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The flying Africans: extent and strength of the myth in the Americas

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Author(s): Lorna McDaniel

Journal: Nieuwe West-Indische Gids
ISSN 0028-9930

Volume: 64;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 28;
Date: 1990;
Original page

Keywords: Caribbean | USA | folk culture | oral tradition | repatriations | myths

ABSTRACT
[First paragraph] The theme of human aerial flight permeates the mythology of Black America. Examples of the metaphor are found in major musical genres, myths and poetry in Black cultures that span the Caribbean and southern North America, embracing generations to testify to the depth of the cosmological and conscious projection of systems of flight escape and homeland return. While the theme of human flight does not occur in any significant proportion in West African mythology related themes of transformation and pursuit do appear. However, in African thought, witches and spirits possess the power of flight; a flight that can be blocked by the use of salt. The belief in spirit flight, ubiquitous in the Black diaspor of the New World, parallels that in African thought, but in the New World it is enlarged to include humans as possessors of the capability of flight.

Tango Jona
Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona

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