African Roots: Usage of Song and Dance during The Middle Passage

Along with the harsh and unsanitary living and traveling conditions during the middle passage, salve ship captains and owners used the act of African singing and dancing against those who were stripped from Africa and brought to the Americas for forced labor.

While taking African people away from their homes to voyage across the sea to The Americas (The Middle Passage), European Captains and slave owners also took African Instruments like the drums and the banjos and brought them aboard the ships forcing African Slaves to sing and dance. Though some sources say that this was done to amuse the slaves and distract them from their pain and suffering, it is also known that Captains and slave owners did this to reduce the rate of mortality during the middle passage as well as for exercise.

Though, The idea of using Africa’s joyous cultural traditions against the captive slaves is tyrannical, the practice of this helped to convert/ pass on African Cultural traditions to the Americas allowing those of African descent and African-American descent to continue to enjoy and practice these cultural traditions and develop them into the music and art we love today.

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