Carnival Traditions - Angola

Carnival Traditions: Cabo Verde | Goa | Trinidad & Tobago | Angola | Venice | Brazil

Carnival in Angola Millions of people were stolen into slavery from the West African coastline, including a large number from what is now Angola. They ended up in the U.S., Brazil, Jamaica and Cuba, among other places. It was the Portuguese who exploited Angola, making the Angolan city of Luanda one of its primary slave ports. A case could be made that, througout Africa, it is Luanda that hosts a celebration which most closely resembles festivities in Rio and New Orleans, with large “grupos,” carnival performance and social organizations which ornately costume, dance, play music and parade. These "grupos" correspond to the “schools” and “krewes” of Rio and New Orleans, respectively. Another important contribution to carnival by the people of Angola was “semba,” a word which comes from the Quimbundo language and can mean to pray or invoke the spirits of ancestors or local Gods. In a contemporary context, it refers to a traditional musical and dance form which is also a predecessor of samba in Brazil, and which has certainly influenced the musical traditions found in New Orleans and throughout the Caribbean.

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