspora
African people around the world.svg
Total population
c. 140 million[1][2][3][4][5]
Regions with significant populations
 Brazil54,517,000 including multiracial [6][7]
 United States46,300,000 including multiracial[8]
 Colombia4,944,400 including multiracial[10][11][12]
 FranceApproximately 3.3–5.5 million[13]
 Saudi Arabia3,370,000[15]
 United Kingdom1,904,684[17]
 Spain1,191,378, 79% being North African[21]
 Dominican Republic1,138,471[23][24]
 Italy1,091,646, 59% being North African[25]
 Germanyc. 1,000,000[29]
 Trinidad and Tobago452,536[30]
 Russia50,000[41] (est. 2009)
Lingua franca: English, American and Caribbean, French, Canadian, Haitian, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Portuguese, Papiamento and Dutch
Christianity, Islam, Traditional African religions, Afro-American religions

The African diaspora is the worldwide collection of communities descended from native Africans or people from Africa, predominantly in the Americas. The term most commonly refers to the descendants of the West and Central Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas via the Atlantic slave trade between the 16th and 19th centuries, with their largest populations in Brazil, the United States and Haiti.[42][43] However, the term can also be used to refer to the descendants of North Africans who immigrated to other parts of the world. Some[quantify] scholars identify "four circulatory phases" of this migration out of Africa.[44] The phrase African diaspora gradually entered common usage at the turn of the 21st century.[45] The term diaspora originates from the Greek διασπορά (diaspora, literally "scattering") which gained popularity in English in reference to the Jewish diaspora before being more broadly applied to other populations.[46]

Less commonly, the term has been used in scholarship to refer to more recent emigration from sub-Saharan Africa.[47] The African Union (AU) defines the African diaspora as consisting: "of people of native African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union". Its constitutive act declares that it shall "invite and encourage the full participation of the African diaspora as an important part of our continent, in the building of the African Union".[48]


18th-century painting showing a family of Africans.

Dispersal through slave trade[edit]

Much of the African diaspora became dispersed throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia during the Atlantic, Trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean slave trades. Beginning in the 8th century, Arabs took African slaves from the central and eastern portions of the African continent (where they were known as the Zanj) and sold them into markets in the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and the Far East. Beginning in the 15th century, Europeans captured or bought African slaves from West Africa and brought them to the Americas and to Europe. The Atlantic slave trade ended in the 19th century.[49] The dispersal through slave trading represents the largest forced migrations in human history. The economic effect on the African continent proved devastating, as generations of young people were taken from their communities and societies were disrupted. Some communities formed by descendants of African slaves in the Americas, Europe, and Asia have survived to the present day. In other cases, native Africans intermarried with non-native Africans, and their descendants blended into the local population.

In the Americas, the confluence of multiple ethnic groups from around the world contributed to multi-ethnic societies. In Central and South America, most people are descended from European, Amerindian, and African ancestry. In Brazil, where in 1888 nearly half the population descended from African slaves, the variation of physical characteristics extends across a broad range. In the United States, there was historically a greater European colonial population in relation to African slaves, especially in the Northern Tier. There was considerable racial intermarriage in colonial Virginia, and other forms of racial mixing during the slavery and post-Civil War years. Jim Crow and anti-miscegenation laws passed after the 1863–1877 Reconstruction era in the South in the late-19th century, plus waves of vastly increased immigration from Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, maintained much distinction between racial groups. In the early-20th century, to institutionalize racial segregation, most southern states adopted the "one drop rule", which defined and recorded anyone with any discernible African ancestry as "black", even those of obvious majority native European or of majority-Native-American ancestry.[50] One of the results of this implementation was the loss of records of Native-identified groups, who were classified only as black because of being mixed-race.[citation needed]

Dispersal through voluntary migration[edit]

From the very onset of Spanish exploration and colonial activities in the Americas, Africans participated both as voluntary expeditionaries and as slave laborers.[43][51] Juan Garrido was such an African conquistador. He crossed the Atlantic as a freedman in the 1510s and participated in the siege of Tenochtitlan.[52] Africans had been present in Asia and Europe long before Columbus's travels. Beginning in the late 20th century, Africans began to emigrate to Europe and the Americas in increasing numbers, constituting new African diaspora communities not directly connected with the slave trade.[citation needed]

Concepts and definitions[edit]

The African Union defined the African diaspora as "[consisting] of people of native African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union." Its constitutive act declares that it shall "invite and encourage the full participation of the African diaspora as an important part of our continent, in the building of the African Union."

The AU considers the African diaspora as its sixth region.[53]

Between 1500 and 1900, approximately four million enslaved Africans were transported to island plantations in the Indian Ocean as part of the Indian Ocean slave trade, roughly eight million were shipped northwards as part of the Trans-Saharan slave trade, and roughly eleven million were transported to the Americas as part of the Atlantic slave trade.[54] Their descendants are now found around the globe, but because of intermarriage they are not necessarily readily identifiable.

Social and political[edit]

Du Bois looking to the camera
20th-century American philosopher and sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois wrote extensively on the black experience in his homeland and abroad; he spent the last two years of his life in the newly independent Ghana and got citizenship there.

Many scholars have challenged conventional views of the African diaspora as a mere dispersion of African people. For them, it is a movement of liberation that opposes the implications of racialization. Their position assumes that Africans and their descendants abroad struggle to reclaim power over their lives through voluntary migration, cultural production and political conceptions and practices. It also implies the presence of cultures of resistance with similar objectives throughout the global diaspora. Thinkers like W. E. B. Dubois and more recently Robin Kelley, for example, have argued that black politics of survival reveal more about the meaning of the African diaspora than labels of ethnicity and race, and degrees of skin hue. From this view, the daily struggle against what they call the "world-historical processes" of racial colonization, capitalism, and Western domination defines blacks' links to Africa.[55]

African diaspora and modernity[edit]

In the last decades, studies on the African diaspora have shown an interest in the roles that Africans played in bringing about modernity. This trend also opposes the traditional eurocentric perspective that has dominated history books showing Africans and its diasporans as primitive victims of slavery, and without historical agency. According to historian Patrick Manning, blacks toiled at the center of forces that created the modern world. Paul Gilroy describes the suppression of blackness due to imagined and created ideals of nations as "cultural insiderism." Cultural insiderism is used by nations to separate deserving and undeserving groups[56] and requires a "sense of ethnic difference" as mentioned in his book The Black Atlantic. Recognizing their contributions offers a comprehensive appreciation of global history.[57]

Richard Iton's view of diaspora[edit]

Cultural and political theorist Richard Iton suggested that diaspora be understood as a "culture of dislocation." For Iton, the traditional approach to the African diaspora focuses on the ruptures associated with the Atlantic slave trade and Middle Passage, notions of dispersal, and "the cycle of retaining, redeeming, refusing, and retrieving 'Africa.'"[58]: 199  This conventional framework for analyzing the diaspora is dangerous, according to Iton, because it presumes that diaspora exists outside of Africa, thus simultaneously disowning and desiring Africa. Further, Iton suggests a new starting principle for the use of diaspora: "the impossibility of settlement that correlates throughout the modern period with the cluster of disturbances that trouble not only the physically dispersed but those moved without traveling."[58]: 199–200  Iton adds that this impossibility of settlement—this "modern matrix of strange spaces—outside the state but within the empire,"—renders notions of black citizenship fanciful, and in fact, "undesirable." Iton argues that we citizenship, a state of statelessness thereby deconstructing colonial sites and narratives in an effort to "de-link geography and power," putting "all space into play" (emphasis added)[58]: 199–200  For Iton, diaspora's potential is represented by a "rediscursive albeit agonistic field of play that might denaturalize the hegemonic representations of modernity as unencumbered and self-generating and bring into clear view its repressed, colonial subscript".[58]: 201 

Diaspora citizenship[edit]

In the eighth chapter of her book Rihanna Barbados World-Gurl in Global Popular Culture Heather Russell describes diasporic citizenship as an identity where you “simultaneously negotiate the entailments of civic responsibility, public discourse, nostalgia, nationhood, belonging and migration, transnational cultural affiliations and shifting/fluid subject positionalities across material and symbolic boundaries”[59] Musical artists are prime figures to be appraised with this theory due to their acclaim bringing them public discourse and their music bringing cultural affiliations. As such, for musicians who reach this level of transnational stardom and music production, they have to balance their relationship to their identity and their home with the transnational populations they engage with through their music, performance and public image.

Robyn Rihanna Fenty is a global superstar whose music transcends national borders and as such is a perfect case for the diaspora citizen framework. She is one of the few Afro-Caribbean women to achieve this level of global success and gain diasporic citizenship that forces her to balance her identities with her relationship to her diverse viewership.[59] While Rihanna is by no means the first artist, or even the first black female artist to reach this level of stardom, unlike her peers her diasporic citizenship is characterized by her Caribbean identity. In her book, Russel further describes Rihanna's diasporic citizenship by saying:

“Rihanna must navigate inevitably conflicting, contesting and reinforcing sites of national and transnational belongings. In other words, she is a Barbadian citizen shining in a US-global sphere within which most citizens can hardly find Barbados on the map. She is a hugely commercially successful artist operating in a popular-cultural market dictated by US global musical tastes. At the same time, Rihanna is Barbados's honorary ambassador of youth and culture and has signed a multi-year deal to promote Barbados for the Barbados Tourism Authority. Moreover, local discussions surrounding Barbadian national pride, Victorian notions of female propriety and Christian ideas about decency which Rihanna's emergence and ascendancy have provoked, continue to capture the Barbadian public's imaginations and dominate the opinions expressed in their newspaper columns and call-in programmes”[59]

The diaspora citizen theory allows us to better understand the complexities associated with stars like Rihanna whose cultural influence has transcended national borders and created a complex relationship between the artist and the various cultural regions they are associated with.

Populations and estimated distribution[edit]

Map of the African diaspora.
  + 10,000,000
  + 1,000,000
  + 100,000
  + 10,000

African diaspora populations include but are not limited to:

Continent or region Country population Afro-descendants [61] African and African-mixed population
Caribbean 41,309,327 67% 27,654,061
 Saint Kitts and Nevis 39,619 98% 38,827
 Dominica 71,293 96% (87% Black + 9% Mixed) 61,882 + 9,411
 Haiti 10,646,714 95% 10,114,378 + 532,335
 Antigua and Barbuda 78,000 95% 63,000
 Jamaica[62] 2,812,090 92.1% 2,663,614 + 176,417
 Grenada 110,000 91% 101,309
 The Bahamas[63] 332,634 90.6% 301,366
 Barbados 281,968 90% 253,771
 Netherlands Antilles 225,369 85% 191,564
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 118,432 85% 100,667
 Dominican Republic[64][65] 10,090,000 84% (72.9% Mixed + 11% Black) 1,109,900 + 7,365,700
 British Virgin Islands 24,004 83% 19,923
 Saint Lucia 172,884 83% 142,629
 US Virgin Islands 108,210 80% 86,243
 French Guiana 199,509 66% 131,676
 Bermuda 66,536 61% 40,720
 Cayman Islands 47,862 60% 28,717
 Cuba[66] 11,116,396 35.9% 1,003,825 + 2,956,961
 Trinidad and Tobago[67] 1,215,527 34.2% 415,710
 Puerto Rico[68] 3,189,068 12.4% 395,444
South America 388,570,461 N/A N/A
 Suriname 475,996 37% 223,718
 Guyana 770,794 36% 277,486
 Brazil 213,650,000 25,82% (inc. multiracial) 55,550,000
 Colombia[69] 45,925,397 10.6% (inc. mulattoes, palenqueros and other groups) 4,944,400
 Ecuador[70] 13,927,650 5% 680,000
 Paraguay 6,349,000 4% (Mulatto) 222,215
 Uruguay 3,494,382 4% 139,775
 Venezuela[71] 27,227,930 3% (Black) 181,157
 Peru 29,496,000 2% 589,920
 Chile 17,094,270 1% 170,943*
 Bolivia 10,907,778 <1% 54,539
 Argentina 40,091,359 <1% ≈50,000
North America 450,545,368 10% 42,907,538
 United States[72] 328,745,538 12% 42,020,743
 Canada[73] 33,098,932 3% 783,795
 Mexico 108,700,891 1% 1,386,556[19]
Central America 41,283,652 4% 1,453,761
 Belize 301,270 31% 93,394
 Panama 3,292,693 14% 460,977
 Nicaragua 5,785,846 9% 520,726
 Costa Rica 4,195,914 3% 125,877
 Honduras 7,639,327 2% 152,787
 Guatemala 13,002,206 <1% 100,000
 El Salvador 7,066,403 <1% 3,000
Europe 738,856,462 1% < 8,000,000
 France[74][75] 62,752,136 8% (inc. overseas territories) Approximately 3.3–5.5 millions (5–8% of the French population).

It is illegal for the French State to collect data on ethnicity and race.

 United Kingdom 67,886,004 5% (inc. partial) 3,000,000
 Netherlands[citation needed] 16,491,461 3% 507,000
 Belgium 10,666,866 3% ~300,000
 Italy[76][77] 60,795,612 2% 1,036,653
 Portugal 10,605,870 2% 201,200
 Spain 46,064,604 2% 1,045,120
 Germany 82,000,000 1% 529,000 [78]
 Sweden 9,263,872 1% ≈115,000
 Norway[79] 4,858,199 1% 67,000
 Ireland[80] 4,339,000 1% 45,000
  Switzerland[81] 7,790,000 1% 57,000
 Finland 5,340,783 1% 50,000
 Russia[82] 141,594,000 <1% 50,000
 Austria 8,356,707 <1% 15,000
 Ukraine 45,982,000 <1% 14,500
 Hungary[83] 10,198,325 <1% 6,500
 Poland 37,980,000 <1% 5,700
 Belarus 9,640,000 <1% 4,500
Asia 3,879,000,000 <1% ≈327,904
 Israel[84] 7,411,000 3% 200,000
 India[85] 1,132,446,000 <1% 40,000
 Malaysia[86] 28,334,135 <1% 31,904
 Hong Kong 7,200,000 <1% < 20,000[87]
 China[88] 1,321,851,888 <1% 16,000[89]
 Japan[90] 127,756,815 <1% 10,000
 Pakistan 172,900,000 <1% 10,000

The Americas[edit]

Women in white dresses in a semi-circle
Afro-Brazilians celebrating at a ceremony held by the Ministry of Culture.
  • African Americans – There are an estimated 43 million people of black African descent in the United States.
  • Afro-South Americans – There are an estimated 100  million people of African descent living in Latin America[citation needed], including 67 million in South America, making up 28% of Brazil's population, if including multiracial mulatto pardo Brazilians. When including Pardo Brazilians, people of African descent make up a majority of the country. Many also have European and Amerindian ancestry, and are also known as pardo, or mixed race. Brazilians who identify as "black" are mixed to a significant degree, and a minority of them even have a majority of European DNA.[91][92] There are also sizeable African-descended populations in Cuba, Haiti, Colombia and Dominican Republic, often with ancestry of other major ethnic groups.
  • Afro-Caribbeans – The population in the Caribbean is approximately 23 million. Significant numbers of African-descended people include Haiti – 8 million, Dominican Republic – 7.9 million, and Jamaica – 2.7 million,[93]


Several elderly men sitting around a table playing cards
Haiti has the largest Afro-Caribbean population (almost 11 million) and also has the highest percentage of its population descended from the African diaspora (95%).

The first Africans in the Americas arrived in the region during the initial period of European colonization. In 1492, Afro-Spanish sailor Pedro Alonso Niño served as a pilot on the voyages of Christopher Columbus; though he returned to the Americas in 1499, Niño did not settle in the region.[94] By the early 16th century, more Africans began to arrive in Spanish colonies in the Americas, sometimes as free people of color, but the majority were enslaved. Demand of African labor increased as the indigenous population of the Americas experienced a massive population decline due to the introduction of Eurasian infectious diseases (such as smallpox) to which they had no natural immunity. The Spanish Crown granted asientos (monopoly contracts) to merchants granting them the right to supply enslaved Africans in to Spanish colonies in the Americas, regulating the trade. As other European nations began establishing colonies in the Americas, these new colonies began importing enslaved Africans as well.[95]

During the 17th and 18th centuries, most European colonies in the Caribbean operated on plantation economies fueled by slave labor, and the resulting importation of enslaved Africans meant that Afro-Caribbeans soon far outnumbered their European enslavers in terms of population.[96] Roughly eleven to twelve million enslaved Africans were transported to the Americas as part of the transatlantic slave trade.[97]

Beginning in 1791, the Haitian Revolution, a slave rebellion by self-emancipated slaves in the French colony of Saint-Domingue eventually led to the creation of the Republic of Haiti. The new state, led by Jean Jacques Dessalines was the first nation in the Americas to be established from a successful slave revolt and represented a challenge to the existing slave systems in the region.[98] Continuous waves of slave rebellions, such as the Baptist War led by Samuel Sharpe in British Jamaica, created the conditions for the incremental abolition of slavery in the region, with Great Britain abolishing it in the 1830s. The Spanish colony of Cuba was the last Caribbean island to emancipate its slaves.[99]

During the 20th century, Afro-Caribbean people began to assert their cultural, economic and political rights on the world stage. The Jamaican Marcus Garvey formed the UNIA movement in the United States, continuing with Aimé Césaire's négritude movement, which was intended to create a pan-African movement across national lines. From the 1960s, the decolonization of the Americas led to various Caribbean countries gaining their independence from European colonial rule. They were pre-eminent in creating new cultural forms such as calypso, reggae music, and rastafarianism within the Caribbean. Beyond the region, a new Afro-Caribbean diaspora, including such figures as Stokely Carmichael and DJ Kool Herc in the United States, was influential in the creation of the black power and hip hop movements. Influential political theorists such as Walter Rodney, Frantz Fanon and Stuart Hall contributed to anti-colonial theory and movements in Africa, as well as cultural developments in Europe.

North America[edit]

United States[edit]

Several migration waves to the Americas, as well as relocations within the Americas, have brought people of African descent to North America. According to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the first African populations came to North America in the 16th century via Mexico and the Caribbean to the Spanish colonies of Florida, Texas and other parts of the South.[100] Out of the 12 million people from Africa who were shipped to the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade,[101] 645,000 were shipped to the British colonies on the North American mainland and the United States.[96] In 2000, African Americans comprised 12.1 percent of the total population in the United States, constituting the largest racial minority group. The African-American population is concentrated in the southern states and urban areas.[102]

In the establishment of the African diaspora, the transatlantic slave trade is often considered the defining element, but people of African descent have engaged in eleven other migration movements involving North America since the 16th century, many being voluntary migrations, although undertaken in exploitative and hostile environments.[100]

In the 1860s, people from sub-Saharan Africa, mainly from West Africa and the Cape Verde Islands, started to arrive in a voluntary immigration wave to seek employment as whalers in Massachusetts. This migration continued until restrictive laws were enacted in 1921 that in effect closed the door on non-Europeans. By that time, men of African ancestry were already a majority in New England’s whaling industry, with African Americans working as sailors, blacksmiths, shipbuilders, officers, and owners. The internationalism of whaling crews, including the character Daggoo, an African harpooneer, is recorded in the 1851 novel Moby-Dick. They eventually took their trade to California.[103]

Today 1.7 million people in the United States are descended from voluntary immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, most of whom arrived in the late twentieth century. African immigrants represent 6 percent of all immigrants to the United States and almost 5 percent of the African-American community nationwide. About 57 percent immigrated between 1990 and 2000.[104] Immigrants born in Africa constitute 1.6 percent of the black population. People of the African immigrant diaspora are the most educated population group in the United States—50 percent have bachelor's or advanced degrees, compared to 23 percent of native-born Americans.[105][106] The largest African immigrant communities in the United States are in New York, followed by California, Texas, and Maryland.[104]

Due to the legacy of slavery in the colonial history of the United States, the average African American has a significant European component to his DNA.[107] According to a study conducted in 2011, the African American DNA consists on average of 73.2% West African, 24% European and 0.8% Native American DNA.[107] The European ancestry of African Americans is largely patrilineal with an estimated 19% of African American ancestors being European males, and 5% being European females.[107] The interracial mixing occurred before the Civil War and largely in the American South, beginning during the colonial era.[107]

The states with the highest percentages of people of African descent are Mississippi (36%), and Louisiana (33%). While not a state, the population of the District of Columbia is more than 50% black.[108] Recent African immigrants represent a minority of black people nationwide. The U.S. Bureau of the Census categorizes the population by race based on self-identification.[109] The census surveys have no provision for a "multiracial" or "biracial" self-identity, but since 2000, respondents may check off more than one box and claim multiple ethnicity that way.


Much of the earliest black presence in Canada came from the newly independent United States after the American Revolution; the British resettled African Americans (known as Black Loyalists) primarily in Nova Scotia. These were primarily former slaves who had escaped to British lines for promised freedom during the Revolution.

Later during the antebellum years, other individual African Americans escaped to Canada, mostly to locations in Southwestern Ontario, via the Underground Railroad, a system supported by both blacks and whites to assist fugitive slaves. After achieving independence, northern states in the U.S. had begun to abolish slavery as early as 1793, but slavery was not abolished in the South until 1865, following the American Civil War.

Black immigration to Canada in the twentieth century consisted mostly of Caribbean descent.[110] As a result of the prominence of Caribbean immigration, the term "African Canadian", while sometimes used to refer to the minority of Canadian blacks who have direct African or African-American heritage, is not normally used to denote black Canadians. Blacks of Caribbean origin are usually denoted as "West Indian Canadian", "Caribbean Canadian" or more rarely "Afro-Caribbean Canadian", but there remains no widely used alternative to "Black Canadian" which is considered inclusive of the African, Afro-Caribbean, and African-American black communities in Canada.

Central America and South America[edit]

A man and woman in colorful dress dancing
The racial make-up of the Dominican Republic includes many Afro-Caribbeans, mestizos, Taíno-descended persons, and whites.

At an intermediate level, in South America and in the former plantations in and around the Indian Ocean, descendants of enslaved people are a bit harder to define because many people are mixed in demographic proportion to the original slave population. In places that imported relatively few slaves (like Chile), few if any are considered "black" today.[111] In places that imported many enslaved people (like Brazil or Dominican Republic), the number is larger, though most identify themselves as being of mixed, rather than strictly African, ancestry.[112] In places like Brazil and the Dominican Republic, blackness is performed in more taboo ways than it is in, say, the United States. The idea behind Trey Ellis Cultural Mulatto comes into play as there are blurred lines between what is considered as black.

In Colombia, the African slaves were first brought to work in the gold mines of the Department of Antioquia. After this was no longer a profitable business, these slaves slowly moved to the Pacific coast, where they have remained unmixed with the white or Indian population until today. The whole Department of Chocó remains a black area. Mixture with white population happened mainly in the Caribbean coast, which is a mestizo area until today. There was also a greater mixture in the south-western departments of Cauca and Valle del Cauca. In these mestizo areas the African culture has had a great influence.


Some European countries make it illegal to collect demographic census information based on ethnicity or ancestry (e.g. France), but some others do query along racial lines (e.g. the UK). Of 42 countries surveyed by a European Commission against Racism and Intolerance study in 2007, it was found that 29 collected official statistics on country of birth, 37 on citizenship, 24 on religion, 26 on language, 6 on country of birth of parents, and 22 on nationality or ethnicity.

United Kingdom[edit]

There are about 3,000,000 (5.0%) people identifying as Black British (not including British Mixed), among which are Afro-Caribbeans. They live mostly in urban areas in England.


Estimates of 3 to 5 million of African descent,[113] although one quarter of the Afro-French population live in overseas territories. This number is difficult to estimate because the French census does not use race as a category for ideological reasons.[114]


There are an estimated 500,000 black people in the Netherlands and the Dutch Antilles. They mainly live in the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao and Saint Martin, the latter of which is also partly French-controlled. Many Afro-Dutch people reside in the Netherlands.[115]


As of 2020, there were approximately 529,000 Afro-Germans (not including those of mixed ethnicity). This number is difficult to estimate because the German census does not use race as a category.


As of 2016, there were 1,045,120 Africans. They mainly live in the regions of Andalusia, Catalonia, Madrid and the Canaries.


Some black people of unknown origin once inhabited southern Abkhazia; today, they have been assimilated into the Abkhaz population.




The first Black people in Russia were the result of the slave trade of the Ottoman Empire[116] and their descendants still live on the coasts of the Black Sea. Czar Peter the Great was advised by his friend Lefort to bring in Africans to Russia for hard labor. Alexander Pushkin's great grandfather was the African princeling Abram Petrovich Gannibal, who became Peter's protégé, was educated as a military engineer in France, and eventually became general-en-chef, responsible for the building of sea forts and canals in Russia.[117][118]

During the 1930s fifteen Black American families moved to the Soviet Union as agricultural experts.[119] As African states became independent in the 1960s, the Soviet Union offered their citizens the chance to study in Russia; over 40 years, 400,000 African students came, and some settled there.[116][120]


Afro-Turks are people of Zanj (Bantu) descent living in Turkey. Like the Afro-Abkhazians, they trace their origins to the Ottoman slave trade. Beginning several centuries ago, a number of Africans came to the Ottoman Empire, usually via Zanzibar as Zanj and from places such as present-day Niger, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Kenya and Sudan;[121] they settled by the Dalaman, Menderes and Gediz valleys, Manavgat, and Çukurova. In the 19th century, contemporary records mention African quarters of İzmir, including Sabırtaşı, Dolapkuyu, Tamaşalık, İkiçeşmelik, and Ballıkuyu.[122] Africans in Turkey are around 1.5 million people.[18]

Indian and Pacific Oceans[edit]

South Asia[edit]

A group of Siddi from the state of Gujarat in India

There are a number of communities in South Asia that are descended from African slaves, traders or soldiers.[123] These communities are the Siddi, Sheedi, Makrani and Sri Lanka Kaffirs.[124] In some cases, they became very prominent, such as Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut, Hoshu Sheedi, Malik Ambar,[125] or the rulers of Janjira State. The Mauritian creole people are the descendants of African slaves similar to those in the Americas.

Siddi people[edit]

The Siddi (pronounced [sɪd̪d̪i]), also known as the Sheedi, Sidi, Siddhi, or Habshi, are an ethnic group inhabiting India and Pakistan. Members are mostly descended from the Bantu peoples of Southeast Africa, along with Habesha immigrants. Some were merchants, sailors, indentured servants, slaves and mercenaries.[126] The Siddi population is currently estimated at around 850,000 individuals, with Karnataka, Gujarat and Telangana states in India and Makran and Karachi in Pakistan[107] as the main population centres.[127] Siddis are primarily Muslims, although some are Hindus and others belong to the Catholic Church.[128]

Southeast Asia[edit]

Although often economically and socially marginalised as a community today, Siddis once ruled Bengal as the Habshi dynasty of the Bengal Sultanate, while the famous Siddi, Malik Ambar, effectively controlled the Ahmadnagar Sultanate. He played a major role, politically and militarily, in Indian history by slowing down the penetration of the Delhi based Mughalss into the Deccan Plateau of South central India.[129]

Some Pan-Africanists also consider other peoples as diasporic African peoples. These groups include, among others, Negritos, such as in the case of the peoples of the Malay Peninsula (Orang Asli);[130] New Guinea (Papuans);[131] Andamanese; certain peoples of the Indian subcontinent,[132][133] and the aboriginal peoples of Melanesia and Micronesia.[134][135] Most of these claims are rejected by mainstream ethnologists as pseudoscience and pseudo-anthropology, as part of ideologically motivated Afrocentrist irredentism, touted primarily among some extremist elements in the United States who do not reflect on the mainstream African-American community.[136] Mainstream anthropologists determine that the Andamanese and others are part of a network of autochthonous ethnic groups present in South Asia that trace their genetic ancestry to a migratory sequence that culminated in the Australian Aboriginals rather than from Africa directly.[137][138][139] Genetic testing has shown the Andamani to belong to the Y-Chromosome Haplogroup D-M174, which is in common with Australian Aboriginals and the Ainu people of Japan rather than the actual African diaspora.[140]

Aksumite settlers in Himyar[edit]

The Kingdom of Aksum at its height, with a presence on the Arabian peninsula outside of the African continent

The Kingdom of Aksum was an ancient empire in what is now northern Ethiopia. There were four invasions and subsequent settlements of Aksumites in Himyar, located across the Red Sea in modern-day Yemen. These invasions and settlements led to one of the first large-scale African diasporas in the ancient world.

In 517 AD, the Himyarite king Ma’adikarib was overthrown by Dhu Nuwas, a Jewish leader who began persecuting Christians[141] and confiscating trade goods between Aksum and the Byzantine Empire,[142] both of which were Christian nations.[143] A man identified as Bishop Thomas journeyed to Aksum to report on the persecution of Christians in Himyar to the Aksumite Kingdom.[144] As a result, the Aksumite king Ahayawa invaded Himyar.[145] Dhu Nuwas fled this first invasion,[146] and at least 580 Aksumite soldiers remained in Himyar.[147] Himyarites who opposed Aksumite settlement united under Dhu Nuwas,[148] and the formerly expelled king traveled back to kill the Aksumite soldiers and continue the oppression of Christians, forcing some settlers back into Aksum.[149]

Coin of Kaleb

In response to Dhu Nuwas’s Christian persecution, the new Aksumite king Kaleb first sent a group of Himyarite refugees in his Aksumite kingdom back into Himyar to stir up underground resistance against Dhu Nuwas. These discontented Himyarites then united under nobleman Sumyafa Ashwa.[150] Kaleb successfully invaded Himyar with an Aksumite army in 525 and installed Sumyafa Ashwa to rule.[151] [152] More Aksumite soldiers remained in Himyar to claim land.[153] The Byzantine ruler Justinian learned of this development and sent an ambassador, Julianus, to ally Aksum and Himyar with the Byzantine Empire against Persia. The overtures made by the Byzantine Empire to influence Himyar demonstrate that the Aksumite settlers in Himyar, due to their sustained residence and political organization, constituted a “stable community in exile,” which historian Carlton Wilson deems a necessary condition to classify a settlement as a diaspora.[154] Justinian had two wishes for this proposed alliance: first, for Aksum to purchase and distribute Indian silk to the Byzantine Empire to undermine Persia economically, and second, for Aksum-ruled Himyar to invade Persia, led by the general Caisus. Both of these plans failed, as Persia’s proximity to India made the interruption of their silk trade impossible, and neither Himyar nor Aksum saw value in attacking an adversary that was both stronger and far too distant. Caisus was also responsible for killing a relative of Sumyafa Ashwa’s, making Aksumites unwilling to go into battle under him.[155]

A third invasion was prompted by a rebellion of Aksumite soldiers between 532 and 535,[156] led by the former slave[153] and Aksumite commander[156] Abreha, against Sumyafa Ashwa. Kaleb sent 3,000 soldiers to quell this rebellion, led by one of his relatives, but these soldiers joined Abreha’s rebellion upon arrival and killed Kaleb’s relative. Kaleb sent reinforcements in another attempt to end the rebellion, but his soldiers were defeated and forced to turn around. Following Kaleb’s death, Abreha paid tribute to Aksum to reinforce Himyar’s independence.[153] The new Himyarite nation consisted of several thousand Aksumite emigrants, serving as one of the earliest examples of a large-scale movement of tropical Africans outside of the continent. Just a century later, Aksum’s relationship to this southwestern part of the Arabian peninsula would be pivotal to the introduction of Islam at Mecca and Yathrib (Medina), as evidenced by the naming of Bilal,[157] an Ethiopian,[158] as the first muezzin, and the flight of some of Muhammad's earliest followers from Mecca to Askum.[159]

Music and the African diaspora[edit]

Smith seated playing acoustic guitar
African-descended peoples have rich musical and dance traditions in the diaspora. Jamaica's Earl "Chinna" Smith is a reggae performer; the genre includes frequent references to Rastafari, pan-Africanism, and artwork with pan-African colors.

Although fragmented and separated by land and water, the African Diaspora maintains connection through the use of music. This link between the various sects of the African Diaspora is termed by Paul Gilroy as The Black Atlantic.[160] The Black Atlantic is possible because black people have a shared history rooted in oppression that is displayed in Black genres such as rap and reggae.[161] The linkages within the black diaspora formulated through music allows consumers of music and artists to pull from different cultures to combine and create a conglomerate of experiences that reaches across the world.[162]

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