Other Afro Centric Practices Print E-mail
Voodoo is one word, from one place, among one group of people having the same meaning as most of the other spiritual practices of West Africa. Perhaps, as opposed to the other names for the same beliefs, it caught on because it alone set roots in America via Louisiana. Perhaps it was because he United States occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934 and absorbed it. Or, maybe because it became the word that was used in Hollywood where the movies have made worldwide common speak of other terms, names and genres from slapstick to extravaganza. 

The word Voodoo is most closely associated with Louisiana and Haiti because both of these places were former French colonies that imported captive Africans from one of the primary French spheres of control in Africa, Benin. 

In fact from Senegal in the north, and to the Congo in south, almost every area had its own spiritual systems, almost identical, at times to Voodoo, and differentiated many by language. The best example is the Yourba region immediately adjacent to Benin in present day Nigeria. Here the practice is often called Orisha and after it was exported to the Americas, specifically in Cuba, it became Santeria. 

Some first cousins to Voodoo in the Americas include:

Santeria: best known in Cuba it is of Nigerian origin from the Orisha devotion of the Yourba people. This is probably the closest resemblance to Voodoo partly because the Yourban area of Nigeria is adjacent to the Fon area of Benin and the tip of Cuba is but 24 miles from the tip of Haiti. The term Santeria was originally a Spanish pejorative referring to the tendency of peasantry to worship the host of Saints in deference to God or Christ. Later, given the observation that the Africans in Cuba tended to elevate the worship of their spirits over that of God, the term was applied to them as well. Santeria has basically the same spirits as Voodoo but with slightly altered names. It is also called Espiritismo, which simply defines it as Spiritualism.

Candomblé, Umbanda and Macumba: are all associated with Brazil. The first two, from Nigeria and the Congo respectively, are associated with evil, vengeance and death. That later, Macumba, resembles Santeria and means sanctuary in Portuguese.

Obeah and Pocomania: are familiar in Jamaica. Obeah derives from the coastal Ghana region and is actually an interaction between the priestless, malevolent night forces and the positive Myal priest and priestesses; banded together to oppose white supremacy on the island. It invokes mystic powder that makes bodies invulnerable and involves herbal knowledge that can be used to create a zombie like effect.
Pocomania is a guided trance into the spirit world to communicate with and be advised by the spirits.

Palo Mayombe: is a Cuban product of Congolese origins. It is associated with evil, vengeance and death and is recognized by the 28 palos, or sticks, which are the basis of its magic.

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