Skip to main content

FunTimes Magazine

Celebrating the Dominican Republic’s African History on Independence Day

Feb 27, 2021 08:00AM ● By Oga Africa


Happy Independence Day, Dominican Republic! Today in 1844, after the Dominican War of Independence, this Caribbean country became independent from Haiti. Let’s celebrate the ethnic diversity of the country by examining the country’s fused culture, which is filled with Taino, African, and European influences. 

Historical evidence has suggested that Nubians and Egyptians first visited the island now known as Dominican Republic in 1200 BCE. The Spaniards arrived later on the island, naming it Santo Domingo. The first enslaved Africans were recorded to arrive in 1503, many of whom were taken to the island to work on sugar plantations, and originated from Senegal, Benin, Congo, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Mali. 

(Dominicans in Bayahibe, DR)

Tainos and Africans resisted Spanish colonialization and slavery on the island. A Taino, known as Enriquillo, led a successful resistance movement, collaborated with Africans, and relocated to the Bahoruco mountains. This group became known as the Bahoruco Maroons. Today, the Bahoruco region is a revered part of the country.

(Young women in the Bahoruco region)

On December 24th, 1521, the first major slave revolt of the Americas occurred in the Dominican Republic when around 20 enslaved Wolof Muslims from Senegambia revolted against their slavemaster, Don Diego Colon, the son of Christopher Columbus. By the end of the revolt, the Wolof warriors killed Spaniards, stole gold, and some reached their goal of joining the Bahoruco Maroons.

Merengue is the most popular music genre in the Dominican Republic and the official dance of the country. Merengue, originally a traditional folk form during the slave era, borrows inspiration from Afro-Cuban and Venezuelan music, and usually consists of the Accordion, Tambora, Güira, Conga, and Saxophone.

Mangu is a mashed plantain dish that was brought to the country during the slave era. Today, many Dominicans pair this traditional breakfast dish with onions, salami, and fried cheese.