In my post They connected…! I posted a list of Surinamese words that have an African origin. Of course Suriname isn’t the only country that has persevered and has managed to preserve Africa in all aspects of life. This post will focus on how Africa was preserved in the languages of the Diaspora.
Take for example Cuba. In the following video you can hear a comparison between Yoruba, a language largely spoken in Nigeria, and Lukumi, which per Wikipedia is… a lexicon of words and short phrases derived from the Yoruba language in Cuba; it is used as the liturgical language of Santeria, an African diasporic religion developed in Cuba. As you can hear, the resemblance is striking. The only difference is the pronunciation. It’s absolutely beautiful!
The next example of language preservation is from this trailer for the documentary They are We. The whole 2 minutes and 12 seconds of the trailer just warmed my spirit, from the title of the documentary to the scenes which switched back and forth between Cuba and a remote village in Sierra Leone in such a way that it was unable to distinguish between the Diasporians and the Continentals. They still even sang the same songs! The whole documentary is available to rent or buy through a link in the description box on Youtube.
And yes, the next example is from my country. Again. I know. But I just couldn’t stop myself. I think I’ve even posted this video already years before, but it’s this special to me, that I shall share it again! It’s a segment from a documentary called Katibo Yeye, which is Surinamese for Slavery Spirit. I remember seeing the full documentary years ago. It features Surinamese people visiting Ghana, in search of answers. And in turn, a Ghanaian man visiting a Maroon* village in Suriname, and finding out that, as he emotionally stated in documentary …’we can still communicate...’ The language the were still able to communicate in wasn’t recognized by Twi speakers are being Twi. Some Ghanaians in the comment section have recognized it as Nzema, and others as Cherepong.
Do you know of any more examples of strong language preservation? Let me know in the comment section!
*While in school in Suriname, I was taught that the word Maroon was a derogatory term because it stems from the word cimarron, which means ‘runaway cattle’. However, it’s still used sometimes. Because the English word doesn’t have another word to distinguish the enslaved Africans who managed to escape, I still use it on this blog whenever I post in English.