Glossary

Maafa is the Swahili term meaning “Great Disaster”

Maafa (or African Holocaust, Holocaust of Enslavement, or Black holocaust as alternatives) are terms used to describe the history and ongoing effects of atrocities inflicted on African people. The Maafa includes the Arab and Atlantic slave trades, and continued through imperialism, colonialism, and other forms of oppression to the present day.

Usage of the Swahili term Maafa (“Great Disaster”) in English was introduced by Marimba Ani’s book “Let the Circle Be Unbroken: The Implications of African Spirituality in the Diaspora”. It is derived from a Swahili term for “disaster, terrible occurrence or great tragedy”. The term was popularized in the 1990s.

Maafa can be considered an area of study within African history in which both the actual history and the legacy of that history are studied as a single discourse.  Maafa can also be taken as its own significant event in the course of global or world history. When studied as African history, the paradigm emphasizes the legacy of the African Holocaust on African peoples globally.

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