In a speech to celebrate Africa Day on 25 May, UNESCO’s deputy director for foreign relations, Firmin Edouard Matoko, highlighted Cuba’s commitment to collaborative actions and solidarity with the African peoples for more than five decades. He also praised the deep ties of friendship that unite the Caribbean nation with Africa, a continent that, he said, “is deeply rooted in Cuban identity”.
He praised the Cuban medical brigades that he said had played a decisive role in the public health of the entire African continent. “Today again Cuba accepts the challenge, is present and once again extends a sister hand to Africa,” he said in reference to the 57 medical brigades of the Henry Reeve contingent that are working in 40 countries around the world.
Matoko praised Cuba’s broad cultural programme, in which the deep historical and cultural ties that unite Cuba and the Africa continent, and the varied expressions of the beautiful shared heritage are appreciated.
He regretted that this year the celebrations for Africa Day are postponed due to the “incredible crisis” caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, he considered, it a time to recognize that African and Afro-descendant culture offers humanity the chance to celebrate their common origin and highlight the role of culture as a lever for the development of countries.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez tweeted: “In #DiaDeAfrica we embrace the continent with which we share ancestors and battles for independence and life. Africa deserves more than a day, centuries of attention and solidarity from the world that enriched itself by impoverishing it.”
Cuban musicians celebrate Africa Day
Renowned artists from the contemporary Cuban music scene marked the celebration of Africa Day (25 May) on their social networks, with messages of congratulations and gratitude for the African heritage that floods Cuban blood and culture.
To remember the important date, which is commemorated every May 25 in tribute to the founding in 1963 of the Organization for African Unity, now known as Africa Union, the singer Yanet Valdés congratulated all her “Afro-descendant brothers and all the Cuban people in general”.
“Africa is the grandmother of many of our most important traditions. The African legacy is a determining feature in the formation of our identity and of much of what defines us as a culture and as a nation”, highlighted the young musician in a home video shared on YouTube.
“The folklore, the dances, the Cuban music, much of our cuisine, we owe to the influence of our African roots. I think it is a day not only to celebrate, but to raise awareness and reflect on our values, to be able to proudly experience our African heritages and essences”, she concluded.
Erick Iglesias (Cimafunk) commented on social media that “Africa Day is every day”, “…we carry that in our heads, in our blood and in our spirit”, and stressed that “Africa is the mother, blessings and roots”.
Likewise, the saxophonist Michel Herrera joined the celebration messages and shared the video of the track ‘Night in Botswana’, a collaborative production of the Cuban Institute of Music (ICM) and the National Centre of Popular Music. (watch below)
Herrera himself and other prominent performers and instrumentalists such as Samuel Formell, José Raúl Machado Arias, Charlie Gaytan, Yanet Valdés, Relfiwe Boleseng, Alejandro Pulido and Maytte Jacobo Muñiz participated in the video recording.
Under the tags # EnCaminoAlDíaDeAfrica # 25DeMayo # DíaDeAfrica # EcosDeAfrica #StayInHome #EstamosContigo # MusicosPorCuba #CubaEsCultura, other offerings from Cuban artists could be found on social media.
Among them is the drummer Ruy López-Nussa, with his collaborative video ‘Gracias Africa’ (with Alejandro Falcón and Octavio Rodríguez), and the live performance by Grupo Síntesis in Havana cathedral, interpreting their ‘Oyá’ piece. (See below)