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May – Black Ethnicity month
Afro-Panamanian is the name given to the descendents of African slaves that came to the Isthmus during the time of the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the XV century and the population who are the offspring of the Antilleans that came at the beginning of the XX century to work in the construction of the Panama Canal. Around 56% of the Panamanian population has an African ancestor and for that reason, the month of May is dedicated to celebrate this essential part of the country’s identity.
The significance of this date goes back to May 30, 1820, when King Ferdinand VII abolished the commerce of slaves in French territory, influenced by the blacks who belonged to the French National Assembly during the time of the revolution.
The celebration begins on Thursday, May 10 with an exhibition entitled “The Rebels” at the Contemporary Art Museum (MAC), with works by Brooke Alfaro, Humberto Velez, Gustavo Araujo, Sandra Eleta, the Bontown group, Lord Cobra and Lord Panama among others. All of them show how the rebel slaves and their descendants shaped Panama.
Also at the MAC on the same day there will be a conference by the Colombian expert Marixa Lasso at 7:00 p.m. entitled “ From Chagres to El Chorrillo” where she explains how the escapee slaves founded towns from Colón province to Panama City.
La Pirogue International Trio will give a concert at the Athenaeum of the City of Knowledge on Friday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. accompanied by the African flamenco dancer, Yinka Esi Graves.
The Bayano Foundation has organized a parade celebrating the African culture on Sunday, May 13 in Rio Abajo and Parque Lefevre, with delegations from different parts of the country.
The International Afro Festival 2018 will have events in the provinces of Cocle, Bocas del Toro, Colón, Darien and Panama. Its president, Kayra Harding, said that this is the seventh year in a row that it has taken place and is supported by schools, the local authorities and the public in general.
The Afro Festival Inaugural Gala will be on Wednesday, May 16, at the Panama Hotel. The Handicraft Fair will be on Thursday, May 17 at the Panama Hotel and the African Fashion Festival will take place the same day in the evening at the same venue.
The Great Black Ethnicity Parade will be in Rio Abajo on Sunday, May 20 and will be presided by Nogeillys Valle, a beautiful Colon girl who was selected as the face of the festival. Traditional Afro-Caribbean food will be sold on the route of the parade.
Bocas del Toro will also celebrate Black Ethnicity Month with a turban workshop and conference on Isla Colon on Monday, May 28.
The Municipality of Panama has also joined the festivities with a series of activities. The great concert “Africa in America” and the “Afro-Panamanian Gastronomic Corridor” will take place on Saturday, May 19, at the Figali Convention Center from 4:30 p.m. with performances by the Aragon Orchestra from Cuba, Fantan Mojah of Jamaica and ten national groups.
Other activities include, free movie screenings and a night of calypso. For more information visit https://cultura.mupa.gob.pa/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Programacion_AA_final-1.pdf.