Emergence of the Afro- Zulians in the Trans- Atlantic World (1722-1811)

Author: Keller II, Raymond Andrew
This book addresses the history of a small community of the African Diaspora mostly overlooked: the Afro-Zulians as the descendants of the first blacks brought over to the Sur del Lago Maracaibo region in Venezuela by the Basque-French slave trader Jean de Chourio in 1722. Despite attempts by Creole elites to strip away their African identity, it shows that they remained true to their African roots precisely because of the geographical remoteness of their settlements. The author links them to the Imbangala peoples of pre-colonial Angola, but shows how they adapted to a greater multicultural Venezuelan historical and social context through acculturation.


“A unique feature of the book is a study of the formation of Afro-Zulian culture, with its roots in Africa but influenced by forces from other parts of the Atlantic world. This involves the study of group culture and language. A particular focus is the study of religion in the context of colonial Sur delLago and the religious syncretism that resulted from African, European, and indigenous American influences.”
Robert M. Maxon,
West Virginia University

“This manuscript makes a contribution that is of the utmost importance. It composes part of the narrative of the African diaspora and Latin American history. No one up to this point has done a concerted study on the Afro-Zulian identity and their contributions to Afro-Venezuelan culture.’”
Maximo G. Martinez,
West Virginia University

“This work has set the stage for what will be an explosion of scholarly escapades driven by intellectual passion and curiosity. As the author states, the descendants of the 600 Africans who first walked the shores of the Maracaibo province under the tutelage of Juan de Chourio have gotten closure as they feel their way metaphorically to their umbilical cords.”
Cyprien Lokko,
West Virginia University

Table of Contents

1. Foreword by Robert M. Maxon
2. Introduction
a. Geography
b. Halting the Progress of Deculturation
c. Juan de Chourio and the Deployment of Africans
d. Foundational Research
e. African Diaspora Theory
f. Introductory Conclusions
3. Jean de Chourio e Iturbide
a. Chourio and Venezuela
b. The World that formed Juan de Chourio
c. European Background
d. The French
e. The British
f. French Attitudes Towards Africans Impact Chourio
g. Chourio and Slavery
h. Chapter One Conclusions
4. African Roots and European Influence in the Sur Del Lago
a. Angola: The Geographic Setting
b. Geography and Political Formation in the Pre-Colonial Era
c. The Imbangala
d. Encounter with the Europeans
e. Activities of the French Guinea Company
f. Afro-Zulians
g. Military Aspect of Afro-Zulian History
h. Chapter Two Conclusions
5. Religious Factors
a. Clash of Belief Systems
b. African and New World Syncretism
c. Aje
d. San Benito
e. Propagation Efforts of the Capuchin Order
f. Diffusion
g. African-European-Indigenous Syncretism
h. Other Venezuelan Religious Syncretism
i. Chapter Three Conclusions
6. Resistance and Survival
a. The Afro-Zulians, 1723-1757
b. Cacao Plantations
c. Cattle
d. Fugitive Slaves
e. Black Revolution
f. Influence of Haiti: Historical Context
g. Jose Leonardo Chirino
h. Chapter Four Conclusions
7. The Afro-Zulians
a. Emergence of an Afro-Zulian Community
b. Trans-Atlantic Connections
c. Assimilation of Afro-Zulians in the Venezuelan Nation State
d. Afrocentric Culture
e. General Conclusions