Black & Bilingual #AroundTheWorld - Havana, Cuba

Black & Bilingual #AroundTheWorld - Havana, Cuba

Havana is the capital of Cuba, a major port city, and the largest city of the island nation. It is home to 2.1 million people, and is the fourth largest city in the Caribbean. Havana has the largest population of Afro-Cubans than any other city in Cuba. 



Like many other Caribbean nations, Cuba participated in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Over a million slaves were brought to Cuba from the 16th Century until 2867 to work on sugarcane plantations. After the Haitian Revolution in 1804, Cuba became the largest producer of sugar in the world. Slaves working on sugarcane plantations faced back-breaking conditions. They worked an average of 20 hours a day, and were crammed into inhumane barracoons at night. Most nights, slaves only got 3-4 hours of sleep before having to return to the sugarcane fields. 



West African culture is very prevalent in the Afro-Cuban community. Many Afro-Cubans practice African religions such as Santeria, Palo Monte, and Abakuá. Salsa music also derives from West African instrumentation and rhythms. Popular salsa artist, Celia Cruz, among others was a famous Afro-Cuban singer. Cruz was known for integrating Afro-Cuban culture in her music from talking about the struggle of Black people to shouting the famous "Azucar!" or sugar over her records. 


Afrocubanismo Movement

Between the 1920s and the 1930s, Afro-Cubans experienced a movement similar to the Harlem Renaissance in the United States. The movement sparked an interest in African culture for Black people in Cuba. During this time, there was an awakening for Black literature, art, and pride. The Afrocubanismo Movement died down in the 1940s, but the impact and cultural contributions are still seen in Cuban culture today. 


Afro-Cuban Cuisine 

Much like other Black communities worldwide, Afro-Cuban cuisine contains African influences. Popular staples include okra, platanos, and rice. For example, a popular Afro-Cuban dish is Cuban Quimbombo or Cuban okra. It is a dish comprised of okra, onions, tomatoes, and ham broth. 

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