Magnus Eze, Enugu
Records show that centuries ago, a large number of Igbo slaves landed on Latin America and the Caribbean. It was therefore not surprising that an event was staged recently at Enugu Sports Club 1929, to begin the forging of closer ties between the Igbo and Afro-Latinos.
It was a good blend of Latin and Igbo cultures of arts, music and food when the world renowned Janette Housman, a US documentary photographer cum visual anthropologist, and resident of Coatepec, a historic town located in the central region of the Mexican state of Veracruz, was received at the Club.
The event was sponsored by the Association for Spanish Language Advancement in Nigeria (SLANG), a group founded by Dr. Uchenna Vasser, an Associate Professor of Spanish at Winston-Salem State University, in North Carolina, USA.
There were breath taking performances of the rich Igbo cultural dance and music; including exhibition of other forms of visual arts and crafts. In fact, a stage drama that night, centered on the how the Igbo were taken away from their land to slavery by the Europeans.
Immediate past Executive Chairman of Enugu Sports Club, who was central to the successful event, Ben Etiaba told Daily Sun that the essence of the programme was to foster closer ties between the Latin American world and the Igbo nation through arts.
Etiaba said there is no doubt that there is cultural affinity between the Igbo and the Spanish since majority of Igbo slaves landed in Latin America. Etiaba hinted of plans by SLANG to begin educational and cultural exchanges in the South East, urging tertiary institutions in the region to take advantage of the inherent opportunities: “I believe that Alliance Francaise in Enugu offers that. I’ll check up on that though but students of Linguistics in our Universities are likely to be taught that too. In any event, it was one of us, Mrs Uchenna Vasser that spoke to me months ago about bringing this integration movement to Enugu Sports Club. I was still the Executive Chairman then, so, I was very pleased to have been at the event at last,” he said.
He observed that all cultures have similar virtues such as honesty, respect for others, being brother’s keeper and others; so, he expressed the optimism that both cultures will impact on each other positively.
For years, Ms. Housman has researched the African presence and cultural manifestations in Mexico’s Costa Chica, Veracruz, and Yanga, in Cuba, in Brazil, and also in Haiti.
Daily Sun learnt that her many years of work in these regions; had resulted in the production of iconic photography on Afro Latin America. She is currently working on her first photography book on Afro-Mexicans.
Meanwhile, founder/promoter of SLANG Global, Uchenna Vasser said the association is determined to promote Spanish Language and culture and bring awareness of the Spanish-speaking African Diaspora of the Caribbean and Latin America to Nigeria.