Photo: Cubadebate

The Casa de Africa is hosting the 22nd Social and Cultural Afro-American Anthropology Workshop January 4-6, focused on analysis and dissemination of the history of Blacks held in slavery, and the contributions of their descendents to the development of Cuban identity, a continuing process.

On this occasion, two historical events mark the gathering: the 150th anniversary of the initiation of Cuba's wars of independence, October 10, 1868, when Carlos Manuel de Céspedes launched the uprising at La Demajagua and proclaimed the enslaved free, and the centenary of the birth, July 18, 1918, of Nelson Mandela, leader of the anti-apartheid struggle in South African.

As is customary, the event includes an academic program and artistic presentations. The first, taking place at San Gerónimo College, is addressing several themes: the slave trade and illegal commerce between Africa and Cuba; resistance to slavery and runaways; culture, identity, and otherness; visual anthropology, oral history, and linguistics.

A number of institutions connected to the City Historian's Office, directed by Eusebio Leal, and the Casa de Africa itself, as well as neighboring streets and plazas, are featuring expositions and performances, including storytelling under the auspices of the Contarte project, led by Elvia Pérez, and presentations by folkloric groups including Raíces Profundas and JJ, under the direction of Johanes García.

A Three Kings Day celebration will take to the streets on January 6, a tradition going back to the final decades of the 17th century, when colonial authorities and slaveholders allowed Africans to parade with their chants and dances in a pilgrimage to the Captain General's headquarters. According to the eminent

anthropologist Fernando Ortiz, it was "a way to maintain a popular festival and capture the sympathies of slaves, of whose loyalty they were never sure."

The Workshop's final evening will culminate with a concert by Pablo Menéndez and Mezcla, to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of Casa de Africa Museum.