The development of African religions in the dispora.

The first reports of the sale of West African slaves to Europeans date from the middle of the 15th century. However, there was already slave trade far before this time in West Africa between the various kingdoms and with Arab tribes. At that time, it was common in the areas around the west coast of Africa that prisoners of war and convicted criminals were either enslaved or executed. Europeans also came into contact with the trade of African slaves through contact with Arab tribes in North Africa. In the 15th century the "discoveries" of areas on the other side of the Atlantic that were unknown to Europeans also increased. International currencies and trade with goods from the "new world" were established. In order to be able to guarantee the production of these goods and out of the associated greed for profit, there was a great demand for cheap labor, i.e. slaves. The coast of Guinea, where the kingdom of Dahomey in today's Benin was located, was one of the places where slave trading posts were set up. The peoples living there had a great interest in European products, which they could exchange for enslaved people.

From the 17th century onward, the need for workers in the colonies was so great that Louis XIV of France proclaimed in 1670 that nothing could contribute so much to the development of the colonies as black slaves. Between 1526 and 1867, it is estimated that as many as 12.5 million African slaves were brought across the Atlantic to the European colonies; more than 2 million of them did not survive the journey on the completely overcrowded slave ships. Locations of the slave trade in West and Central Africa were the Gold Coast in present-day Ghana, Lagos in today's Nigeria, Porto- Novo and Ouidah in today's Benin, the Congo under Belgian control and the archipelago of São Tomé and Príncipe, which was under the control of Portugal then.

The exhibition "Voodoo Rainbow" explains in more detail the spread of the religions of West and Central Africa through the transatlantic slave trade. Religions such as the West African Vodun, the Yoruba religion or the religions from the Congo mixed with the religions of other enslaved peoples from Africa, the beliefs of the indigenous populations in the colonies and the Christian belief of the European colonialists. However, this horrific and brutal history also gave rise to fascinating and complex religions that not only persist to this day, but continue to evolve and gain popularity. The SOUL OF AFRICA Museum shows the origins of various religions from the African continent and resulting diaspora religions in Cuba, Haiti and Brazil. As you will see the religions are very different just in their outward presentation, when you become aware of their history, they are again similar in many parts. Particularly interesting is the division of the gods into "good" and "evil", which occurs in all the religions shown in this exhibition.

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