May, “Mes de La Etnia Negra” | Black History Month in Panama

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May, “Mes de La Etnia Negra” | Black History Month in Panama

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May is El Mes de La Etnia Negra - or Black History Month - in Panama. This month serves to highlight the contributions people of African descent have made to Panama.

Many people don’t realize that there have been several waves of Afrodescendants to Panama. Afro-Panamanians are roughly 15% of the population, and an estimated 50% of Panamanians have African ancestry (it could easily be more considering the melting pot that Panama is).

The Afro-Panamanian population can be broken into the Afro-Colonial, those descended from slaves brought to Panama during the colonial period, and the Afro-Antillean who migrated to Panama to work on the first inter-oceanic Railroad and in the Panama Canal.

Enjoy live music in Las Clementinas "secret" garden!

A post shared by Habla Ya Spanish Schools (@hablaya) on

The Transatlantic Slave Trade brought the first wave of Africans to Panama as early as 1514. These people were forced to Panama from Guinea, Cameroon, Congo, and Angola, and created the Congo culture of resistance to slavery that still survives in Colon today.

Even with the end of slavery in 1821, AfroPanamanians suffered from a caste system in Panama that placed them at the bottom of society based on skin color.

The second and third migration of people of Afro-descent to Panama was during the construction of Panama Railroad the Panama Canal. Fifty to eighty thousand workers of African descent were imported from Jamaica, Martinique, Barbados, and Trinidad in the early 1900s, many did not survive the treacherous conditions and disease. The English-speaking laborers were referred to as Antilleans, or derisively as “chombos”.

These days, it is difficult to tell an Afro-Colonial descendent from an Afro-Antillean descendent. However, many of the remaining Afro-Antillean descendants in Colón, Cristóbal, Balboa, Panama City and the Archipelago of Bocas del Toro, still speak English or an English-Spanish creole referred to as Guarri- Guarri.

Although the contributions of AfroPanamanians to Panama’s music, food, and sports is widely celebrated, El Mes de La Etnia Negra aims to go pass stereotypes and dig deeper into the Afro-Panamanian experience and contributions to the formation of Panamanian society past, present and future.

Here are some activities we hope to see you at this month:

AfroPanaFest

  • Date and Time: May 10, 7PM - 10 PM
  • Location SuperMini Diablo Rosso in Sortis Hotel
  • Cost: $10
  • A conversation between 3 generations of AfroPanamanian leaders about identity, community, and the way forward.

AFROPANAFESTING en la #VitrinaDelTalentoNacional ❤ junto a @latapadelcoco @meninacongo @naturalyansi @aguarosablog @soytrends

Posted by SuperMini DiabloRosso on Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cimarronaje en Panama (Documentary)

  • Date and Time: May 12, 6PM
  • Location:Pedregal, Parque de las Madres
  • Cost: FREE
  • A documentary about the runaway slaves and their descendants in Panama

Historia de la Etnia Negra en Panama

  • Date and Time: May 15, 6PM
  • Location: Salon Las Oropéndolas in Parque Nacional Metropolitano
  • Cost: $5
  • A panel discussion on the AfroPanamanian history and opportunity to participate in a discussion and ask questions.

“El Cimarrón y su Fandango” (Photo Exposition)

  • Date and Time: May 17, 7PM
  • Location: Alianza Francesa
  • Cost: FREE

La inauguración de la exposición de la fotógrafa mexicana Mara Sánchez Renero "El Cimarrón y su Fandango: El desconocido...

Posted by Alianza Francesa de Panamá on Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Africa en America Concert

  • Date and Time: May 20, 12PM
  • Location: Roberto Duran Arena
  • Cost: $5
  • A concert bringing famous musicians from all over the Americas to pay tribute to their African roots

ÁFRICA EN AMÉRICA EL CONCIERTO

Ya comenzó el concierto #ÁfricaEnAmérica en la Arena Roberto Durán. 12 horas de música y cultura. No te lo puedes perder

Posted by Municipio de Panama on Saturday, May 20, 2017

Gran Desfile De La Etnia Negra

  • Date and Time: May 21, 12PM
  • Location: Via Españam between Calle 1 and the Republic of Haiti School
  • Cost: FREE
  • A parade featuring all of AfroPanamanian culture, music, and costumes from all around the country. A great event for the entire family

Desfile de la Etnia Negra

Posted by Municipio de Panama on Sunday, May 21, 2017

Foro Internacional Sobre Negritud Panameña

  • Date and Time: May 22 - 24, 9AM - 5PM
  • Location: Universidad de Panama
  • Cost: FREE

MAYO, MES DE LA ETNIA NEGRA

Los invitamos a participar del Foro Internacional sobre Negritud Panameña desde hoy lunes...

Posted by Municipio de Panama on Monday, May 22, 2017

Insula (Musical Event)

  • Date and Time: May 25, 7PM
  • Location: Universidad of Panama
  • Cost: FREE
  • A parade featuring all of AfroPanamanian culture, music, and costumes from all around the country. A great event for the entire family

Les invitamos al Concierto de “INSULA”, un grupo Francés de tres músicos que tocan un jazz caribeño con ritmos á...

Posted by Alianza Francesa de Panamá on Monday, May 22, 2017

Hope to see you at these events!

FIND MORE ABOUT SPANISH IMMERSION VACATIONS IN PANAMA... »

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Search our blog if you're visiting Panama! From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while in our country! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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