Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer


Louisiana Slave Trade

West-Central Africa and the East Coast

Few slaves were imported from Monomotapa, Mozambique, and Madagascar. Slaves from Mozambique were found in small numbers in Louisiana where they were called Makwa. The most active slave harbors south of the equator were in West Central Africa. The most important was Mayumba, followed by the ports of Malimba and Cabinda in the kingdom of Loango. To the south of Loango, Congo was a kingdom on the decline after having played a premier role in the slave trade during the 17th century. To the south of Congo, in the kingdom of Angola, the main harbor was Luanda. The coast of Angola remained after 1842 an active center of the trans-Atlantic slave trade handled by the Portuguese and then the Brazilians. “Congo” was the generic name under which the slaves from Central Africa were designated in Louisiana and certainly the most frequent reference for slaves recorded on official documents. “Congo” became synonymous of “Africa” like “Guinen” (Guinea) in Saint-Domingue (Haiti). “Congo Square” or “Place du Congo” (now Louis Armstrong Park), the most symbolic place for Afro-Creole culture in New Orleans, was named so by the folks who, every Sunday afternoon, used to dance there in circles representing different African nations. In general, the songs and dance performances of the enslaved Africans and their descendants gave birth to musical forms enjoyed worldwide today: blues, jazz, rock & roll, and zydeco. The word ‘okra’ is the name for the famous vegetable among the Akan and Igbo people of West Africa. “Ngombo” is also a word for the plant among the Bantu of central Africa. In Louisiana “ngombo” became «gumbo » to designate a famous dish served with rice. Jambalaya is a rice-based dish imported from the coast of Senegal. Out of rice or corn meal, they made grits and “cous-cous” which they passed on to the Acadians along with their spicy food ways.