A meeting-tribute held by the Nelson Mandela Chair of Studiesfrom the Center for Psychological and Sociological Research (CIPS), on the occasion of the African Culture Daywhich is celebrated every year on January 24.
“We wanted to pay tribute and there is nothing better than paying it with the voices and the bodies of Afro women, who day by day wage the battle against racism, against sexism, against poverty and for dignity in many parts of the world”, declared Rosa Campoalegre, in charge of the Mandela Chair.
“In Cuba, Afro-Cubans also wage battle and today we meet to, first of all, socialize about the United Nations Afro Permanent Forumwhat it is and why, what happened there, how important it is for Cuba”, highlighted the researcher and author.
In a second moment, the meeting was about the turbans, not only where they come from, their genealogy, what is their history, but also what they mean, because “they are also political, they are also struggles.” That way, she said, every woman who attends, regardless of her skin color, will know what she is, why she is, and how to put it on.”
The meeting was organized by the Mandela Chair together with institutions and projects, including the Federation of Cuban Women, Afroestética, Karibi, Ecorizos, Seres and the Faculty of Communication.
Regarding the United Nations Afro Permanent Forum, Campoalegre, who attended the meeting in Geneva, commented on how it was born within the UN, 20 years after the existing one for indigenous issues and that it became a permanent consultative mechanism for Afro-descendants, human rights and is in line with the program of activities of the International Decade for peoples of African descent.
His mandate, he indicated, contains five key issues: contribute to the full political, economic and social inclusion of people of African descent in the societies where they live; provide specialized advice and recommendations, study the possibility of preparing a UN declaration on the promotion, protection and full respect for the rights of Afro-descendant populations.
In turn, the forum is mandated to identify the best practices, challenges, opportunities and initiatives and to monitor and review progress towards the implementation of the decade programme.
Between the results of the forum for Cubahighlighted the researcher, there is participation from a double channel, as State and as civil society, high-level dialogues, integration as a full member of the regional Articulation for the decade and the visibility and support for the actions of the school Beyond the decade, by AfroClacso, based in Cuba.
Hildelisa Leal, from the Afroestética project, toured the history of turbans in Africa, India and the Middle East, its origins among the Yoruba peoples in sub-Saharan Africa, as a means of protection against the elements or supernatural spirits and bad energy, which would have the head as a gateway, as well as its passage to America , where its use among enslaved people, especially women, was made mandatory to discourage plantation owners and foremen from persecuting them, considering them interior beings.
For Leal, “being Afro-descendant is not looking back at slavery, but rather it is rescuing that strength and value left by our ancestors. We must build something that is solid, a present with values, that people who are not Afro can appropriate our culture, to transcend it as has been done with the use of the turban, which today is not only used by us”.
As part of the meeting, practical guidelines and recommendations were given about the use of turbans, how to make them, what types of fabrics to use and how to combine them.
This action is part of the work that the chair will develop throughout the year and that has a milestone on the 23rd and 24th of next month “in honor of the second moment of the Cuban independence deed, in honor of those black generals, who changed the war , made it more popular, deeper, made it more dignified and since then united emancipation, social liberation with national liberation”, said Campoalegre.
That day, he announced, the Quintín Banderas house will be inaugurated and “we will be there with the National Program to fight racism and when it ends, the annual Workshop of the Mandela Chair will begin, with participants from all regions of the country.
“The Mandela Chair is national and it is really the largest national specialized network on the subject and they come from Guantánamo to the west, together with the National Program to fight discrimination, in synergy and alliance celebrating the feat and also a new year for the chair ”.
In Campoalegre’s opinion, there is a growing Afro-Cuban activism, with new spaces, which has moved from socio-cultural projects to initiatives and economic entrepreneurship, with political advocacy and national coverage at the highest political level, with the national program. “These are other times for the fight against racism in Cuba and it has expanded, it has diversified a lot and there are also other issues on the agenda, so what do we need: the key to the Cuban nation, unity… it needs much more support , but the important thing is that it is advancing”, considered Campoalegre.
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