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Tracing the Roots: African Heritage and History in the Caribbean

After their successful rebellion, the liberated slaves of Haiti were inspired to create the most impressive stone fortress in the Caribbean, the Citadelle Laferrière, which commands a mountaintop position on Haiti’s northern coast, 3,000 feet above sea level. (Rafaelle Castera, Haiti Office of Tourism)
After their successful rebellion, the liberated slaves of Haiti were inspired to create the most impressive stone fortress in the Caribbean, the Citadelle Laferrière, which commands a mountaintop position on Haiti’s northern coast, 3,000 feet above sea level. (Rafaelle Castera, Haiti Office of Tourism)

(USA Today) – Travelers visiting the Caribbean are going to be immersed in African culture, whether they realize it or not. They’ll dine on dishes that were first developed by African slaves, such as jerk cooking in Jamaica. In the music of the Caribbean, they’ll find traces of Africa in the rhythms and beats, call and response vocals, and instrumentations. And of course, they’ll find it in the Caribbean peoplethemselves, many of whose ancestors of generations ago were pulled from their homes in Africa and forced into slavery.

Those with an interest in African/Caribbean history have a number of options for exploration, including historic sites, dedicated museums, and in one case, a whole town created by freed slaves from the United States.

Citadelle Laferrière | Haiti

Haiti was the site of the first successful slave revolution in the Caribbean, when in the uprising of 1791-1802, slaves wrested the country away from the French. Haiti became a symbol of successful defiance for other slave communities in the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, which followed with its own, less successful slave rebellion in 1831. The liberated slaves of Haiti were inspired to create the most impressive stone fortress in the Caribbean, the Citadelle Laferrière, which commands a mountaintop position on Haiti’s northern coast, 3,000 feet above sea level.

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