paper proposes that the Kingdom of Kongo developed during the sixteenth
century a strongly held Christian identity which sustained itself through
both the abandonment by European priests and the civil wars. Whatever
the state of the kingdom's politics, Kongolese who found themselves
enslaved carried a sense of Kongo identity with them that included both
membership in the kingdom (even if it was at war with itself most of
the time) and a special pride in being Christian and used it to build
a neo-Kongo community throughout the Americas, whose actual shape and
durability in the inhospitable land of slavery depended on local specifics.
This neo-Kongo identity in America, a product of the slave trade, is
the project to which this paper proposes to investigate. Its specifically
syncretic form of Christianity may provide a key link between African
forms of religiosity and those of the Europeans. Thus Angolans specifically
played an extraordinary role well beyond their total numbers in shaping
this aspect of future African American life.