For other uses, see Afro-Cuban (disambiguation).
|Related ethnic groups|
The term Afro-Cuban can also refer to historical or cultural elements in Cuba thought to emanate from this community and the combining of native African and other cultural elements found in Cuban society such as race, religion, music, language, the arts and class culture.
Main article: Demographics of Cuba
Thus a significant proportion of those living on the island affirm some African ancestry.
The matter is further complicated by the fact that a fair number of people still locate their origins in specific native African ethnic groups or regions, particularly the Yoruba (or Lucumí; see Olukumi people), Akan, Arará and Kongo, but also Igbo, Carabalí, Mandingo, Kissi, Fula, Makua and others.
A study estimated the genetic admixture of the population of Cuba to be 70% European, 22% African and 8% Native American.
Although Afro-Cubans can be found throughout Cuba, Eastern Cuba has a higher concentration of Afro-Cubans than other parts of the island and Havana has the largest population of Afro-Cubans of any city in Cuba.
Recently, many native African immigrants have been coming to Cuba, especially from Angola.
Also, immigrants from Jamaica and Haiti have been settling in Cuba, most of whom settle in the eastern part of the island, due to its proximity to their home countries, further contributing to the already high percentage of blacks on that side of the island.
A small percentage of Afro-Cubans left Cuba, mostly for the United States, (particularly Florida), where they and their U.S.-born children are called Cuban Americans, Hispanic Americans and African Americans.
The now-defunct Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami put the percentage of Cuba's black population at 9.3%.
The Minority Rights Group International says that "An objective assessment of the situation of Afro-Cubans remains problematic due to scant records and a paucity of systematic studies both pre- and post-revolution".
Afro-Cuban descendants in Africa
African countries such as Nigeria, the home of the Yoruba and Igbo cultures, and Spanish Guinea experienced an influx of ex-slaves from Cuba brought there as indentured servants during the 17th century, and again during the 19th century.
Despite being free to return to Cuba when their tenure was over, they remained in these countries marrying into the local indigenous population.
The former slaves were brought to Africa by the Royal Orders of September 13, 1845 (by way of voluntary arrangement) and a June 20, 1861, deportation from Cuba, due to the lack of volunteers.
Similar circumstances previously occurred during the 17th century where ex-slaves from both Cuba and Brazil were offered the same opportunity.
Angola also has communities of Afro-Cubans, Amparos.
They are descendants of Afro-Cuban soldiers brought to the country in 1975 as a result of the Cuban involvement in the Cold War.
As a result of this era, there exists a small Spanish-speaking community in Angola of Afro-Cubans numbering about 100,000.
Main article: Haitian Cuban
Haitian Creole and culture first entered Cuba with the arrival of Haitian immigrants at the start of the 19th century.
They came mainly to the east, and especially Guantánamo, where the French later introduced sugar cultivation, constructed sugar refineries and developed coffee plantations.
Later, Haitians continued to come to Cuba to work as braceros (Spanish for "manual laborers") in the fields cutting cane.
Their living and working conditions were not much better than slavery.
Although they planned to return to Haiti, most stayed on in Cuba.
For years, many Haitians and their descendants in Cuba did not identify themselves as such or speak Creole.
In the eastern part of the island, many Haitians suffered discrimination.
After Spanish, Creole is the second most-spoken language in Cuba.
Classes in Creole are offered in Guantanamo, Matanzas and the City of Havana.
There is a Creole-language radio program.
Santería is syncretized with Roman Catholicism.
The Abakuá religion is a secret society for men, similar to the freemason orders of Europe.
It has not been syncretized with Roman Catholicism and remains close to its origins in southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon, from the Ekpe society of the Efik people of Cross River State and nearby areas.
Since the mid-nineteenth century, innovations within Cuban music have been attributed to the Afro-Cuban community.
Over the course of the development of Cuban music, there has been a marked departure away from the traditional European model and towards the improvisational African traditions.
Afro-Cuban musicians have taken pre-existing genres such as trova, country, and rap and added their own realities of living in a socialist country and as a black person in the country.
Genres like Nueva Trova are seen as live representations of the revolution and have been affected by afro-Cuban musicians like Pablo Milanes who included African spirituals in his early repertory.
Music in Cuba is encouraged both as a scholarly exercise and a popular enjoyment.
To Cubans, music and the study of it is an integral part of the revolution.
Audiences are proud of mixed ethnicity that makes up the music from the Afro-Cuban community despite there being a boundary of distrust and uncertainty between Cubans and Afro-Cuban culture.
Afro-Cuban music involves two main categories of music, religious and profane.
Religious music includes the chants, rhythms and instruments used in rituals of the above-mentioned religious currents, while profane music focuses largely on rumba, guaguancó and comparsa (carnival music) as well as several lesser styles such as the tumba francesa.
Virtually all Cuban music has been influenced by African rhythms.
Cuban popular music, and quite a lot of the art music, has strands from both Spain and Africa, woven into a unique Cuban cloth.
The son is a typical example of this.
African son music combines African instruments and playing styles with the meter and rhythm of Spanish poetic forms.
While much of the music is often performed in cut-time, artists typically use an array of time signatures like 6/8 for drumming beats.
Clave, on the other hand, uses a polymetric 7/8 + 5/8 time signature.
Afro-Cuban arts emerged in the early 1960's with musicians such as Enrique Bonne and Pello de Afrokan spearheading a movement of amateurs in music bringing African-influenced drumming to the forefront of Cuban music.
Enrique Bonne's drumming ensembles took inspiration from Cuban folklore, traditional trova, dance music, and American Jazz.
Pello de Afrokan created a new dance rhythm called Mozambique that increased in popularity after his predominantly afro-Cuban folklore troupe performed in 1964.
Afro-Cuban religious music had historically been thought of as a lesser form of culture by authorities in prerevolutionary Cuba, with religious drummers persecuted and their instruments confiscated.
Afro-Cuban music after the revolution was allowed to be practiced more openly but with suspicion due to its' close relationship with the various Afro-Cuban religions.
The government created the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional as the first revolutionary institution devoted entirely to the performance of "national folklore" a title given to Afro-Cuban music and traditions.
Despite official institutional support from the Castro's regime, Afro-Cuban music was treated mostly with ambivalence throughout the second half of the twentieth century.
Audiences looked down on traditional and religious music from the Afro-Cuban community as primitive and anti-revolutionary, music educators continued prerevolutionary notions of indifference toward afro-Cuban folklore, and the religious nature of afro-Cuban music lead to criticisms of the government's whitening and de-Africanization of the music.
Religious concerts declined, musical instruments related to Santería were confiscated and destroyed, afro-Cuban celebrations were banned outright, and strict limits were placed on the quantity of religious music heard on the radio and television.
Intolerant attitudes regarding afro-Cuban music softened in the 1980's and 70's as the afro-Cuban community began to fuse religious elements into their music.
Afro-Cuban music in the 1990's became a mainstay of Cuba's tourism economy.
Members of religious groups earned their living by performing and teaching ritual drumming, song, and dance, to tourists visiting the country.
Rap was adopted by afro-Cubans and in 1999, became a solidified genre within Cuba with the rise of hip-hop group Orishas.
Cuban hip-hop differed from its American influencers due to the focus on criticism of the Cuban state and the global economic order.
Racism, colonialism, imperialism, and global capitalism were topic consciously covered by Cuban hip-hop artists as a medium for social critique.
Other cultural elements considered to be Afro-Cuban can be found in language (including syntax, vocabulary, and style of speech).
The Afro-Cuban religions all maintain some degree of use of African languages.
Main article: Racism in Cuba
According to anthropologists dispatched by the European Union, racism is entrenched in Cuba.
Afro-Cubans are systematically excluded from positions in tourism-related jobs, where they could earn tips in hard currencies.
According to the EU study, Afro-Cubans are relegated to poor housing, and African Cubans are excluded from managerial positions.
Enrique Patterson describes race as a "social bomb" and says that "If the Cuban government were to permit Afro-Cubans to organize and raise their problems before [authorities] ... totalitarianism would fall".
Esteban Morales Domínguez, a professor at the University of Havana, says that "The absence of the debate on the racial problem already threatens ... the revolution's social project".
Carlos Moore, who has written extensively on the issue, says that "There is an unstated threat, Afro-cubans in Cuba know that whenever you raise race in Cuba, you go to jail.
Therefore the struggle in Cuba is different.
There cannot be a civil rights movement.
You will have instantly 10,000 black people dead.
[...] The government is frightened to the extent to which it does not understand African Cubans today.
You have a new generation of Afro-Cubans who are looking at politics in another way."
Barack Obama's victory has raised disturbing questions about the institutional racism in Cuba.
The Economist noted "The danger starts with his example: after all, a young, Afro-cuban, progressive politician has no chance of reaching the highest office in Cuba, although a majority of the island's people are of mostly African descent"
In the years between the triumph of the revolution and the victory at Playa Girón the Cuban government was one of the world's most proactive regimes in the fight against discrimination.
It achieved significant gains in racial equality through a series of egalitarian reforms early in the 1960s.
He is quoted as saying: "One of the most just battles that must be fought, a battle that must be emphasized more and more, which I might call the fourth battle--the battle to end racial discrimination at work centers.
I repeat: the battle to end racial discrimination at work centers.
Of all the forms of racial discrimination the worst is the one that limits the colored Cuban's access to jobs. "
Castro pointed to the distinction between social segregation and employment, while placing great emphasis on correcting the latter.
In response to the large amount of racism that existed in the job market, Castro issued anti-discrimination laws.
In addition, he attempted to close the class gap between wealthy white Cubans and Afro-Cubans with a massive literacy campaign among other egalitarian reforms in the early and mid-1960s.
Two years after his 1959 speech at the Havana Labor Rally, Castro declared that the age of racism and discrimination was over.
In a speech given at the Confederation of Cuban Workers in observance of May Day, Castro declared that the "just laws of the revolution ended unemployment, put an end to villages without hospitals and schools, enacted laws which ended discrimination, control by monopolies, humiliation, and the suffering of the people."
Although inspiring, many would consider the claim to be premature."
Research conducted by Yesilernis Peña, Jim Sidanius and Mark Sawyer in 2003, suggests that social discrimination is still prevalent, despite the low levels of economic discrimination.
After considering the issue solved, the Cuban government moved beyond the issue of racism.
His message marked a shift in Cuban society's perception of racism that was triggered by the change in government focus."
The government's announcement easily allowed the Cuban public to deny discrimination without first correcting the stereotypes that remained in the minds of those who grew up in a Cuba that was racially and economically divided.
Many who argue that racism does not exist in Cuba base their claims on the idea of Latin American Exceptionalism.
According to the argument of Latin American Exceptionality, a social history of intermarriage and mixing of the races is unique to Latina America.
For many Cubans this translates into an argument of "racial harmony", often referred to as racial democracy.
In the case of Cuba, ideas of Latin American Exceptionalism have delayed the progress of true racial harmony.
In spite of all the promises and speeches by government leaders, racial discrimination against Afro-Cubans continues to be a major Human Rights issue for the Cuban government, even resulting in riots in Central Havana, a mostly black neighborhood in the capital.
Most of the Latin population of Tampa in the 1950s was working class and lived in restricted areas, ethnic enclaves in the vicinity of Tampa's hundreds of cigar factories.
African Cubans were tolerated to an extent in the Latin quarter (where most neighborhoods and cigar factories were integrated).
In this Latin quarter, there existed racial discrimination despite its subtleness.
Main article: Afrocubanismo
During the 1920s and 1930s Cuba experienced a movement geared towards Afro-Cuban culture called Afrocubanismo.
The movement had a large impact on Cuban literature, poetry, painting, music, and sculpture.
It was the first artistic campaign in Cuba that focused on one particular theme: African culture.
Specifically it highlighted the struggle for independence from Spain, African slavery, and building a purely Cuban national identity.
History of the movement
The movement evolved from an interest in the rediscovery of African heritage.
It developed in two very different and parallel stages.
One stage stemmed from European artists and intellectuals who were interested in African art and musical folk forms.
It was characterized by the participation of white intellectuals such as Cubans Alejo Carpentier, Rómulo Lachatañeré, Fortunato Vizcarrondo, Fernando Ortiz and Lydia Cabrera, Puerto Rican Luis Palés Matos and Spaniards Pablo Picasso and Roger de Lauria.
The African-inspired art tended to represent Afro-Cubans with cliché images such as a black man sitting beneath a palm tree with a cigar.
Poems and essays by Afro-Cuban writers began to be published in the 1930s in newspapers, magazines and books, where they discussed their own personal heritage.
Afro-Cuban and Afro-Cuban heritage artists such as Nicolás Guillén, Alberto Arredondo and Emilio Ballagas brought light to the once-marginalized African race and culture.
It became a symbol of empowerment and individuality for Afro-Cubans within the established Western culture of the Americas and Europe.
This empowerment became a catalyst for the second stage to be characterized by Afro-Cuban artists making art that truly reflected what it meant to be Afro-Cuban.
Beginning in the 1930s this stage depicted a more serious view of black culture like African religions and the struggles associated with slavery.
Results of the movement
The lasting reputation of the Afrocubanismo movement was the establishment of a New World art form that used aesthetics from both European and African culture.
Although the actual movement of Afrocubanismo faded by the early 1940s, Afro-Cuban culture continues to play a vital role in the identity of Cuba.
It has been the Cuban Revolution that opened up a space for extended research of African ethnic roots in Cuba.
The rhetoric of the Revolution incorporates black history and its contribution as an important stratum of Cuban identity.
The Revolution has funded many projects that restore the work of Afro-Cubans in an effort to accommodate an African-driven identity within the new anti-racist Cuban society.
Arts and entertainment
- Sammy Davis Jr - singer, dancer, actor
- Renny Arozarena - actor
- Gastón Baquero - poet
- Jake Cannavale - actor
- Matt Cedeño - actor and model
- Celia Cruz - singer
- Mellow Man Ace - rapper
- Rosario Dawson - actress
- Ángel Escobar - poet
- Lola Falana - actress, singer and dancer
- Rome Flynn- actor
- Sara Gómez - filmmaker
- Nicolás Guillén - poet
- Nestor Hernández - photographer
- Georgina Herrera - poet
- Wifredo Lam - artist
- Coco López - artist
- Faizon Love - actor
- Nancy Morejón - poet
- Luis Moro - actor and filmmaker
- Gina Torres - actress
- Alexis Valdés - artist and comedian
- Laz Alonso - Actor
- Afro-Cuban All Stars
- Francisco Aguabella — percussionist
- Federico A. "Tata Güines" Soto Alejo — percussionist and bandleader
- Carlos Alfonso — bassist and leader of Síntesis
- X Alfonso — singer
- Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros — trumpeter and bandleader
- Guillermo Barreto — percussionist
- Abelardo Barroso — singer and bandleader
- Mario Bauzá — musician and songwriter; brother-in-law of Machito
- Ignacio Berroa — percussionist
- Leo Brouwer — composer and guitarist
- Cándido Camero — percussionist
- "Changuito" — percussionist and former member of Los Van Van
- Julito Collazo — percussionist and singer
- Celia Cruz — singer
- Christina Milian — singer
- Anga Díaz — percussionist and former member of Irakere
- Addys D'Mercedes — singer
- Richard Egües — flute player, a member of Orquesta Aragón
- Ibrahim Ferrer — singer (Buena Vista Social Club)
- Juan de Marcos González — musical director of the Buena Vista Social Club
- Rubén González — pianist (Conjunto de Arsenio Rodríguez and Buena Vista Social Club)
- Graciela — singer; stepsister of Machito
- Francisco Raúl "Machito" Gutiérrez Grillo — singer, musician, and bandleader
- Marcelino "Rapindey" Guerra — singer and composer
- Amaury Gutiérrez — singer
- Oscar Hernández — songwriter; known for his lyrics "Ella y yo" and "La rosa roja;" cousin of Alberto Arredondo's mother
- Generoso "Tojo" Jiménez — trombonist
- Enrique Jorrín — violinist, composer, and inventor of the cha-cha-chá rhythm
- Pedro Knight — trumpeter with Sonora Matancera, second husband, manager after 1967, and eventual widower of Celia Cruz
- Xiomara Laugart — singer
- Calixto Leicea — trumpeter, songwriter, and arranger with Sonora Matancera
- Pío Leyva — singer and songwriter (Buena Vista Social Club)
- Olivia Longott — singer
- Israel "Cachao" López — bassist, composer, and bandleader, creator of the mambo and the first to record Cuban jam sessions (descargas)
- Orestes "Macho" López — pianist and songwriter; brother of Cachao
- Orlando "Cachaíto" López — bassist (Buena Vista Social Club); nephew of Cachao and Macho
- La Lupe — singer
- Antonio Machín — singer and bandleader
- Kalimba Marichal — Mexican-born singer, actor, and athlete
- Rita Marley — singer, humanitarian, and widow of Bob Marley
- Mellow Man Ace — rapper
- Celeste Mendoza — singer
- Pablo Milanés — singer
- Benny Moré — singer and bandleader; cousin of Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros
- Fats Navarro — jazz musician
- Bola de Nieve — singer and pianist
- Armando Peraza — percussionist
- Ignacio Piñeiro — musician, bandleader, and composer
- Omara Portuondo — singer (Buena Vista Social Club)
- Luciano "Chano" Pozo — Afro-Cuban/jazz percussionist, composer, and bandleader
- Dámaso Pérez Prado — "the king of mambo," composer, and the creator of the bachata rhythm, a variant of the guaracha
- Ramón "Monguito el Único" Sardiñas Quián — singer
- Orlando "Puntilla" Ríos — percussionist, singer, and bandleader
- Arsenio Rodríguez — musician, bandleader, and songwriter
- Yotuel Romero — singer
- Lázaro Ros — singer
- Gonzalo Rubalcaba — jazz pianist
- Ramón "Mongo" Santamaría — musician, songwriter, and bandleader
- Jon Secada — singer
- Compay Segundo — singer (Dúo Los Compadres, Grupo de Compay Segundo, and Buena Vista Social Club) and bandleader
- Sen Dog — rapper and member of Cypress Hill
- Rozonda Thomas — singer and composer
- Bebo Valdés — pianist
- Carlos "Patato" Valdes — conga player and composer
- Chucho Valdés — pianist and leader of Irakere, son of Bebo Valdés
- Javier Vázquez — songwriter, arranger, and pianist with Sonora Matancera; son of Bubú Valdés; succeeded Lino Frías on piano
- Yusa — female bassist
- Salvador Valdés Mesa — First Vice President of Cuba, former trade union leader, Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba
- Juan Almeida Bosque — politician and composer
- Víctor Dreke — Cuban revolutionary and second-in-command to Ernesto "Che" Guevara in the Congo
- Juan Gualberto Gómez — 1890s revolutionary leader, close collaborator of José Martí; served as a member of the committee of consultations that drafted and amended the Constitution of 1901 and as a Representative and Senator
- Mariana Grajales — part of the Cuban Independence War; Antonio Maceo's mother
- Esteban Lazo Hernández — politician
- Antonio Maceo — 1890s revolutionary leader
- Jorge Luis García Pérez — human rights activist
- Rafael Serra — writer and political journalist
- Harry "Pombo" Villegas — Cuban Communist guerilla
- Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez — cosmonaut; first Latin American and first person of African descent in outer space
- Aroldis Chapman — MLB
- Gilbert Arenas — NBA
- Javier Arenas (American football) — NFL
- Yoel Romero — Olympic wrestler and mixed martial artist
- Hector Lombard — Olympic Judoka
- Alexis Vila — Olympic wrestler
- Bert Campaneris — MLB, cousin of José Cardenal
- José Cardenal — MLB
- Joel Casamayor — boxer; WBC Lightweight Champion
- José Contreras — MLB
- Martín Dihigo — Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame
- El Gran Lotario- Wrestler
- Juan Carlos Gómez — boxer; former WBC Cruiserweight Champion
- Liván Hernández — MLB, half-brother of El Duque
- Orlando "El Duque" Hernández — MLB
- Kid Chocolate — boxer; former World Featherweight and Junior Lightweight Champion
- Orestes Kindelán — most prolific home run hitter in the history of amateur Cuban baseball
- Minnie Miñoso — MLB
- José Nápoles — boxer; former World Welterweight Champion; also known as "Mantequilla" Nápoles
- Sergio Oliva — only bodybuilder to have ever beaten Arnold Schwarzenegger in a Mr. Olympia competition
- Tony Oliva — MLB, three time batting champion
- Luis Ortiz — professional heavyweight boxer and former WBA Heavyweight Champion
- Brayan Peña — MLB
- Tony Pérez — MLB Hall of Fame
- Anthony Echemendia — amateur wrestler
- Juan Pizarro — MLB
- Yasiel Puig — MLB
- Ana Fidelia Quirot — athlete
- Alexei Ramírez — MLB
- Sugar Ramos — boxer; former WBA Featherweight Champion
- Alexis Rubalcaba — amateur boxer
- Félix Savón — amateur boxer
- Javier Sotomayor — world record holder in high jump
- Teófilo Stevenson — amateur boxer
- Luis Tiant — MLB
- Regla Torres — volleyball player
- Cristóbal Torriente — Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame
- Jorge Orta — MLB
- Afro-Latin Americans – Central and South America
- Black Hispanic and Latino Americans – the United States
- Cabildo (Cuba)
- Haitian Cuban
- Angolan Civil War
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afro-Cubans.