Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hispanic Heritage Month - Puerto Rico

(Photo of a tribute to Jose Celso Barbosa taken by Seko VArner)

Black history in Puerto Rico initially began (according to Europeans who do not recognize the traces of African presence in the Americas prior to Columbus) with the African freeman who arrived with the Spanish Conquistadors.

In the 8th century, nearly all of Spain was conquered (711 — 718), by the (racially African & Arab) Muslim Moors who had crossed over from North Africa. The first blacks were brought to Spain during Arab domination by North African merchants. By the middle of the 13th century all of the Iberian peninsula had been reconquered. A section of the city of Seville, which once was a Moorish stronghold, was inhabited by thousands of blacks. Blacks became freeman after converting to Christianity and lived fully integrated in Spanish society. Black women were highly sought after by Spanish males. Spain's exposure to people of color over the centuries accounted for the positive racial attitudes that were to prevail in the New World. Therefore, it was no surprise that the first conquistadors who arrived to the island, intermarried with the native Taínos and later with the African immigrants.[7]

The Spaniards enslaved the Tainos who were the native inhabitants of the island and many of them died as a result of the treatment that they had received. This presented a problem for the Spanish Crown since they depended on slavery as a means of manpower to work the mines and build forts. Their solution was to import slaves from Africa and as a consequence the vast majority of the Africans who immigrated to Puerto Rico did so as a result of the slave trade. The Africans in Puerto Rico came from various points of Africa, and suffered many hardships and were subject to cruel treatment.

When the gold mines were declared depleted and no longer produced the precious metal, the Spanish Crown ignored Puerto Rico and the island became mainly a garrison for the ships. Africans from British and French possessions in the Caribbean were encouraged to immigrate to Puerto Rico and as freemen provided a population base to support the Puerto Rican garrison and its forts.

The Spanish decree of 1789 allowed the slaves to earn or buy their freedom. However, this did little to help them in their situation and eventually many slaves rebelled, most notably in the revolt against Spanish rule known as the "Grito de Lares. On March 22, 1873, slavery was abolished in Puerto Rico. (Photo - A Christo-Negro on a shop in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico)

The Africans that came to Puerto Rico overcame many obstacles and particularly after the Spanish-American War, their descendents helped shape the political institutions of the island. Their contributions to the music, art, language, and heritage became the foundation of Puerto Rican culture.
(Photo of a building in Loiza, Puerto Rico taken by Seko VArner)

Puerto Rican cuisine also has a strong African influence. The melange of flavors that make up the typical Puerto Rican cuisine counts with the African touch. Pasteles, small bundles of meat stuffed into a dough made of grated plantain (sometimes combined with pumpkin, potatoes, plantains, or yautía) and wrapped in plantain leaves, were devised by African women on the island and based upon food products that originated in Africa.

The salmorejo, a local land crab creation, resembles Southern cooking in the United States with its spicing. The mofongo, one of the island's best-known dishes, is a ball of fried mashed plantain stuffed with pork crackling, crab, lobster, shrimp, or a combination of all of them. Puerto Rico's cuisine embraces its African roots, weaving them into its Indian and Spanish influences.[42] (Mofongo & Fish from Seko's plate)

(Seko VArner at a cultural museum in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Some African slaves spoke "Bozal" Spanish, a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, and the language spoken in the Congo. The African influence in the Spanish spoken in the island can be traced to the many words from African languages that have become a permanent part of Puerto Rican Spanish (and, in some cases, English).[36]
The following is a list of Puerto Ricans of African descent born in the island who have reached notability in their respective fields, either in Puerto Rico, the United States, and/or internationally:
Juan Morel Campos - composer
Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos - lawyer, Nationalist leader
Dr. Jose Celso Barbosa - medical doctor, sociologist, and politician
Wilfred Benitez - boxer
Carmen Belen Richardson - actress
Jose Campeche - painter
Dr. Jose Ferrer Canales - educator, writer and activist
Bobby Capo - musician, composer
Roberto Clemente - baseball player
Orlando "Peruchin" Cepeda - baseball player
Rafael Cepeda - folk musician and composer
Jesús Colón - writer and politician
Rafael Cordero - educator
Jose "Cheo" Cruz - baseball player
Tite Curet Alonso - composer
Carlos Delgado - baseball player
Sylvia Del Villard - activist and actress
Cheo Feliciano - salsa singer
Ruth Fernandez - singer and actress
Pedro Flores - composer
Juano Hernandez - actor
Rafael Hernandez - musician and composer
Emilio "Millito" Navarro - baseball player
Victor Pellot - baseball player
Ernesto Ramos Antonini - Speaker of the House
Pedro Rosa Nales - News anchor/ Reporter
Mayra Santos-Febres - writer, poet, essayist, screenwriter, and college professor
Arturo Alfonso Schomburg - educator and historian
Félix Trinidad - boxer
Juan Evangelista Venegas - boxer
Otilio "Bizcocho" Warrington - comedian and actor
Bernie Williams - baseball player

1 comment:

cy said...

fresh piece. i learned so much from this eternally important posting. now it's time to digest.



p.s. enviando energias positivas de la isla sin mango ya! como el caracol, siempre quisqueya esta contigo