Panama is known as a melting pot. This small isthmus has always been a transit point since it was colonized by the Spanish. This Sunday, May 28, the month of the Black Ethnicity is celebrated in Plaza Santa Ana, which is next to the Casco Viejo of Panama. This activity is being organized by the Ministry of Culture in conjunction with the Santa Ana Community Board.
The second version of the celebration of the month of the Black Ethnicity will begin at 11 a.m. and will end at 7 p.m. There is a complete agenda for those who want to spend the whole day in Plaza Santa Ana. You can also go for a while to see some part of the agenda. In total there are 20 cultural and artistic activities that will be shown to the public.
Black Ethnicity Month
On May 30, 2000, Law 9 was passed, which declares that the month of May commemorates the Black Ethnicity of Panama. On May 30, 1820, King Ferdinand VII of Spain abolished the slave trade law in his territory. This month highlights the values and culture of people of African descent.
Africans were forcibly brought to the Americas in the 16th century to replace the indigenous population that was reduced after disease, war, and forced labor by the Spanish. These slaves worked to extract gold and silver. They also dived to extract pearls in the Pearl Archipelago and served as muleteers on the trans-isthmian road, during the fairs of Nombre de Dios and Portobelo.
Another group of Afro-Antilleans arrived for the construction of the trans-isthmian railway (1850-55) and later for the construction of the Panama Canal (1904-14). These groups came from the Caribbean islands and not from Africa. The month of the Black Ethnicity pays homage to the influence of this population in gastronomy, dance, music, clothing, sports, culture, religion and others.
Celebration in Plaza Santa Ana
The celebration of the month of the Black Ethnicity in Plaza Santa Ana highlights the identity of this group of Panamanians, mixing history and cultural expressions. There will be artisan and gastronomic stalls where visitors can try varieties of Afro-descendant and local food. This gastronomic part joins “Flavors of Santa Ana” which is promoted by the community board. There will also be gastronomic workshops to teach visitors how to prepare these recipes.
During the month of May it is common to see people dressed in colorful African clothing. The designer Nataly Orrego will be part of the event showing her designs in combination with artistic expressions, dance, and live music. At 1 p.m. there will be a training given by Gerardo Neugovsen, who is an expert in the creative economy.
This event in Plaza Santa Ana ends at 7 p.m. with a parade of independent bands and the comparsa del arrabal. Both locals and tourists can spend a pleasant Sunday learning and sharing the customs and culture of this group of Afro-descendant Panamanians.