One of the most unique component of the Registers of Liberated Africans from the Havana Slave Trade Commission is the nación column. This detail refers to a series of colonial terms which referred to past perceptions of West African "nations." In these sources, there were 7 broad nation categories used, including: Mandinga, Gangá, Mina, Arará, Lucumí, Carabali and Congo. The meanings of these terms are highly debatable, especially since people from West Africa did not necessarily use them to identify themselves.

Click here to view Jean Palairet's 1794 map of West Africa. This particular map was selected because it illustrates the imagined loacations for many African nación and their respective sub-groups found in Cuba.

To complicate matters, there were 241 different nación sub-groups, which are listed below and distributed accordingly: Mandinga (18 sub-groups), Gangá (12), Mina (2), Arará (3), Lucumí (29), Carabali (51) and Congo (129). These ethnonyms clearly specified more distinct African ethnolinguistic groups, places or regions in a variety of ways and spellings. However, these terms are also highly debatable in terms of their origins and meanings. In addition, nación sub-groups were not always used. It should also be noted that there were three additional "ethnonyms" which did not fall into one of the 7 broad categories. They were "de Bisao," "Arpongo" and "Sierra Leona," which almost certainly referred to Bissau, Rio Pongo and Sierra Leone.

The data within the total sample of the Registers of Liberated Africans can be organized according to the nación groupings. What remains clear was there tended to be geographic associations, which sometimes overlapped. The first table presents the nación data according to the 19 ports of embarkation in West Africa represented here. The remaining graphs and tables reflect the distribution of these data according to the nación and their respective sub-groups. They are ordered in an easterly to western pattern.


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