The Buzzard In African American Folklore

King Buzzard, an African king, "was condemned to travel alone through the world as a buzzard for betraying his own and other people into slavery. When Africans enslaved other Africans, they did not view themselves as betraying their own people. They would have regarded themselves as Aro or Asante or Wolof selling Igbo or Akan or Malinke. Folktales like the one about the King Buzzard, created in America to explain the origin of African slaves, gave to these different people a common origin on the distant continent." This account comes from Robert J. Allison, in "The Origins of African-American Culture," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 30/3 (1999): 475-481.

Compiled by

Judith Tick
Senior Research Analyst, Feminist Sexual Ethics Project

Melissa J. de Graaf
Research Analyst, Feminist Sexual Ethics Project