LaVidaEnBlackHistory Month Day 9

LaVidaEnBlackHistory Month Day 9

It’s important to know who we are, from whom and from where we were formed… by telling the stories ourselves, we see an example of how to live, how to inspire and how to honor our ancestors, Aguanile, Mai, Mai…

MimiTVA Posting from the DMV, Tuesday February 9, 2016

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La Lupe

La Lupe was born in Santiago de Cuba in on December 23, 1939.  An electric, frenetic amazing entertainer and singer, she made a name for herself throughout the world coming from a poor town in Cuba to the stages of New York.  This excerpt from her appearance on the Dick Cavett show is unforgettable.

La Lupe was born in the barrio of San Pedrito in Santiago. Her father worked at the local Bacardi distillery and a he of course had a profound influence on Lupe’s early life. In 1954 she participated on a radio program which invited fans to sing imitations of their favorite stars. Lupe skipped school to go sing a bolero of Olga Guillot’s, called Miénteme (Lie to me), and won the competition. The family moved to Havana in 1955, where she was enrolled at the University of Havanna to become a teacher. She admired Celia Cruz and like her, she was planning to be a teacher before starting to sing.

Lupe married Eulogio “Yoyo” Reyes, in 1958 and formed a musical trio Los Tropiccuba with her husband  and another female singer.  Los Tropiccuba broke up in 1960, along with the marriage. She began to perform her own act at a small club in La Habana, La Red (The Net), which had a clientele of distinguished foreigners. She got devoted fans at La Red, the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Marlon Brando. She then released her first album, Con el Diablo en el cuerpo (With the Devil in my body) in 1960, for RCA Victor. Her first television appearance on Puerto Rican television caused an uproar because of her “wild” energy and seemingly sexualized performance, that shocked some viewers.

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Lupe was exiled to México where she asked Celia Cruz to help her get work.   Celia recommended her to Mongo Santamaría in New York. Once she arrived in New York City, Lupe had a standing gig at a cabaret called La Barraca.   She started recording again, making more than 10 records in five years. She also was married and divorced for a second time, to salsa musician Willie García, with whom she had a daughter.

Lupe’s had an amazing vocal range, mastering a full plate of latin music styles – son montuno, bolero, boogaloo, Dominican merengue, plus Puerto Rican bomba and plena. It was her recordings which brought Tite Curet Alonso into prominence as a composer of tough-minded boleros in the salsa style. For a good part of the 1960s she was the most acclaimed Latin singer in New York City due to her partnership with Tito Puente. She did a wide variety of cover versions in either Spanish or accented English, including “Yesterday”, “Dominique” by The Singing Nun, “Twist & Shout”, “Unchained Melody”, “Fever” and “America” from West Side Story. FRED WEINBERG, who was her favorite audio engineer, also produced several of her albums. Weinberg nick named Lupe “A Hurricane” in the studio because of her intensity and enthusiasm.

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Her performances became increasingly decadent. There were rumours of drug addiction and that her force of nature personality made her real life “a real earthquake” according to close friends. She ended some of her performances having  be treated with an oxygen mask. Although she may have been poorly managed by her label Fania Records in particular, she managed and produced herself in mid-career, after parting ways with Tito Puente.  Unfortunately her ephemeral career went downhill, the explosion of the salsa and the arrival of Celia Cruz to New York, were the determining factors of the rapid decline of her career.

A devout follower of Santería, she continued to practice her religion putting at risk the fortune and fame she had acquired through her short career. Her record label, Fania Records, ended her contract in the late 1970s, perhaps simply because of her falling record sales. She retired in 1980, and found herself destitute by the early 1980s. In 1984 she injured her spine while trying to hang a curtain in her humble home; she initially used a wheelchair, then later a cane. An electrical fire made her homeless. After being healed at an evangelical Christian Crusade, La Lupe abandoned her Santería roots and became a born-again Christian. In 1991, she gave a concert at La Sinagoga in New York, singing Christian songs.

She died of a heart attack at just 52 years of age.  She was survived by her second husband William García, son René Camaño (from her first marriage) and her daughter Rainbow García (from her second marriage). She is buried in Saint Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx.

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LaVidaEnBlack History Month Day 19

LaVidaEnBlack History Month Day 19

It’s important to know who we are, from whom and from where we were formed… by telling the stories ourselves, we see an example of how to live, how to inspire and how to honor our ancestors, Aguanile, Mai, Mai…

Graciás Professor Evo Darwin Peña for your insights, your abundant intellect and all this very interesting information!

MimiTVA Posting from the DMV, Friday, February 19, 2016

Ganga Zumba was the leader of an entire country  of escaped Africans in Alagoas, Brazil known as Quilombo de Palamares.  ( see post from day 18 for info on the Quilombo) The fight for freedom in Brazil and all throughout the Americas began as soon as Africans began arriving in Brazil these Freedom Fighters represented an African resistance movement.  The movement was diverse and strong  taking on many forms, free settlements known as Quilombos, attempts from slave groups to overthrow the government in their Brazilian town or state.

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Zumba escaped bondage on a sugar plantation and proceeded to live his destiny as heir to the kingdom of Palmares and received the title Ganga Zumba. Although some Portuguese documents give him the name Ganga Zumba, and this name is still widely used today.  The most important of the documents translates the name as “Great Lord.” However, a letter written to him by the governor of Pernambuco in 1678 and now found in the Archives of the University of Coimbra, calls him “Ganazumba,” which is a better translation of “Great Lord” (in Kimbundu) and through this evidence we find this was his name.

Ganga was the son of princess Aqualtune; daughter of a King of Kongo. She led a battalion at the Battle of Mbwila. The Portuguese won the battle eventually killing 5,000 men and captured the King, his two sons, his two nephews, four governors, various court officials, 95 title holders and 400 other nobles. The entire nobility were then stolen from their kingdom, put on ships and sold as slaves in the Americas. It is highly likely that Ganga was among the nobles.  Ganga Zumba, his brother Zona and his sister Sabina (mother of Zumbi dos Palmares his nephew and successor) were made slaves at the plantation of Santa Rita.   They lived as slaves in the Portuguese Captaincy of Pernambuco in what is now northeast Brazil; a Portuguese province at that time a controlled by the Dutch Brazil and finally from there they escaped to Palmares.

quilombo or mocambo was a refuge of runaway slaves who were forcibly brought to Brazil mainly from Angola that escaped their bondage and fled into the interior of Brazil to the mountainous region of Pernambuco. As their numbers increased, they formed maroon settlements, called mocambos.

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Gradually as many as ten separate mocambos had formed and ultimately coalesced into a confederation called the Quilombo of Palmares, or Angola Janga, under the king, Ganga Zumba or Ganazumba, who may have been elected by the leaders of the constituent mocambos. Ganga Zumba, ruled the biggest villages, Cerro dos Macacos, presided the mocambo’s chief council and was the King of Palmares. The nine other settlements were headed by brothers, sons, or nephews of Gunga Zumba. Zumbi was chief of one community and his brother, Andalaquituche, headed another.

By the 1670s, Ganga Zumba had a palace, three wives, guards, ministers, and devoted subjects at his royal compound called MacacoMacaco comes from the name of an animal (monkey) that was killed on the site. The compound consisted of 1,500 houses which housed his family, guards, and officials, all of which were considered royalty. He was given the respect of a Monarch and the honor of a Lord.(Kent)

In 1678 Zumba accepted a peace treaty offered by the Portuguese Governor of Pernambuco, which required that the Palmarinos relocate to Cucaú Valley. The treaty was challenged by Zumbi, one of Ganga Zumba’s nephews, who led a revolt against him. In the confusion that followed, Ganga Zumba was poisoned, mostly likely by one of his own relatives for entering into a treaty with the Portuguese. And many of his followers who had moved to the Cucaú Valley were re-enslaved by the Portuguese. Resistance to the Portuguese then continued under Zumbi.

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The Brazilian film Ganga Zumba was made in 1963 but was not released until 1972 because there was a military coup in Brazil in 1964, and films about revolutions, even those taking place in the 17th century, were considered politically dangerous. The film is based on João Felício dos Santo’s novel, and focuses on a black slave who ends up in Palmares. The film is about black liberation and keeps a black racial perspective. (Stam)

Ganga-Zumba, the Palmares chief during the latter part of this period, attempted to negotiate an agreement with the Portuguese where the quilombo would no longer accept fugitive slaves or fight the Portuguese in exchange for permanent recognition of their land and freedom for those born in Palmares.  However, Zumbi, the settlement’s military leader, chose resistance to the Portuguese. The Portuguese never accepted Ganga-Zumbi’s proposal and continued to attack the quilombo. Finally, in 1694, Palmares was conquered and destroyed by a military force under the command of Domingos Jorge Velho. Zumbi was killed one year later in 1695.

Palmares was a multifaceted quasi-state which lasted for most of the 17th Century, resisting attack by two European powers. Challenging both Dutch and Portuguese sovereignty in Brazil, it was a symbol of resistance to colonialism and of the possibility of multicultural coexistence.

– See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/gah/palmares-ca-1605-1694#sthash.WNeQThDC.dpuf and finally the most violent, armed insurrection.

LaVidaEnBlackHistory Month Day 5

LaVidaEnBlackHistory Month Day 5

It’s important to know who we are, from whom and from where we were formed… by telling the stories ourselves, we see an example of how to live, how to inspire and how to honor our ancestors, Aguanile, Mai, Mai…

MimiTVA posting from the DMV, Friday February 5, 2016

Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando has been an inspiration to me for quite some time.  Her films are treasures of knowledge presented in the way of a modern day Griot, proud and brilliant; they make me eager to connect to my ancestors and fill me with pride in the way my father’s booming voice did oh so long ago.

BalconGloria Rolando’s first film; “Un Eterno Presente: Oggún” is an audiovisual homage to the Yoruba diety Oggún.  Oggún is the blacksmith diety resenting the modern world of industrialization, and works with metals and technology through the songs of the immense Yoruba vocalist, Lazarro Ros.  In this film Rolando explains how the men and women of Lázaro’s generation, are the last bridge tying us to the Africa that gave birth to its roots in the Americas. “We must recognize that it contains legends and universal values that explain the world. My personal experience with Oggún demonstrates to me that this is possible.”

 

In”Eyes of the Rainbow,” was made in 1997, is a documentary about Assata Shakur, the Black Panther and Black Liberation Army leader who took refuge in Cuba after years of struggles in the US. The film integrates AfroCuban culture, including the Orisha Oya, to show Assata’s place in Cuba, where she has lived for the past three decades. In English.

Gloria’s latest film effort is about the Indepedientes de Color or The Independents of Color a Cuban Political party that was formed after the largely Mambi Army ousted the Spaniards from Cuba in the late 1800’s.   Recent research in Cuba has established that this army was overwhelmingly made up of Cubans of African descent (80% and perhaps as high as 90%): consequently  it was thus one of the largest slave revolts in the hemisphere.  When the Mambises had ejected the Spaniards from Cuba, the plantocracy  / plantation owners became allies of the Americans.  These events led to the little known Massacre of 1912.

Evaristo Estenoz founded the Independents of Color in 1908 in order to secure a rightful share for Afro-Cubans in all aspects of  Cuban society; specifically the government which had successfully marginalized them. He was murdered by Cuban troops in 1912 along with over 6,000 other AfroCubans, fellow party members, after an intense media campaign carried out by the plantocracy to demonize the party.  As famed sonero Arsenio Rodriguez says: “Hay que adorarlos como a Martí!”  Roots of my heart is the first treatment on film of a  history that has been largely ignored by both sides of the Florida Straights.

 

 

 

Alex Cuba’s Holistic Healer Music

MimiTVA reccommends…

Alexis Puentes better known as Alex Cuba constructs the type of music that is just like a potato chip or in my case a plantain chip, you can’t just listen once!  You become obsessed with the good way his songs make you feel, the taste of his lyrics on your lips they’re fun to sing along with and plus the poetry… I Love me some Alex Cuba!  

 In his latest release, Healer his just that, a Curandero.  It is music that sooths your soul and inspires your romantic notions… Healing whatever ails you.  Not to mention it satisfies the hunger for my Afro-Latin rhythms presented cloaked in the genius of Alex’s guitar and that honey chocolate voice… 

This is a one of my favorites from Healer, 1,2,3,4

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A master of the Spanglish hook, Alex’s brilliance makes you wear sunglasses as you listen!  Fortunately no sunblock required to listen.

 I saw Alex in New York and it was so good to hear him live again after a lack of his sunshine in DC.  It was the perfect Spring opener and I was inspired to photograph him…  He is touring the US as I type check his web site for more AlexCuba.com

Also check out his white couch sessions on youtube. 

I’ve known of the talented Alexis Puentes for more than a decade now when a record label president shared The music of Humo de Tabaco with me at BET Jazz.  

Even then I was inspired by Alex’s courage as a poet.  His words in English or Spanish are knowledge, love, guidance, a story, a wish and a dance all rolled intricately into his lyrics and guitar licks. Am I gushing? Yes, but I am still impressed.  

Please pick up some Alex Cuba Music.  Alex Cuba’s CD’s are available on Amazon, Google Play and ITunes… 

Sara Gòmez; The Documentary Gem of Cuba! 

Sara Gòmez; The Documentary Gem of Cuba! 

#LaVidaEnBlack #TheBlacksideofHispanicHeritage

  Sara Gómez (November 8, 1942 – June 2, 1974) was an Afro-Cuban filmmaker. She was born into a middle-class family in Havana and she was afforded an education in literature, piano and Afro-Cuban ethnography. 
She became a journalist before joining the newly-formed ICAIC in 1961, Castro a fan of film as art developed ICAIC as a new center for film in Cuba.   Gòmez quickly rose in the ranks as an assistant director to Jorge Fraga and Tomas Gutierrez Alea, as well as to the visiting French director Agnes Varda. 

One of only two black filmmakers at ICAIC at the time, and for several years its only woman director, Gomez made a series of documentary shorts. One of which is featured here…

“De Cierta Manera” was her last film and her first feature although Sara died after filming.  

De Cierta Manera (One Way or Another) a 1974 Cuban romantic drama was Directed by Sara Gómez. Considered Avant Garde; the film mixes documentary-style footage with a fictional story that looks at empoverished neighborhoods of Havana right after the Revolution of 1959. 

The film illuminates the history before the Revolution and the development that occured after Castro took over in 1959 Cuba. 

Its plot shows how tearing down slums and building modern settlement will not change the culture of its people. 

Gómez wrapped filming with Mario Balmaseda and Yolanda Cuellar just before her death; technical work was finished by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Julio García-Espinosa y Rigoberto López before its posthumous release.

As De Cierta Manera reveals, Sara Gómez was a revolutionary filmmaker at a crossroads; the Afro-Cuban community, its cultural traditions to include the African based religions, Abakuá and Santería, women’s issues, the treatment of marginalized sectors of society, and the role of family within the context of the revolution and workers’ rights. For its time, the film was extremely radical both in form and content.  Sara Gómez remains one of the most significant filmmakers from Latin America.  There is an award named for Sara Gòmez in the Women in Film and Video Chapter of Cuba.