'Lucumí', 'Terranova', And The Origins Of The Yoruba Nation

'Lucumí', 'Terranova', And The Origins Of The Yoruba Nation

Author: 
Lovejoy, Henry B.
Publisher: 
Cambridge University Press
Date published: 
2015
Record type: 
Responsibility: 
Ojo, Olatunji, jt. author
Journal Title: 
Journal of African History
Source: 
The Journal of African History, Vol. 56, No. 3, November 2015, pp. 353-372
Abstract: 

The etymology of 'Lucumí' and 'Terranova', ethnonyms used to describe Yoruba-speaking people during the Atlantic slave trade, helps to reconceptualize the origins of a Yoruba nation. While there is general agreement that 'Lucumí' refers to the Yoruba in diaspora, the origin of the term remains unclear. We argue 'Lucumí' was first used in the Benin kingdom as early as the fifteenth century, as revealed through the presence of Olukumi communities involved in chalk production. The Benin and Portuguese slave trade extended the use of 'Lucumí' to the Americas. As this trade deteriorated by 1550, 'Terranova' referred to slaves captured west of Benin's area of influence, hence 'new land'. By the eighteenth century, 'Nagô' had replaced 'Lucumí', while the 'Slave Coast' had substituted 'Terranova' as terms of reference. This etymology confirms the collective identification of 'Yoruba' and helps trace the evolution of a transnational identity.

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CITATION: Lovejoy, Henry B.. 'Lucumí', 'Terranova', And The Origins Of The Yoruba Nation . : Cambridge University Press , 2015. The Journal of African History, Vol. 56, No. 3, November 2015, pp. 353-372 - Available at: http://library.au.int/lucumí-terranova-and-origins-yoruba-nation-0