Creolization refers to the combination of African influences from a number of different cultures with other foreign—primarily European—and Indigenous cultures. The term is usually applied to the Americas, especially the areas in and around the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Creolization may apply to people themselves, any specific cultural feature or realm, or the entire culture or society.
Santería, primarily practiced in Cuba, is one manifestation in religion. Other religions with some common features include Vodoun (which may also be called Voudou or Voodoo), closely associated with Haiti. The African influences are primarily from the Western part of the continent, especially the Yoruba people of contemporary Nigeria. Numerous deities known as orisha or orixa are associated with particular natural features and supernatural powers.
Caribbean Creole language that incorporates French with African languages may simply be called Creole, as in Haiti, or referred to with the French term patois. Creole languages may also be referred to as pidgin. Such hybrid languages often use the grammatical base of the European colonizers’ language, with a lexicon of words from numerous contributing languages, both Indigenous and foreign. These languages allowed facilitated communication among people from diverse locations. Native American and African words for specific items, such as foodstuffs, frequently enter the colonial language through this process.
Numerous musical forms originated in the Caribbean at different periods. Rhythms, tonal scales, and instruments all contribute to creolized musical forms. Calypso, for example, originated in Trinidad and Tobago; among its African features was the use of a storyteller/singer called a griot. Musical performance is often associated with festivals that are widely celebrated in the Caribbean region, such as carnivals.