AfricanCowboy Header

west African Rider on donke

Sankofa Gold title
Isom Dart, on horseback
The picture on the left is a Ghanaian Rider in Bolgatanga Ghana Africa.
The picture on the right is Isom Dart an AfricanCowboy in the USA, Old West.

Some Africans have a saying, "Sankofa!". Sankofa, means, "In order to go forward, one must reclaim the past", or "return and fetch it". Many African-Americans who are reared and educated in the Euro-American tradition are often mis-educated about Africa and African-American great and glorious history; a history that has been stolen, copied or misrepresented. So is it any wonder that we African-Americans often view ourselves as Euro-American rather than Africans in America... So, I say to you, "Sankofa !"


In attempting to tell a small part of the story of the AfricanCowboys, it will be necessary to reclaim the past; that part of African history that explains who these African people were who were kidnapped and forced into slavery.

Many Africans, before being kidnapped and forced into slaves in America, were Merchants, Scholars, Artists, Tradesmen, Doctors, Lawyers, Cattlemen, Farmers, Priest and many other professions.


American history taught in the traditional American school system has mis-education of people of African descent, and others, to believe that African people have no history. Professor Ernie Smith, who holds a PhD in Linguistics, puts it another way; he says that White folks say, "I know something, that makes me intelligent. If you know what I know, then you are intelligent, but if you know something that I don't know, its not important !

Euro-American, scholars and teachers, by ignoring or just plain being ignorant of African history, could justify to themselves, the inhuman treatment of a people by forcing and holding African people in bondage (slavery) for the specific purpose of stealing their labor, their knowledge, and their very lives.


Cattle-raising and the domestication of animals has a long history in Africa. In Central Africa, archaeologists found the jawbone of a domesticated animal that dates back 20 thousand years. Not only was it from a domesticated animal, it was also used as a mathematics calculating device, evidence of an advanced civilization and culture.

Modern day scholars attest to the fact that civilization began with hunters and gathers, as well as farming and the domestication of animals. As we well know, the beginning of civilization took place on the continent of Africa with cattle-raising and farming. Is it any wonder that descendants of this early African civilization; a people kidnapped from their cities and farms, would have the knowledge of farming, blacksmithing, cattle-raising, and all the knowledge of a free civilized people!

The History of AfricanCowboy in the southern states of the USA.

Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina. The history of the AfricaCowboys began long before the establishment of large ranches with cattle grazing in the late ( 1800th ) eighteenth century U.S.A.,

Cattle herding began in places like Gambia, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Angola on the western side of Africa, and Kenya Sudan, Zimbabwe to mention a few countries on the east side of Africa. Africans were herding cattle thousands of years ago.

Some African countries were known to be lands of large cattle herds with the people possessing innate skills in controlling and managing the movement of the cattle. They were not called cowboys but "herders".

Throughout the slave trade in the USA, ranchers and farmers (slave-owners) with large herds of cattle in the south of the U.S.A. wanted this particular groups of People, ( herdsmen ) that had been kidnapped from those African countries where cattle herding was common .

Once kidnapped and sold into slavery prior to the Civil War, these Africans began to hunt and work cattle in the tall grass, pine barrens, and marshes of South Carolina and other sections of the Southern States, on what was then called "cattle plantations."

A few were mounted on horseback but most used dogs, bullwhips, and salt to manage cattle. The pine barrens extended westward through Georgia and Northern Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, Southern Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and into the grazing lands of Southeast Texas. As more and more cattle farmers moved westward with their herds and (kidnapped African slaves), more and more slaves escaped slavery into the northern states of Mexico, between the Sierra Madres where the principal occupation was cattle and sheep raising.

The African ex-slaves swapped skills with the Vaqueros. They taught the Vaqueros the skills of controlling cattle, and the Vaqueros taught the African ex-slaves the skills of horseback riding and roping, Some were already skilled in horseback riding. From this group came some of the best cowboys to work the ranches in Texas, and to ride the cattle trail Northward.

Another center of AfricanCowboys prior to the movements westward to Texas was in the Savannahs of Southern Florida. This group was made up mostly of African escapees from the plantations in Georgia and South Carolina into the Seminole Indian Nation.

They became herdsmen on foot and horseback. Many in this group went to Oklahoma with the Seminoles, and subsequently with their leader, John Horse and the Seminole Chief Wild Cat, to Mexico where their skills were used in herding cattle as well as fighting with the Mexican army.


For more information about these Africans that became Cowboys and frontier Women and Men and their ancestors from the African continent. Click on the link below. For more Sankofa information Click here Introduction to African Civilizations

If you have Information about a family member who was a Cowboy, or Frontier women and you would like to share that information, please e-mail me.

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Emerson R. Terry
Skype /emersonrterry / Copyright © 1997
Revised: March 30,1998 Revised: 2009
Revised / Revised 2011