LANGUAGE AND RELIGION
The Africans were forced to learn the language of their slave masters. In doing so they developed hybrid languages in which African linguistic elements were maintained. Some places in Trinidad and Tobago were given African names. For example, Majuba and Sobo. Words such as obeah and the names of the orishas are also African words.
Also maintained were some of the folk tales that were handed down from one generation to the next in true oral tradition. The most popular of these is the story of Anansi, which originated in West Africa.
Even though the Judeo-Christian religion was imposed on the African slaves, they continued to observe their African forms of worship, sometimes in secret. Some of these rituals and ceremonies survived over the years and have been integrated with Christian practices to form two new religions that are indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago: The Orisha and Spiritual/Shouter Baptist faiths. The African traditions of music, song and dance form important aspects of these two religions.
The African people believed that the world was inhabited by good and evil spirits, and that their ancestors watched over them. Like other great civilizations, the Africans worshiped several deities. The names of these deities varied across regions, cultures and tribes. In Trinidad and Tobago some of these deities remain a part of the religious practices.
The Orishas – The spiritual powers. They possess special characteristics and govern natural forces such as thunder, lightning, rain, water, earth, wind and fire.
Shango – The god of thunder, fire and lightning.
Eshu – The messenger of the gods. He is the special relations official between heaven and earth.
Ogun – the god of war and iron.
Oya (Iyesan) – Goddess of wind, rain and storms. She is the favourite wife of Shango.
Osanyin or Orsain – The father of medicine and herbs.
Ifa – The Orisha of divination.