If I were not Cuban

Source:  La Santa Mambisa
February 5 2019

if i were not cuban.jpeg

If I were not Cuban, how many things I would have lost, how much Creole substance, how much laughter and handshakes. If the stork had thrown me in other latitudes, I would not have grown up with the doors of my house always open in the middle of a rural, quiet and picturesque neighborhood. I would not have graduated as a university student without paying a penny.

I would be missing the photos next to the bust of Marti in the primary school, the memory of parents tying scarves around their young children’s necks, the din of the neighborhood in the 1972 Olympics after Teofilo Stevenson’s fulminating knockout on the prominent and square jaw Yankee Duanne Bobbick, who was nicknamed “The White Hope” and, hope at last, it was eaten by the goat, even though it was not green.

If I were not Cuban, I would have ignored the collective joy that is woven around a large pot full of broth in the middle of the street. I would not know the clatter of dominoes under an almond tree, nor would I have memories of the Cansao Ox of the Van Van, the Nueva Trova, Palmas and cañas or even the meteorological part of Dr. José Rubiera, known in my town as the Hurricane Hunter

If I were not Cuban I would not have applauded Fidel whenever the carapacho sounded to the characters from the North, I would never have premiered a guayabera and probably did not know anything about the ball, staying out of the crowd when Antonio Muñoz the ball burst and Bobby Salamanca shouted at the top of his lungs: “Goodbye, Lolita of my life.” I would not know the congrí, nor the pig roasted in a plectrum.

If I were not Cuban, I could get up early and not drink coffee, I would always speak softly, I would not joke in the most unexpected places, I would not engage in improvised conversations with any stranger at the bus stop, I would not ask the neighbors for salt, I would not donate blood voluntarily, I would know a little less solidarity, I would not go to hospitals for free, I would not have children protected by free vaccines, I would not pay attention to the Virgin of Charity, to the stamps of San Lazaro or to the offerings left in the trunks of the ceibas.

If I were not Cuban, I would ignore the joy of making a Constitution and have the right to vote for it; and above all, that a good people can more than destroy a tornado.

If I were not Cuban, I would never have learned that you can live with less, but with more pride; that you can block anything but the smile and the desire to live without price.

Benin to the British: Return the artefacts stolen from us in 1897!

Source:  The Nation

December 22 2018

edofest benin.jpeg

The Edo State government has intensified call for the return of artefacts stolen from Benin Kingdom by the British colonialists in 1897, with an exhibition of photographs of the prized artworks and their locations in Europe and America. 

benin ivory mask

Unveiling the photographs inside a gallery at the palace of the Benin Monarch, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, in Benin City, at the ongoing Edo Festival of Arts and Culture (EDOFEST), Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Osazee Osemwegie-Ero, said that the state government would continue to advocate for the return of the stolen artefacts.

He explained that the state government chose the Edo Festival for Arts and Culture (EDOFEST) event to scale up the campaign, in order to reach more people with the message, adding that “the artefacts represent part of the Benin history.”

He noted that the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration has made provision for N500 million in the 2019 budget of the state, for the establishment of a Benin Royal Museum in collaboration with the Oba Palace, where the artefacts would be kept on return.

Prof. Greg Akenzua commended the organisers of the photo exhibition, and disclosed that the palace of the Benin Monarch, was working with 13 museums to establish the Benin Royal Museum in the state.He maintained that the call for the return of looted artefacts across the world was gaining traction, citing the French President, Emmanuel Macron, who has promised that his country would return some of the stolen artefacts to their original owners.

“We are working with 13 museums who have agreed to work with us in the establishment of the Royal Museum. We have set a timeline of three years to put the structures on ground,” Prof. Akensua added.

Dr. Lutz Mukke, a German journalist and academic, who took the photographs of the looted Benin artefacts, said the photographs were the result of his journalistic investigation into the looted Benin artefacts at different museums around the world.

He disclosed that up to 90 per cent of the important cultural artefacts were taken away from Africa, and suggested that a “new deal” between Africa and the Western world was needed to fast-track the return of the stolen artefacts.

He maintained the stolen Benin artefacts numbering 4,000 to 6,000 could be found in about 60 Western museums with the biggest collections in the British Museum in London, Ethnographical Collections in Berlin, Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York and Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

He also said that the German government has called on all public museums housing about 1000 looted Benin artefacts to return them.

“The photographs shown in the exhibition are from the museums in Boston and New York in the United States of America; Vienna in Austria; Stockholm in Sweden, Con Berlin, Dresden, Munich and Leipzig in Germany and London, United Kingdom.

“The artefacts are of course priceless as cultural heritage, but that does not mean we should forget their pure money value. The stolen Benin artefacts are estimated to be $1 billion” Mukke said

Africa: Return what was stolen from us! New Museum in Senegal drawing crowds

Source:  TeleSUR
December 26 2018

Nearly 50 years in the making, the four-story museum is displaying centuries of African culture and art stolen during the colonial era.

president macky sall cuts ribbon at inauguration of museum

The Museum of Black Civilization is drawing crowds to Dakar, Senegal as hundreds of artifacts return home for a long awaited exhibition.

Nearly 50 years in the making, the four-story museum is displaying centuries of African culture and art stolen during the colonial era.

museum of black civilization 4.jpg

“It’s so overwhelming, I don’t really understand it. Some of it’s familiar, some of it’s not, but it definitely grabs you by the gut,” museum visitor, Soucoumb Diallo, told Al Jazeera.

Keeping our culture

A 148,000 square-foot space of African pride filled with intricately carved masks, pottery, glasswork, carvings surrounded by colorful paintings from regional and Caribbean artists recall the continent’s place as the “cradle of humanity.”

kachireme.jpg“Kachireme” by Cuban artist Leandro Soto finds parallels between Nigerian
ancestral spirits and Native American beliefs

“Keeping our cultures is what has saved African people from attempts made at making of them soulless people without a history. And if culture does link people together, it also stimulates progress,” said President Macky Sall who attended the Museum’s opening ceremony

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Although Senegal’s first post-independence president, Leopold Sedar Senghor, (above) first conceived of a museum honoring black civilization almost half a century ago, its long-delayed completion thanks to an investment of US$34m (£27m) from China comes at a critical moment for African art.

Europe must return artifacts stolen in the colonial era

African governments are stepping up pressure on Western museums to return stolen artefacts following a French government report that urged mass restitutions of objects in France’s national museums that were seized during the colonial era.

Hundreds of thousands of artefacts – believed to represent some 90 percent of Africa’s cultural heritage – now populate exhibitions in European museums and private collections.

Besides Senegal, Nigeria and Benin are also opening new museums meant to serve in part as rejoinders to arguments by European museum directors that Africa lacks the facilities to care for the works.

“The Museum of Black Civilizations is part of a generation of museums that Africa is in the process of building … so that the continent and its diaspora … don’t cease defining their history,” said Ernesto Ramirez, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, at the ceremony in Dakar.

museum of black civilization 5

Teamwork Gave us this Award

Source:  Sierra Maestra
December 16 2018

fatima patterson 1“This is a success of the team: actors, lighting technicians, costumes, set designers … in short, we all contribute to the harvest,” said actress Fátima Patterson, winner of the National Theater Award, in Santiago de Cuba in ‘2017 and director of the Macubá group, a group that has just won with the work “Caballas”, the Grand Prize of the stage design contest Rubén Vigó.

With just enough time to celebrate the Day of the Culture Worker in her hometown, Patterson arrived here from the Capital, after receiving on behalf of her group, the “Rubén Vigón” during a ceremony that took place in the Havana room Rubén Martínez Villena, of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Uneac).

Biannual National Design Contest

Biannually, the Uneac calls this National Design Contest, to reward the best of the country in the categories of theater: lighting, costumes, set design … and also distinguish, in an integral way, the work whose design shows exceptional values ​​in the order of plastic or dramaturgy.

“Caballas” won the award for the integral design of the staging, after the jury, as usual, toured the country, attended festivals and theatrical presentations, and at the end of the period, awarded prizes by specialty as well as a Grand Prize.

fatima patterson 2

The work that made the distinction possible for “Teatral Macubá” is a montage inspired by the series Las Caballas, by the famous sculptor and painter Alberto Lescay Merencio, and also helped the group to celebrate last year, the first quarter of the century.

In her headquarters of the Sala Teatro Macubá, in Santo Tomás street next to the Tivolí, in this city (Santiago de Cuba), and on the occasion of the premiere in 2017 of the staging now awarded with the “Vigón”, Fátima Patterson had expressed, that they recreate the magical subjects which were complicated and required a lot of effort because she had to delve into the poetic message of the figures, and reach conclusions after interpreting Lescay Merencio’s intention.

After releasing “Caballas”, Rubén Vigón award, and celebrating the first quarter of the century of “Macubá”, Patterson announced that they are already preparing a new installment: “La Casa”, a work that will be previewed this week and one that also addresses the work of women in contemporary times.

Colombian ‘Birds of Passage’ Wins Best Film at Cuban Festival

Source:  TeleSUR
December 15 2018

birds of passage colombian filmA scene of the Colombian film “Birds of Passage.”
| Photo: Twitter / @FilmotecaUNAM

The Colombian film “Pajaros de Verano” (or Birds of Passage), directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, was crowned with the Coral prize for the best fiction film at the 40th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema held in Havana, Cuba.

RELATED:  Havana Film Festival in Cuba Opens With Film About Jose Mujica

“Pajaros de Verano” is a story set in the seventies, when the cultivation and sale of marijuana brought enormous wealth, and also decadence, to some families of the Wayuu indigenous community in the Colombian department of La Guajira.

The film, which was presented at the Directors’ Fortnight at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and has been shortlisted to represent Colombia at the Oscars, also received the Coral prize for best original music at the Havana Festival.

According to Jenn Sepulveda, a Colombian film critic, the film’s success stems from its ability to become something more than an ethnographic description.

Its plot reconstructs the socio-cultural scenario faced by a couple of foreigners who came to La Guajira looking for cannabis. Their search, which might seem simple and trivial, ends up leading to drug trafficking, a business that merges power, violence, and death.

The story unfolds between 1975 and 1985, a time when Colombia went through episodes of violence derived from the competition between marijuana producers and cocaine traffickers.

“We looked for a feminine perspective for a genre that always tells its stories from the male voice. We looked for those silent stories they had not told us,” Gallego said, as reported by Canaltrece.

“Bird of Passage” the transformation of the ritual

At the center of that story is Ursula Pushaima, a character who embodies the female perspective from the Guajira, a matriarchal community in which strong, empowered women face everyday life within a conservative, macho society.

The film is infused with the magical realism of a culture where the value of words influences people’s relationships with the dead, dreams, and nature.

“The word is a means of negotiation. It is a way through which [the Wayuu] have been able to find peace, stability, and protection, despite not having clear rules as a community,” explained the female director of “Birds of Passage.”

This year’s edition of Havana Film Festival, which kicked off Thursday, will screen 333 Latin American films until Dec. 16

Senegal opens the world’s largest museum of black civilisations with China’s help

Source:  Face2faceafrica.com
December 03 2018

museum of black civilisation senegal.gifMuseum of Black Civilizations in Senegal — afrique.le360.ma

After 52 years of waiting, Senegal is set to open what has been described as the largest museum of black civilization ever on December 6 in the capital, Dakar.

Spread over an area of 14,000 square meters with a capacity of 18,000 pieces of art, the Museum of Black Civilizations, which will be used for the conservation of cultural values of the black people and for the presentation of Africa to the world, was built thanks to a donation from China amounting to $34.6 million, according to officials.

Senegal’s late president Leopold Sedar Senghor was the first to propose the idea of a museum about the civilisations of black Africa during a world festival of black artists in Dakar in 1966.

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In December 2011, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade laid the foundation stone in the capital Dakar but works were suspended during a political change until the subsequent leader, Macky Sall set the project rolling between December 2013 and December 2015.

“This building, just like all others within the Cultural Park will not be considered as a Senegalese monument, but an African monument,” Wade said when the first stone was laid.

Finally, the doors of the museum will be opened with an exhibition on the theme “African civilizations: continuous creation of humanity”.

“On two levels, visitors will travel from the Neolithic to the multiplicity of African cultures, through the Iron Age, to understand the contributions of Africa to the scientific and technical heritage. The director of the museum boasts a modern scenography, with the latest technologies, to dialogue paintings, sculptures, masks and some masterpieces, as a piece of one of the major figures of the plastic arts of Mali, Abdoulaye Konaté, and a monumental baobab of 112 meters high made by a Haitian representative of the diaspora,” a report by News Africa said.

museum of black civilisation senegal 2.jpgMuseum of Black Civilizations — Twitter

Essentially, the museum features vestiges of the first hominids who appeared in Africa several million years ago to the latest contemporary art in collections of paintings and sculpture.

“This museum will not look like any other, because it will not be a museum of sub-Saharan Africa,” said Hamady Bocoum, the director of the museum, adding that the pan-African project “will be proof that the African man is well in history.”

Since the museum could contain works owned by France since colonization, Senegal’s culture minister has called for the restitution by France of all Senegalese artwork on the back of a French report urging the return of African art treasures.

According to Abdou Latif Coulibaly, the country was ready to work with France to find an amicable solution, adding that “If you have 10,000 pieces (of art identified from Senegal), we want to have the 10,000.”

Apart from suffering from the negative consequences of colonialism, Africans have had to negotiate for the return of valuable historical cultural artefacts that were smuggled out of their countries.

These priceless monuments, which symbolize African identity are currently scattered across the world, with an impressive number in British and French Museums.

Many African countries have called for the return of these treasures but are yet to receive any positive response from these western countries, which are making huge sums of money from these objects, with some even insisting that they were obtained legally.

French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced that his country will return 26 artefacts taken from Benin in 1892. The thrones and statues, currently on display at the Quai Branly museum in Paris, were taken during a colonial war against the then Kingdom of Dahomey.

Cuban President Diaz-Canel Met Robert De Niro in New York

Source: TeleSUR
September 30 2018

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U.S. actor Robert De Niro (L) and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel(R)
met in New York on Sept. 28, 2018. | Photo: Prensa Latina

 

The two-time Oscar winner said, “…good neighbors talk, good neighbors share, good neighbors, do not build walls, that culture serves to build bridges.”

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel met with renowned U.S. actor Robert De Niro Friday where the importance of cultural ties between two countries was discussed. The actor asked the governments of Cuba and the U.S. not to build cultural walls between people and rather build bridges to connect them.

RELATED:  President Diaz-Canel Meets With Cuban Residents in the US

The meeting took place in the Dakota building in front of which musician John Lennon was assassinated, in New York city where apart from De Niro, producer and executive director of the Tribeca Film Festival Jane Rosenthal, Katie Holmes, Alex, and Carol Rosenberg, founders and organizers of the Havana Film Festival in New York and other artists, philanthropists, and cultural promoters from the U.S. were present.

Criticizing the current Trump administration’s approach to Cuba, De Niro added, “While there are many problems between the two countries, I hope they eventually disappear, but the current (U.S.) President is not helping with the situation.”

Diaz-Canel expressed his gratitude for being invited by the U.S. artists and wished for more cultural ties in the future. He also recalled artistic links between the two countries giving examples like links in jazz, Ernest Hemingway’s closeness with Cuba, etc.

The president congratulated the successful Festival Artes de Cuba held at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C. in March which saw the participation of more than 400 Cuban artists.

He also highlighted Cuba’s artistic education system which is universal, free and of high quality, despite U.S. blockade on Cuba.

De Niro also expressed his fondness of Cuba, a country he visited twice. “I love going to Cuba, I did not know I was so known there, people took pictures of me, they followed me, I was surprised, it was something wonderful,” he said.

Both the Cuban president and the actor reiterated their support for building stronger cultural ties as according to De Niro, “politics comes and goes, but culture remains.”