LaVidaEnBlack History Month Day 18

LaVidaEnBlack History Month Day 18

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 or Darwin Peña for your insights, your abundant intellect and all this very interesting information!

MimiTVA Posting from the DMV, Thursday, February 18, 2016

African people’s fight for freedom throughout the Americas began the minute we were illegally captured, stolen and enslaved in the motherland.  Africans who had escaped slavery in Brazil and created their own township or a Quilombo. Quilombo is a portugese word derived  from an Angolan language “Kilombo” and it means a warrior village or settlement. The Quilombo dos Palmares was actually  a country in South America and today it is located in the coastal region known as Alagoas, Brazil.

Quilombo dos Palmares was a self-sustaining settlement that was approximately the size of modern day Portugal.  At it’s most productive, Palmares had over 30,000 residents.  Their great king Ganga Zuma would free every African seeking refuge.

 

In the beginning the settlement of free Africans became a thorn in the side of the Portuguese.  The residents of Palmares sometimes invaded mills to liberate slaves, they would confiscate food, weapons and also abducted women, who were a rare commodity in the quilombo.  Diogo Botelho,the Governor General of Brazil  sent an expedition of 40, 60 soldiers or maybe more, according to some historians. After they destroyed their dwellings and had taken prisoners, the Portuguese thought they had won the battle. However   whenever the Portugese soldiers appeared, Palmares residents retreated into the woods, leaving destruction behind where plantations and cabins that were destroyed and burned. And shortly after new dwellings and plantations were erected.

This constant destruction and subsequent reconstruction was a very difficult way of life and severely stifled the growth of the Quilombo. And then a fortunate little war helped seal the fate of Quilombo dos Palmares. The Dutch landed at Pernambuco in 1630, and tried to rob the profits of sugar from the hands of the other opportunists, the Portuguese and the Spanish, who were at the time under the same king’s reign. This hostile invasion created an absolute uproar in the Northeast region of Brazil. With the Dutch initial victory in 1645, some of the second generation Brazilian Portuguese engaged them in guerrilla warfare. Subsequently these Plantation owners had to enlist their slaves to fight the Dutch, which in turn facilitated their escape. And amid the hostility and chaos, the Quilombo de Palmares grew, with thousands of new free African residents. When the Dutch were finally expelled in 1654, the township had become a powerful land formed by several populated settlements.

depiction-of-the-palmares-quilombo

Rumor has it that the population of Palmares was polygamous and possibly even polyandrous – meaning that a woman could have multiple husbands. To feed the growing population, their economy was a mixture of enterprises, including, hunting, gathering and agriculture.   The Quilombo farmers planted crops such as cassava, sweet potatoes and beans.  There was trade with neighbors. “The idea that Palmares was an isolated refuge in the woods may be true for the first few years of settlement. However, after mid-century, the relationship between blacks and their neighbors certainly evolved into an intense exchange with Indians and whites,” says Flávio Gomes, researcher at the Department of History of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).  A true community was created with belonging , residents and a thriving economy.  Supposedly whites did engage in the Quilombo dos Palmares and it is known that this happened later in quilombos of other regions. Despite their alleged hostility toward whites, there is evidence that livestock farmers brought their flocks to graze in the area of Palmares and maintained trade with the quilobolas to the point of being called, disdainfully “colonists of the blacks.”

mapa-1
Map of Quilombo dos Palmares

The residents of the Quilombo dos Palmeres apparently did have a good relationship with the  Indians. Archaeological excavations have found Indian pottery, probably contemporary to the quilombo. “It is tempting to make this association and say that Indians were within the quilombo, but we could be dealing with some type of trade,” says American archaeologist Scott Allen, of the Federal University of Alagoas. According to Pedro Paulo Funari, historian and Unicamp archaeologist who joined the first team to take soundings at the site 15 years ago, pottery indicates that there were Indians in Palmares:  “The ceramic production was linked to the attributions of women. The presence of this material in Palmares may mean that the ex-slaves had Indian wives.” Something perfectly consistent with the lack of black women there. Anyway, mestiçagem (racial mixture) was on the tip of the tongue of Palmares inhabitants. Their language seemed to have an African base mixed with words and structures taken from the Portuguese and Tupi – the settlers needed interpreters to speak with them.  Illustrative of its complexity, Quilombo dos Palmares in 1640 was described as comprising several separate settlements which pledged their loyalty to one leader (chief).  Two of the settlements were mostly of Amerindian origin (Subupira e Tabocas); one of Portuguese colonists who joined the quilombo (Amaro), and seven Bantos, that is, settlements of fugitive slaves (Andalaquituche, Macaco, Aqualtene, Ambrabanga, Tabocas, Zumbi, Arotiene). With its capital in Macaco, Palmares possessed a complex social structure, replicating, in many instances, African political systems. – See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/gah/palmares-ca-1605-1694#sthash.WNeQThDC.dpufpark-2

Advertisements

LaVidaEnBlack History Month Day 10

LaVidaEnBlack History Month Day 10

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… Gracias Profe Evo!

Posting from the DMV, February 10, 2016

María Isabel Urrutia Ocoró (born 25 March 1965) is a former weightlifter, athlete and politician from Colombia.  Raised in Valle del Cuaca, she was always a stellar athlete.  Starting out in shot put and the discus throw she represented Colombia in the 1988 Summer Olympics.

On the advice of her coaches, Maria Isabel switched to weightlifting  in 1989 became an amazing champion.  Urrutia won silver at the 1989 World Championships.   She went on to win gold at the 1990, silver 1991, gold 1994, silver 1995, bronze 1996, silver 1997, and bronze at the 1998 World Weightlifting Championships.

maria-isabel-urrutia--300x350

Urrutia won a gold medal in the women’s 75 kg class in the 2000 Summer Olympics  becoming the second Colombian woman to win a medal and the first ever to win gold.  Maria Isabel Urritia is still the only gold medal winner to represent Colombia.  During these games she carried the flag of Colombia in the inaugural parade. Post her Gold medal win, she was honored through out Latin America.

URRUTIA
Colombian flag-bearer Maria Isabel Urrutia leads her team onto the field during the opening ceremony for the Summer Olympics Friday, Sept. 15, 2000, at Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Australia. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)

image0011

Nowadays she is retired from sports but she also became a politician.   Urrutia held a seat in the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia from 2002 to 2010 (twice elected: 2002 and 2006).  A popular elected official she was noted for her excellent legislative results and transparency in governing.

f52ad6265cf32718f517c03b0e85fded

 

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.

 

 

 

LaVidaEnBlack History Month Day 3

LaVidaEnBlack History Month Day 3

It’s important to know who we are, from whom and from where we were formed… by telling the stories ourselves, we honor our ancestors, Aguanile, Mai, Mai…

Gracias Profe Evo!

Posting from the DMV, February 1, 2016

10facetas_benkos2
Aspectos del corregimiento de San Basilio de Palenque, zona rural del municipio de Mahates. Imágenes para especial de turismo cultural

Benkos Biohó (late 16th century — 1621) was a young African King when siezed from his homeland, the Bissagos Islands off the Guinea Bissau coast by a Portuguese slave trader.  When the Spanish began to bring slaves from Africa to Colombia, there were some who escaped and formed free communities of Cimarrones and their enclaves were known as Palenques.

Benkos Biohó is the most famous of all Cimarrones. He arrived in Cartagena de Indias in 1599, where he was sold as a slave. Biohó made his first escape when the boat that was transporting him down the Magdalena River sank. He was recaptured, but escaped again in 1599 into the marshy lands southeast of Cartagena. He organized an army that came to dominate all of the Montes de Maria region.

The brutal mistreatment of slaves served as an impetus for rebellions.  Biohó, raised as a King in Africa used his leadership skills in Colombia with other slaves and bandeded together to rebel and flee their captors.  Bioho took his wife, three other men and three other women, plus an additional 22 slaves rebeled and fled with them. The group of 30 headed out into the swamps and camped near the village of Tolú over 50 miles away.

Bioho proceeded to organize the Palenque into a well guarded fortress, fit for a King. For years the group launched attacks on Spanish interests and were almost unstoppable. King Benkos formed an intelligence network and used the information to organize more escapes and guided the runaway slaves into their liberated territory, known as settlement. He used the title “King of Arcabuco“.

The Governor of Cartagena furiously tried to stop the Cimaronnes, but failed.  So on the 18th of July 1605, the Governor of Cartagena, offered a peace treaty to Biohó.  In this agreement the Spaniards would recognize the autonomy of the Matuna Bioho Palenque and accept his entrance into the city armed and dressed in the Spanish fashion.  The Cimarrones in turn promised to stop receiving more runaway slaves, cease their aid in escape attempts and stop addressing Biohó as “King”.  A Peace Accord was finally established in 1612.

Benkos Bioho.jpeg

Statue of Benkos Biohos

 

In 1713 it became the first free village in the Americas by decree from the King of Spain, when he gave up sending his troops on futile missions to attack their fortified mountain hideaway. Biohó established the maroon community of San Basilio de Palenque some time in the 16th century. Unfortunately Biohó was betrayed and hanged by the governor of Cartagena in 1619.

The treaty was violated in 1619 when they captured Biohó as he was walking unguarded and unarmed into the city. He was hanged and quartered on 16 March 1621. Governor Garcia Giron ordered the execution and argued bitterly that “it was dangerous the respect Biohó generated in the population” claiming that “his lies and enchantment would drive the nations of Guinea away from the city.”  But the Palenque survived and by the end of the seventeenth century, the area of Montes de Maria had over 600 Cimarrones living freely.  While under the command of Domingo Padilla and his wife Jane, the team successfully challenged further attempts at relinquishing sovereignty from the colonial authorities.

Inicio-Palenque
Los Cimarrones

Of their numerous significant contributions, palenques played an important role in the conservation of African traditions and culture in Colombia. The San Basilio Palenque, on the Atlantic coast, has survived centuries maintaining African social and cultural traditions in the Americas. Palenques and other Escaped slave communities are an important source for research of various historic, anthropologic and linguistic studies documenting the African significance and dominance in Colombian culture.

San Basilio de Palenque was declared Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005.[1] At about 50 miles east of Cartagena, on hills of strategic value were used as lookout posts, still hear the names of the runaway Neighborhood: Sincerin, Mahates, Gambote.

LaVidaEnBlack History Month 

LaVidaEnBlack History Month 

It’s important to know who we are, from whom and 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…

Posting from the DMV, February 1, 2016

MimiTVA commits to post about different Afro-Latinos throughout Black History Month and beyond.  I’ll start out with my personal favorite … El Negro Primero, the Venezuelan soldier, Pedro Camejo!

In Venezuela, Simon Bolivar known as the liberator of South America realized the vital role Black men played in the colonies quest for freedom from the Spanish Crown. One of Bolivar’s fiercest soldiers was El Negro Primero, Pedro Camejo. Born a slave, Camejo’s nickname was a testament to his bravery for Pedro was always the first to enter the battlefield.

 Frightening the enemies with his vicious spear, Cameo rose to the rank of Lieutenant.

After fighting valiantly in the Battalla de Carabobo, Camejo was mortally wounded and before taking his last breath he uttered this unforgettable phrase to say goodbye to his trusted leader, General Josè Antonio Pàez, “Mi General vengo a decirle adiòs porque estoy muerto” (My General, I came to say goodbye because I am 
dead.)
Camejo has a municipality named for him as well as a statue in Caracas, the only such statue of a black man in all of Venezuela.  He fought for freedom and died a brave and unforgettable death.

BatallaCarabobo01

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. 

La Reina de Azùcar y los Afro-Latinos

La Reina de Azùcar y los Afro-Latinos

Ay Celia… I celebrate her this September – October in my La Vida En Hispanic Heritage Month posts and I would be remiss to not celebrate La Reina, So here ya go! 
As a constant source of inspiration you never fail to impress, Celia you still reign supreme in a world where you were meant to be just a this or a that.  But it was your destiny to touch hearts it was your purpose to make your people proud, that those who looked like feel as though they to could be respected and revered by their grace, talent, beauty.  

  
As the ONLY Afro-Latina with her very own expansive exhibit displayed in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington DC, you had weaved yourself into the very fabric of this country, unlike any other Afro-Latina in the world.  The exhibit was complete with costumes designed by you and your music it was such an amazing thing to see and enjoy. 
 A Grammy nominee, ten times over, Celia sang only in Spanish because as she used to claim her “English was not very good looking.”    

She received a Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement award, a National Medal of the Arts, and honorary doctorates from Yale and the University of Miami. A street in Miami was also renamed  in her honor. 

  

Her trademark orange, red, and white polka dot dress (an original Celia design) and her personally designed shoes have been placed in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute of Technology. According to the European Jazz Network, Celia “commands her realm with a down-to-earth dignity unmistakably vibrant in her wide smile and striking pose.”

   

Celia was a big star in Cuba before she came to the US.  She replaced the Puerto Rican singer Myrta Silva in the famed Cuban Orchestra, La Sonora Matancera in 1950 much to the chagrin of the white aristocracy in Cuba.  This singular move would propell the orchestra and Celia to international stardom. She became one of the first Afro-Latina women to lead an orchestra and Sonora Matancera took Cuban music around the world with Celia Cruz as “La Guarachera Cubana.”

  

I will never forget the way I felt driving down Constitution Ave, when I saw this mega building sized poster of Celia emblazoned with her battle cry to sing  Azùcar! in DC.   Our national museum of American History had this beautiful icon covering the front of their building it was a win.  And I remember thinking ..wow Celia, you were

A Cruz Original
 
It was amazing to see An entire exhibit devoted to our queen, our music, the ancestors were so very pleased.  Couldnt you feel it in her voice? I can, to this day, still hear her singing in my heart,  felt her spirit in my soul, “La Vida Es Un Carnival”
La Vida Es Un Carnival Live  

I was filled with an inexplicable level of pride at who Celia was and what Celia Cruz means to me and people who look like me.  She is irreplaceable our Queen, La Reina! It was confirming to see that Celia Cruz a naturalized citizen, of these United States was still honored and revered with her own exhibit. She was a treasure. 

 

   I have my favorite songs of Celia’s I love “Usted Abuso” with its lovely arrangements and of course “La Negra Tiene Timbao” my anthem because I am Ese Negrita que esta caminando… 

But the song that just breaks my heart in its mastery of lyrics is a cover En Español of I Will Survive.  Recorded just months before she succumbed to brain cancer. Her voice rich but strained emmitted the wonderful Adios of this legendary singer. 

“Yo Vivire, en el alma de mi gente, en el cuero del tambor, en las manos del congero, en los pies del bailador, yo vivire, ahi estar, mientras pase una comparsa, con mi rumba cantare, sere siempre lo que fui con mi azucar para ti, yo vivire, yo vivire…” 

(Translation) “I will survive, in the soul of my people, in the skin of our drum, in the hands of the drummer, in the feet of the dancer, I will survive, and there it is, while my song is playing, with my rumba I will sing, always being alive with my azucar for you I will survive… I will survive” 

Below every latin vocalist from Gloria Estefan to Jose Feliciano and Marc Anthony come on stage with Celia to sing one last song with her. A truly proper goodbye.   I am always rendered to tears each time I see it. 

An All Star Tribute To Living Legend Celia Cruz

I Still cant listen to any of her music without breaking out in dance either… So this post is in gratitude… Thank you God, Mil Gracias a Dios por la Vida En Black of La Reina, Celia Cruz!