Step: African American Fraternities

Topics: African American, Stepping, Gold mining Pages: 4 (1501 words) Published: April 1, 2014
Step is common in today’s society. It was dance that originated in Africa by gold miners who were not allowed to speak to one another and had to use their hands and feet as means of communication. Africans came to America and formed the first African American fraternity. These fraternities are the ones that created todays’ “stepping” and based it on the traditional gumboot dances. The dancers endured a lot of suffering through their journey and brought something great to America that is now a crazed sensation. The first form of step dance was born in South Africa by gold miners in the late 19th century. These gold miners were taken from their homes and forced to work. They were gathered from nearby countries: Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Malawi. Not one of them would see home again. They were imprisoned and would be chained to their work stations with shackles and would go for months at a time working in near total darkness down in the mines. Soon the mines started to flood. The water was trapped in the mine with nowhere to go; they never set up a drainage system. With the gold miners shackled to their work stations they were now forced to work in disease infested water. The water came all the way up to their knees and the area had become waterlogged from the constant wetness. They did not have proper clothing to protect their legs. Soon the water started breaking down their skin and causing foot problems. Ulcers and several diseases started to break out among the miners. The gold miners were becoming sick from exposure to the disease infested water. Mine owners were losing workers due to these harsh conditions. They did not want to spend any money on draining the water out of the mines. Doing so was too costly and they saw it as a waste of time, so mine owners had to come up with a plan. The cheapest way for them to solve the issue were Wellington boots, known as gumboots. The mine owners bought all of the gold miner’s rubber gumboots to wear while they...
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