Panama’s Black community promises to offer some new and exciting events for the month of May in its Celebration of Black Ethnicity. Panama is preparing to welcome representatives from African countries and their descendants in the first Afro Festival 2012 organized by government as well as non-governmental organizations.
The event will be held from May 16th to 19th and will offer a wide range of cultural activities, including a reggae concert and diverse competitions related to African or Afro centered identity of the people of African descent. On May 19th there will be a Reggae Concert at The Roberto Duran Arena. There will also be the Black Ethnicity parade in the city of Colon on May 27th from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M.
According to a recent press release, Ernesto Orillac, Deputy Administrator of Tourism (Autoridad de Turismo), affirmed that, “Culture is the greatest product of tourism that Panama can export, and Panama being a melting pot of races will be able to show off the culture of people of African descent so that it can be appreciated by tourists.”
Orrillac also stated that delegations from Colombia, The Dominican Republic, Brazil, Honduras, Costa Rica, Cuba, Nicaragua and other South American countries and the Caribbean will be expected. Locally there will be 30 stands including participation from of the Provinces of Bocas del Toro, Darién, Coclé and, of course, Colon accompanied by the groups and institutions that are identified with the Afro culture.
Ricardo Weeks, official Executive Secretary for Etnia Negra, argued that these festivities should be made official by the creation of a law and not by a decree, in this way when there is a change in Government all the work and effort generated in favor Black people or Afro-descendants, as stipulated by the U.N. will not be affected and go down the drain. “For this purpose,” said Weeks, we will be presenting two draft bills to the plenary of the National Assembly.”
Panama, states the press release, is taking regional leadership to host an event that seeks to highlight the image of people of African descent in our society with their artistic, musical, culinary and fashion demonstrations and activities.
On May 11th, in fact, The African Fashion Festival will feature the participation of lovely models wearing elegant original designs inspired by designs from the African continent. This fashion event will be followed by a variety of musical programming and dances.
The organizers point out that this event will feature exhibitions of products, paintings, photographs, and framed art in the support of Afro Women’s Network (La Red de Mujeres Afro-Descendientes), the Panamanian Woman’s Center (El Centro de la Mujer Panameña), the Center for Afro-Panamanian Studies (El Centro de Estudios Afro-Panameño) and Colon’s Black Ethnic Foundation (La Fundación de la Etnia de Colón).
We, at The Silver People Heritage Foundation, are doing our part to restore and preserve the basis for this cultural celebration and our Law #348, which passed into Law in March, has declared our Silver ancestors’ burial grounds, Silver Corozal, Mount Hope in Colon and Gatun Cemetery, National Historic and Cultural Patrimony under the administration and control of Panama’s National Historic Patrimony Secretariat.
After all, if it weren’t for our Afro-descendant forefathers from the islands of the Caribbean, we would not be able to hold our heads up high and celebrate our African ethnicity.
This story will continue.