By Sylvain Savoia
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Extra resources for Al'Togo
Though the number of Africans brought into Pennsylvania in the eighteenth century was small—they accounted for just 1 percent of the state's 333,000 people in 1790—their influence on their descendants for generations determined the nature of most of black religion in the state, and with it sacred song and dance style. 56 From what we know of black religion in Pennsylvania, small numbers of Africans were sufficient to constitute the "critical mass" for the retention of essentials of African religion in slav- 24 SLAVE CULTURE ery.
Such a response, from the oldest to the youngest, could not easily have been evoked by an appropriation from another culture; rather, the magical pull was an expression of traditional values of a people, those that moved the oldest to engage in sacred dance and the young to join them in the circle. All within hearing of the shout joined in the last chorus of the song: I'se been on de road into heaven, my Lord! I can't stay behind! O, room in dar, room in dar, Room in dar, in de heaven, my Lord!
You know . . doze Africans ain got no Christianity. "60 The placing of hands on the dead was an African custom practiced in West Africa and elsewhere in the Americas, including Dutch Guiana, just as drumming was practiced in Africa and, when permitted, in slave America. But the drummer's tempo apparently varied from place to place in Africa, ranging from the rapidity of some tribes in the Congo area to the slow beat of the Africans who influenced some of the drumming in Georgia graveyards: "We beat duh drum agen at duh fewnal.
Al'Togo by Sylvain Savoia