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mariauganA respected leader in African tourism, Maria Baryamujura expertise is in community tourism in her native country of Uganda. Known for its rich and proud ethnic heritage, and for being a warm hospitable country, Uganda has a number of various tribes making up its social fabric, each with its unique cultural identity. Maria has found a way to showcase her country’s culture while providing opportunities for some of the people. In 1998 Maria founded the Community Based Tourism Initiative (COBATI) which has served to empower rural villages in Uganda to participate in community tourism to improve their livelihoods. Through this initiative, tourists and visitors to the country can learn about local cultures, and purchase handcrafts and goods from the people.

A social entrepreneur, Maria has over 26 years of experience in sustainable tourism development and women empowerment both within and outside of East Africa. She has worked closely with Ugandan government, and local and international agencies to enhance household incomes through community tourism and sustainable environmental projects. Maria also sits on various boards and consults with many tourism organizations and professionals regarding the promotion of Uganda and African tourism and development.

Maria is also an Ashoka fellow. An organization that recognizes inspirational individuals from around the world whose life and work demonstrate how much one person can do to make the world better, Ashoka is the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with nearly 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in at least 70 countries. Identifying women around the globe who are working to put their system changing ideas into practice, Ashoka recognized Maria for her lifelong passion for tourism and community development after an intense two-year evaluation of her work. 

Maria is working to help rural households and communities reap economic rewards from tourism. Through COBATI, she is changing traditional perceptions of what constitutes tourism by turning various aspects of rural cultures and livelihoods into tourist attractions that generate income for the communities and rural citizens of Uganda. She is providing non-conventional opportunities and services for tourists to experience, and also creating a new understanding about tourism and how different communities can become involved. Maria offers experiences beyond wild game adventures and upscale traditional hotels. With a focus on people and their cultures, Maria organizes people in rural communities to become complete tourism services providers.

Bombo-Nubian-Cultural-CentreOne of the projects Maria is passionate about is the development of homestead tourism. Through COBATI, she is able to link tourism to conservation, cultural heritage and sustainable rural development to enhance the livelihood of the people and to enrich Uganda as a tourism product. COBATI has helped to initiate a Homestay Model Homes Program where selected homes are upgraded to a level where they can host tourists. The family is trained in areas that include visitor handling, nutrition and hygiene. The homestay program economically empowers families while providing cross-cultural exchange between hosts and visitors. The COBATI “Homestead Tourism program allows visitors the opportunity to share the extraordinary experiences that they have with rural communities.

One such program is the Bombo Community Tourism Initiative, a village-based tourism cluster made up of several homestays, a women’s handcraft group, traditional dancers, and a mini cultural centre. Maria worked with this initiative as a community tourism trainer. The initiative is community-owned by Nubians under their umbrella association, Uganda Nubian Consultative Forum. Initiated in 2009 and was successfully launched in 2011, this initiative has empowered the village to become a viable community tourism destination. Over the past few years, Bombo has hosted domestic and international tourists which helped to increase handcraft sales in the community.

COBATI also provides valuable tourism services to rural communities that include training, mentoring, study tours, establishing micro village enterprises and building strategic partnerships. Opened in January 2014 is the COBATI Training Center for life skills training. The center’s objective is to reach out and support the vulnerable in communities and provide basic functional skills training to help communities with challenges. Located in Mbarara Municipality in southwestern Uganda, three hours from the capital city of Kampala in a transitory district to seven of Uganda’s ten National Parks, one of the the training center's goal is to mentor rural women, and village girls and boys to use their hands to tap into some of their indigenous skills and the surrounding environment in order to create their own work.

COBATI-Training-Center-988x800Establishing a training center has been a dream of Maria for a very long time. For more than 20 years, she has wanted to establish a community training center to inspire change and social improvement. “Our programs will encourage participants to invest in themselves, be ethical, work hard, and move from crime and early marriages. This can help to end the vicious cycle of poverty,” explains Maria who serves as executive director of COBATI. “Our goal is to mentor people to shift their mindset, embrace new ideas, discover their talent, and acquire skills that will enable them to create income opportunities.” COBATI uses the center as a platform to conduct seminars and workshops to help improve the quality of life for community members by equipping them with simple life skills.

Maria’s work has taken her to many areas in Uganda where she meets up with the people in their various communities. Due to lack of information, many of these people in rural areas do not see their potential in terms of what they have in their environment and their culture that could serve as tourism products. However some of the people are catching on and becoming more innovative.  COBATI is helping out by showing them how they can use their skills and make money through community tourism. Maria believes that more enhanced market-driven programs that protect the environment, preserve cultural heritage and contribute to sustainable economic development must be put in place.

brown and mariaMaria has been recognized locally, nationally and internationally as a champion for promoting tourism and sustainable environment for community development. She was inducted into the inaugural African Diaspora World Tourism Hall of Fame in the United States where she was awarded for her accomplishments. Her work has earned her various awards not only in tourism but also “For outstanding contributions to improving the lives of others for a better Uganda.” The recipient of Award of Excellence from the Government of Uganda in recognition of her contribution to tourism and women empowerment, Maria’s work has also been praised by an extensive list of media sources. She was nominated by the New Vision readers (Uganda’s Leading Daily) among Ugandans Making a Difference though taking initiative in tackling their communities’ problems in different spheres through social projects. 

Currently, Maria is spearheading development of a network of rural tourism clusters around Uganda’s Protected Areas and tourist circuits. She is working with COBATI to train the communities in the sustainable use of Natural resources and in generating income through ecotourism, handicrafts and improving household environment to a level at which rural homesteads can attract and host responsible travelers seeking to interact with nature and culture.

handicraftsuganMaria is particularly proud of helping with the development of handicraft products projects that are specific to the culture and traditions among communities and tribes. COBATI works with tapping the skills of indigenous people and rural communities. Maria wants people to realize that tourism is just not restricted to hotel owners and tour operators. “Everyday people and those in rural communities can be players in the tourism industry also,” she says. Despite living through two wars, surviving as as a refugee and twice losing all of her earthly possessions, Maria still continues to think about how she can help others.  

“I wouldn't have accomplished all of this without my strong faith in God. I am a Christian woman and I believe that He has been by my side through all my trials and triumphs. I owe all that I am to God and of course to my parents and family," she says. Maria is involved in a number of church women and girls empowerment activities.  As an Elder in Ankole Diocese in South Western Uganda, and All Saints Cathedral where she is a member, she a Christian Women Fellowship where she serves as chair.  

mariandyog

Maria believes that one of the biggest hindrance to Uganda’s tourism is ignorance of people about their own country's potential as a tourist hub. "Everywhere I go I see so much potential, things that would make great improvements to the communities," she says. One of the places she has introduced community tourism to is the Buhoma community in Bwindi. She helped to identify the sites in the village, and a walking route to them was mapped in 2003. The sites include a tea plantation, an alcohol distilling plant, a traditional healer, the Batwa camp at the top of the hill and other sites that depict the way of life of the Buhoma people. 

Maria is continuously working as an advocate for increasing awareness of the opportunities that community tourism can generate in Uganda, as well as Africa in general.  

Photos: 1) Maria Baryamujura, 2) Maria with women of Nubian Cultural Cultural Center 3) At the opening of the COBATI Training Center 4) Maria at the African Diaspora World Tourism(ADWT) Awards with Dr. Ewart Brown, winner of the inaugural ADWT Person of the Year award, 5) Handicrafts made by rural communities 6) Maria(r) with Yogi Biriggwa, South African Airways Manager for Uganda and Rwanda. 

 

 

carThe National Park Service announced today that Perini Management Services was awarded a $5.6 million contract to begin restoring the Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site. This contract is for the first phase of a three-phase project. Phase one will restore the interior and exterior of Dr. Woodson's home and stabilize the adjacent buildings.
 
"This is a major step in opening Dr. Woodson's home for people to visit," Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail said. "The National Park Service is committed to sharing our nation's history, and restoring, preserving and opening his home will help people learn about and honor Dr. Woodson's work and legacy."
 
Phase one of construction will begin in early June 2015 and is expected to last 12-18 months. Once this phase is complete, the public will be able to visit the Woodson Home on a limited basis through pre-arranged tours.carter
 
About Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site: Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site at 1538 9th Street, N.W., was Dr. Woodson's home from 1915 to 1950. Dr. Woodson founded The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). Dr. Woodson, called the "Father of Black History," founded the association to ensure the continuance of the study of African American history. The Carter G. Woodson Home NHS served as the national headquarters of the Association until the early 1970s. The home was designated a National Historic Landmark on May 11, 1976, and on February 27, 2006, it became part of the national park system.

rihannaPop star Rihanna danced to Cuban music and sampled local cuisine on an impromptu visit to Havana, the latest big name from the US music scene to visit the island, Agence France Presse reports.

Rihanna, who hails from Barbados, arrived “on the fly, as we Cubans say,” for an unscheduled visit, said Ernesto Blanco, the owner of the Restaurante-Paladar La Fontana, where she dined and danced on Wednesday night shortly after flying to the island.

“She specifically asked to eat Cuban food,” he disclosed. The Umbrella singer ate black beans, grilled chorizos and a local dish called “grandma’s steak,” online magazine OnCuba said on its Facebook page. She then jigged to “classic Cuban music” by the restaurant’s in-house band, it said.

Rumours had been circulating in Cuba that Rihanna was on her way to the island to film her next music video. Blanco said Rihanna, 27, was travelling with four people, plus her bodyguards. As a Barbadian national, Rihanna is not subject to US restrictions on travel to Cuba.

But she faces the same obstacles as other US residents to travel to the communist island, which commercial airlines cannot service directly from the US under the 1962 embargo. President Barack Obama has eased restrictions on travel to Cuba as part of the landmark rapprochement that he and his counterpart Raul Castro announced last December. But currently only approved charter flights can connect the two countries.

Rihanna’s visit comes after pop diva Beyonce and her rapper husband Jay Z travelled to Cuba in April 2013 to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary.

 

Source: Repeating Islands

For the original report go to http://www.gulf-times.com/us-latin%20america/182/details/441174/rihanna-in-surprise-visit-to-havana

 

 

east africaEast Africa is fast becoming a global conference tourism destination. Facilities for conferencing in the region are being developed and upgraded to offer a first class experience, which has seen many clients make it their preferred destination. East African countries are among the number one conference venues in Africa and across the world. With excellent facilities, the cities are engaged in this business all year round. Conference tourism involves service provision to business travellers attending seminars, workshops, conferences and conventions. Conference tourism is the largest and fastest growing segment of the modern tourism sector. It has a higher financial impact because travellers spend more than their leisure counterparts. Often, their expenses are paid for by the organisations they represent, leaving the tourists with substantial disposable incomes to spend.

In conference tourism for example, Kenya is ranked fourth in Africa after South Africa, Egypt and Morocco. This is an improvement from 2004 when it was fifth. This is attributed to conference facilities of international standards and back-up services recently brought in. Revenue from conference tourism is growing due to several factors. They include the rehabilitation of key conference facilities in the region, which have played a crucial role in this business as it has hosted and continues to host many international meetings. East Africa has a wide variety of beachside resorts as well as state-of-the-art conference facilities. This option is growing in popularity for companies that wish to treat their employees to an escape from the typical inner city business feel. The region is an ideal venue for conferences, workshops and seminars whether for a large or small group of participants. Hotels have state of-the-art ultra-modern conference facilities. This makes this region the perfect destination for major international conferences, travel and events. The region is also an attractive incentive destination for smart global companies seeking to reward their employees in style. More and more companies are seeking new and innovative strategies to increase their revenue, improve customer satisfaction and remain competitive in the global market place.

East Africa is fast becoming a global conference tourism destination. Facilities for conferencing in the region are being developed and upgraded to offer a first class experience, which has seen many clients make it their preferred destination. East African countries are among the number one conference venues in Africa and across the world. With excellent facilities, the cities are engaged in this business all year round. Conference tourism involves service provision to business travellers attending seminars, workshops, conferences and conventions. Conference tourism is the largest and fastest growing segment of the modern tourism sector. It has a higher financial impact because travellers spend more than their leisure counterparts. Often, their expenses are paid for by the organisations they represent, leaving the tourists with substantial disposable incomes to spend.

In conference tourism for example, Kenya is ranked fourth in Africa after South Africa, Egypt and Morocco. This is an improvement from 2004 when it was fifth. This is attributed to conference facilities of international standards and back-up services recently brought in. Revenue from conference tourism is growing due to several factors. They include the rehabilitation of key conference facilities in the region, which have played a crucial role in this business as it has hosted and continues to host many international meetings. East Africa has a wide variety of beachside resorts as well as state-of-the-art conference facilities. This option is growing in popularity for companies that wish to treat their employees to an escape from the typical inner city business feel. The region is an ideal venue for conferences, workshops and seminars whether for a large or small group of participants. Hotels have state of-the-art ultra-modern conference facilities. This makes this region the perfect destination for major international conferences, travel and events. The region is also an attractive incentive destination for smart global companies seeking to reward their employees in style. More and more companies are seeking new and innovative strategies to increase their revenue, improve customer satisfaction and remain competitive in the global market place.

Aviation in East Africa is expanding exponentially mainly driven by increased business travel and tourism in the region. The region offers something new for conference planners and organisers. Many top class hotels, safari lodges, beach resorts, and even tented bush camps offer world-class facilities. They include halls and private meeting rooms, audio visual and multi-media services and telecommunications. The facilities combined with comfortable surroundings, good accommodation and fine cuisine, mean that professional and effective conferences can be held in the wild. Conference and function rooms feature state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment for meetings including complimentary wired or wireless broadband Internet access; intelligent lighting system at the Island Ballroom; satellite and teleconferencing available upon request; simultaneous translation system available upon request; slide, overhead, LCD and direct projectors; strategically positioned motorised projectors and screens in selected function rooms. In keeping abreast of dynamic conferencing technology hotels have invested heavily in audio visual technology. In addition, they have refurbished conference halls and upgraded them into state-of-the-art conferencing facilities. The facilities are fully equipped and have modem comfortable seats, wall and split air conditioners for perfect cooling and conference speaker systems.

East African countries have a wide range of carefully selected hotels and safari lodges to match your taste, style and budget. The recommended hotels in the region are some of the finest in the world, known for their high standards of service and quality. Most of these hotels are international award winners and demonstrate innovative, eco-friendly designs. Bookings can be done throughout the region are coupled with ever-increasing volume of travellers has given us access to the most competitive rates, yielding savings which we pass on directly to our travellers: East Africa offers something new for conference planners and organisers. Many top class hotels, safari lodges, beach resorts, and even tented bush camps offer world-class facilities. They include halls and private meeting rooms, audio visual and multi-media services and telecommunications. The facilities combined with comfortable surroundings, good accommodation and fine cuisine, mean that professional and effective conferences can be held in the wild.

Many hotels host conferences, retreats, seminars and workshops according to a client’s specifications. The region offers experienced hosts and state-of-the-art conference facilities that cater to the highest level of international business, diplomatic and social gatherings. All of the conference and function rooms feature state-of-the- art audio-visual equipment for meetings, including the following: complimentary wired or wireless broadband Internet access; intelligent lighting system at the Island Ballroom; satellite and teleconferencing available upon request; simultaneous translation system available upon request; slide, overhead, LCD and direct projectors; strategically positioned motorised projectors and screens in selected function rooms.

 

Source: ATQ News, The East African

 

 

 

brazilSão Paulo, Brazil - Brazilian tourism officials say that the country has stepped up efforts to lure more foreign tourists as Brazil gears up to host 2014 World Cup.

Brazil is keen to make the most of its time in the global spotlight -- in 2016 Rio will host South America's first Olympics while the World Cup sees the event return to the land of samba for the first time since 1950. With Germany providing the most visitors from Europe -- around a five percent share - Embratur said it has also held some 180 roadshows at trade exhibitions there with a particular focus on eco-and adventure tourism.

Even so it added that some three fifths of the 5.7 million tourists who visited in 2012 came for "sun, sea and sand." Argentinians account for the largest share in total at around 30 percent with travellers from the United States second with an 11 percent share based on 2012 figures. The Brazilian Luxury Travel Association has focused on bolstering a US share largely comprising high-spending clients.

Away from the luxury sector, 109 new hotels, resorts and hostels are under construction across the 12 World Cup host cities, according to the tourism ministry. Brazil hopes to lift tourist numbers to ten million by 2020, taking the share of GDP the sector accounts for directly and indirectly from a current 8.6 percent past 10 percent.

The sector contributed almost $80 billion to GDP in 2011, according to official figures, as well as almost three million jobs. Even so, this country of more than 200 million people is racing against the clock to modernize its ageing airports and general transport as well as tourist accommodation infrastructure as the World Cup looms closer.

 

Source: canoe.ca, eturbo News

Those going through the Legion d'Honneur Square in the northern Seine-Saint-Denis suburb of Paris, will notice the presence of a globe-shaped monument in the middle of a flower bed, as Elise Vincent reports in this article for Le Monde

As they come closer, they will see that names, surnames and numbers have been etched onto colorful medallions. A plaque at the foot of the monument will tell them that these are the names of former slaves, along with their identification number. There are precisely 213 of them. Afr monnd if they read to the end, they will learn that these names are also the names of French West Indians, who added their ancestors – found through genealogy – to the list.

This new monument was inaugurated on May 23 by the Minister of Overseas France, Victorin Lurel. The same day, a similar sculpture was unveiled in Sarcelles, in another northern suburb of Paris – Val d’Oise. For the past 15 years, both Sarcelles and Saint-Denis, two cities where the French West Indian diaspora is most important, have been marking the “victims of slavery” on this very day.

These are not the first monuments France has erected to commemorate slavery. Former Presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy even inaugurated one together in 2007, in Paris’s famous Luxembourg Garden. But even though every little French village has a monument engraved with the names of those who died during World War I and World War II, there are few such monuments for former slaves.

The monuments in Saint-Denis and Sarcelles would certainly not have come to life, without the desire of Antilleans (French West Indians), who wanted to pay homage, in their own name, to the Africans that France reduced to slavery for more than two centuries. The memorials are also the fruit of a little Parisian organization – CM 98 – which struggles to keep alive the memory of slavery's victims -- and make France face this tragic past.

Overcoming the stigma

In most of the French West Indies, even today, lighter skins are considered more attractive than darker skins. Only an experienced eye can tell the difference between the different nuances of black by which many Antilleans define themselves: metis (“mixed-race”), quarteron (“one-quarter black”), chabin (“having two black parents but being light-skinned”)...

This sort of Stockholm syndrome influences family trees. While in France many look for ancestors within the French aristocracy, many in the French overseas territories look for “white” colonists in their family trees, rather than “black” slaves.

The goal of CM 98 is to help all Antilleans – and their descendants – who want to research their family tree. "After years of thinking about it, we came to the conclusion that the problems in our islands were often linked to skin colors," explains CM 98 vice-president Emmanuel Gordien. "We want them to overcome the stigma of slavery, the idea that slaves were dirty and depraved."

On the table of her living room in Aulnay-sous-Bois, in the suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, Chantal Charles-Fred unfolds her family tree. This 45-year-old woman from the French West Indies Island of Martinique has always been curious of her origins. In her home, everything recalls her native island – her trinkets, her two massive aquariums, a tapestry on the wall showing a beautiful beach.

For a long time she researched her family tree by herself. But when she discovered, thanks to CM 98, the person she points to with her finger, at the top of the maternal side of the tree, Charles-Fred says she was shocked to see the caption born in Africa. His name was Maximin Criart – identification number 128. Maximin was 30 when he was emancipated and given a surname.

Chantal doesn’t have any resentment. Like all those who worked with CM 98 to have their ancestors’ names etched into the monuments, she does not intend on filing for financial reparations from the French government.

"For me, it is just a way to affirm myself," she says, "knowing your origins makes you stronger."

CM 98's secret weapon is a unique database of 120,000 names that they were able to build after searching the archives of French overseas territories for seven years. They researched documents that are not known to the general public, but that historians know well: the registers where the surnames of emancipated slaves where written after the abolition of slavery in 1848.

These notebooks, which were inscribed by quill, are called the registries of the “newly freed” in Guadeloupe, and the registries of the “individualities” in Martinique. Before these registers were created, the slaves only had a first name and an identification number. When they were mentioned in official deeds, it was in the same way that cattle or hectares of land were mentioned.

The distribution of surnames were made by officials who were more or less inspired. In some villages they just inverted the syllables of the first names: Marie became "Rima.” Others had mythology on their mind and went with Dionysos (“Dionysus”) or Andromaque (“Andromache”). The unluckiest slaves were afflicted with “shameful names” such as Bracoupe ("Amputed-Arm"), Grospoil ("Big Hair"), Gros Desir ("Big Lust")...

For the sculptures to become a symbol, CM 98 activists made sure there would not only list the names of those who researched their family trees. For many Sundays in a row, they held office at the Saint-Denis and Sarcelles town halls so that anybody with family papers could come and discover the identity of their ancestors.

Tearful discoveries

To be sure that people came, they searched the directories of the two cities. They identified Antillean-sounding family names and wrote to them on the stationary of the Sarcelles and Saint-Denis town halls.

"We have decided to inaugurate a monument to honor the women and men who were victims of slavery (...). If you want the name of your ancestor – your name or your father or mother’s – to be added to the monument, CM 98 is waiting for you," said the letter.

Marie-Veronique Jeremy, 63, a retired nurse answered the call. "Tell me everything," said the volunteer who welcomed her, shaking with emotion and holding her family papers carefully wrapped in plastic.

Marie-Veronique gave her father's name. The computer found the identity of a certain Noel Jeremy, emancipated in 1849, at 47, in Guadeloupe. She started crying: "I am black, but I didn't think..."

Ariane Virginius-Porlon, a CM 98 volunteer, explains: "Even today, in France, we don't tell our children the truth. Every three years they spend their holidays in the islands. They think they will be living the good life, and when they find out their grandparents' house is a hut, they are shocked."

Laura Felip, 33, whose family is from Guadeloupe, had the name of her ancestors engraved on the document. "I was not brought up in the culture of shame," she says.

The window is open. The sun delicately sets. Felip explains that she is often asked for her “residence permit” when she has administrative papers to fill out, even though being from overseas territories makes her fully French. Quietly, she says that she would like those monuments to help people understand that "you can be black and French."

Read the article in the original language.

For the original report go to http://www.worldcrunch.com/culture-society/france-facing-demons-of-its-own-slavery-history/antilles-french-west-indies-guadeloupe-martinique-slavery/c3s12146/

 

 

alainAfrican Diaspora Tourism is in support of Alain St. Ange, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Republic of the Seychelles in his nomination for election as a member of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Executive Council. "St. Ange has done an outstanding job in the tourism field and has managed to brand Seychelles globally as a desirable destination," says African Diaspora Tourism publisher Kitty Pope.

"He is a strong believer in strategic regional marketing approaches as demonstrated by the successful Vanilla Island Cooperation of Indian Ocean Island. Having developed win-win marketing partnerships with African mainland and other destinations, St. Ange is very visionary and insightful as a leader. He would bring the same commitment and expertise in tourism to the UNWTO Executive Council," says Pope. "I am certain he will be able to help increase tourism arrivals to Africa in a few years the same way he has for Seychelles. I believe St. Ange has the capability of making Africa a premier global destination of the twenty-first century."

St. Ange is the creator of Carnaval Internationale de Victoria (The Carnival of Carnivals), where got participation from various countries around the globe. His idea for such a carnival was to bring different cultures together for celebration in Seychelles. He has also launched other successful, original marketing campaigns where he worked with global media outlets to raise the profile of Seychelles. Having worked as CEO of Seychelles Tourism and now as minister of Tourism and Culture for more than a year, St. Ange helped to reinvigorate and reinvent Seychelles Tourism.

A sought-after speaker and conference presenter, St. Ange has become a highly-regarded African tourism leader and has worked with other countries in helping to put together portfolios to increase tourism arrivals. Many global organizations leaders in Africa are supporting St. Ange's nomination to UNWTO. His philosophy of "friends of all, enemies of none" has gained him respect around Africa and beyond. African Diaspora Tourism believes that St. Ange will be a valuable asset if he is elected to the African seat on the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Executive Committee.

 

 

michelle obamaAmsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan has sent an invitation to the First Lady of the United States to come to Amsterdam and speech during the ceremony of the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, according to Het Parool.   

On July 1, 2013, it’s one hundred and fifty years ago that slavery in the Dutch colonies of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles was officially abolished. The commemoration in the Amsterdam  is part of dozens of large and small activities that highlight the history of slavery and its implications.

Besides Obama more important guests from abroad are expected. Among the  invited guest are African-American writers Alice Walker and Toni Morrison and the former Black Panther Angela Davis.

During the commemoration members of the Dutch government and the royal family will be present, as well  as the governments of the Dutch Caribbean islands. The Surinamese government is not invited, because of the decision of the city of Amsterdam not to maintain contacts with the Surinamese government. The controversial President of Suriname, Desi Bouterse, is not welcome in The Netherlands.

 

Source: Afro-Europe

haiti_and_dominicaJust recently Haitians and Dominicans gatherd to remember and learn about a dark part of their history where thousands of Haitians were slaughtered and dumped in a river by a Dominican Republic president according to an article by Exra Fieser in the Miami Herald:

Seventy-five years ago, this border town, separated from Haiti by the ominously named Massacre River, was the center of a killing field.

On orders from dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, thousands of Haitians – many born in the Dominican Republic -- living in the area were rounded up and killed; hacked to death with machetes and stabbed with bayonets.

What became known as the Parsley Massacre — or simply el corte (the cutting) — forever altered Haitian-Dominican relations, which remain tense today. Despite its significance, the massacre became little more than a historical footnote.

Standing on the banks of the Massacre River, looking across its shallow waters to Haiti on Thursday night, hundreds of Dominicans, led by activists and scholars, sought to reclaim the forgotten tragedy.

“Generally, it’s not something that we talk a lot about on our side of the border. I think there are so many challenges in Haiti right now as well as in the recent past that sometimes it is difficult for people to look back and ponder long ago horrors,” said Haitian-American author and Miami resident Edwidge Danticat, whose 1998 fictional novel The Farming of Bones is based on the massacre.

“This all started,” Danticat said of this week’s commemoration, “with people from inside and outside the island, people who’ve had an opportunity to get to know each other well enough to acknowledge our common humanity and say that we must, in some way, pause to remember this moment, wherever we are, however, we can.”

The initiative to remember the horrors that occurred here, organized by members of the Dominican diaspora living in the United States, began Thursday with a Catholic Mass and a candlelight vigil in which participants walked to the river’s edge.

Organizers cleaned up a park in the Haitian border town of Ouanamintheand planted trees on Friday. They plan to hold a roundtable community discussion about the massacre on Saturday.

“This was a crime against humanity. And it’s important that people know its significance,” said Edward Paulino, assistant professor of history at the City University of New York (CUNY) and an organizer of the event, dubbed Border of Lights.

Historians have estimated that anywhere between 9,000 and 30,000 civilians were killed over five days in early October in 1937. It remains unclear why exactly Trujillo ordered the killings, although some theories suggest it was part of an effort to whiten the Dominican race.

It was called the Parsley Massacre because in some cases soldiers held a sprig of parsley and asked the victims to pronounce it in Spanish ( perejil). Creole-speaking Haitians could be identified by their difficultly pronouncing the “R” in the word. They were killed if they could not say it correctly.

In a diplomatic cable to President Franklin Roosevelt, the U.S. ambassador to the country called it “a systematic campaign of extermination … directed against all Haitian residents” by Trujillo. Many Dominicans, however, know little about the event. On Thursday, event organizers asked residents to jot down their understanding of the massacre on post cards.

Some said the massacre was sparked by an invasion from Haiti. Others were dismissive of commemorating it. “I don’t understand why they are doing this now,” said Juan José Bautista of the event. “It’s so long ago. Why does it matter to them?”

In the years before the massacre took place, Dajabón was a sleepy outpost, isolated from the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo. In oral histories collected by researchers, Haitians and Dominicans recall a fluid border they often crossed freely and the many families and friendships formed between them.

Today, Dajabón, a city of 25,245, within a province of the same name, hums with the constant buzz of motorcycles and scooters. Border crossing are heavily guarded by the Dominican army, though it remains a magnet for child traffickers and smugglers. Officials closed the border several times after the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti, sparking protests.

Still, twice a week, the city becomes a major trading hub as the border opens and a cross-border informal market forms with everything from used shoes to housewares spilling into the streets. The market, which generates more than $1 million weekly in trade according to a 2007 study by Solidaridad Fronteriza, a local non-governmental organization, underscores the economic connection that still thrives here.

Cynthia Carrion, a New York-born Dominican and a principal organizer, said some have criticized her for marking something that they said was of little relevance today. “The reason we’re doing this is not to open old wounds, but to say that the same tensions and ignorance that brought about the massacre are still here today,” Carrion said. “The wounds haven’t had a chance to heal because it’s been forgotten.”

The event, however, is seen as a turning point in the Dominican government’s treatment of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent. Haitians are routinely rounded up and deported, despite providing the backbone of labor on sugarcane fields and at construction sites. And human rights groups say the government is stripping Haitian descendants who were born on Dominican soil of their citizenship, leaving a growing population of people that are effectively stateless.

Author Julia Alvarez, whose family fled the Trujillo dictatorship for the U.S. when she was a child, said the massacre stoked an anti-Haitian sentiment that remains a powerful force in Dominican society. “The mentality that allowed the massacre to happen was there. Trujillo was tapping into something in the culture. He put gasoline on the fire,” said Alvarez, who has been part of the effort to organize the event. “It’s institutionalized now.”

Organizers hope the event will bring attention to the work of human rights groups in the Dominican Republic, many of which are working with Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent. Father Regino Martinez, a Jesuit priest working on human rights cases in Dajabón, said the event would “break the silence” of the last 75 years.

He spoke as hundreds filed out of the Catholic church, lit candles and plodded toward the river a few blocks away. Minutes after they arrived, the glow of candles appeared on the Haitian side of the river. A smaller group there commemorated the event with music and dancing before walking to the river, where they placed dozens of floating candles in the water.

On the Dominican side, a tearful Paulino watched from behind a fence that marks the border. “Seventy-five years ago, people were throwing themselves in this river trying to escape the machete,” he said. “And today, the people … they’ve come to bear witness.”

For the original report go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/05/v-fullstory/3036569/haitians-and-dominicans-remember.html#storylink=cpy

air_jamaica_doctor_birdAccording to CM Weekly National News, Air Jamaica is gone for good. Read article to find out why:

The familiar orange and blue doctor bird logo of Air Jamaica will soon be nothing more than a memory, following parent company Caribbean Airlines' instructions to remove the logo from its aircrafts. The new regulation would effectively wipe out the last visible signs of the airline brand, which is still listed as Jamaica's national carrier.

According to Caribbean Airlines, the company decided to strip the logo from its fleet to comply with its operator certificate from Trinidad and Tobago's Civil Aviation Authority (TTCAA), which reportedly bans the use of two brand names under one license. To keep the memorable doctor bird, Caribbean Airlines would have to register Air Jamaica as a new and separate airline.

The new policy would affect the six Air Jamaica planes remaining in the fleet at a reported cost of US$60,000 per aircraft.

Trinidad and Tobago's Minister of Trade, Industry and Development Vasant Bharath will reportedly meet with trade officials in Jamaica to discuss the issue. The decision places Caribbean Airlines at odds with their original agreement with the Jamaican government. Under that agreement, Caribbean Airlines is required to pay the Government of Jamaica an annual fee for the right to use the Air Jamaica name.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago however hold majority shares in the Caribbean Airlines brand, which bought Air Jamaica's routes in 2010.

In response to the announcement however, Director-General of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Darby stated that he was not aware of any such regulation which would prevent Caribbean Airlines from using the Air Jamaica brand under its current license. Darby pointed out that it was a common practice in the airline industry to have one company operating two brands. He also confirmed plans to contact the TTCAA to debate their decision.

For full article, see http://www.cnweeklynews.com/news/caribbean-news/3973-air-jamaica-gone-for-good

August 17, 2012 marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. Geoffrey Philp recently announced that the Rootz Foundation Inc. will mark this milestone anniversary with a presentation by celebrated historian and Garvey disciple Dr. Runoko Rashidi. Dr. Rashidi is an Ambassador for the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), the organization Garvey’s founded. The 2012 Rootz Extravaganza will take place on Friday, August 17, 2012 (“Marcus Garvey Appreciation Day”), at the Joseph C. Carter Park, located at 1450 West Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. marcus_garvey_1924-08-05

Activities will include audio-visual screenings, photographic displays, live music by guest artists, and African Dancers. Patrons will be able to sign a petition to President Obama requesting the exoneration of Marcus Garvey.

As Philps writes, “Dr. Rashidi is a public lecturer, research specialist, writer and world traveler who concentrates on the African foundations of world civilizations. His specialty is the African presence in Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands, and he has coordinated numerous historic educational group tours to locations all over the world.” Dr. Rashidi is the author of Introduction to the Study of African Classical Civilizations and co-editor (with Dr. Ivan Van Sertima) of The African Presence in Early Asia.

Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jamaica’s first national hero, was born in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica on August 17, 1887. The publisher, orator, journalist and businessman was a black nationalist and Pan African who built the largest mass movement of black people – the United Negro Improvement Association — in history. He called for black unity globally and an end to colonialism. Garvey was jailed in 1925 after being convicted of mail fraud (related to the sale of stock in the Black Star Line), but his sentence was reduced and he was deported to Jamaica two years later. Garvey eventually moved to London, England, where he died in 1940.

For more information, see http://repeatingislands.com/2011/08/19/geoffrey-philp-a-conversation-about-marcus-garvey/

For full post, see http://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/2012/07/2012-marcus-garvey-rootz-extravaganza.html#!/2012/07/2012-marcus-garvey-rootz-extravaganza.html

cuba_hammel_dance204The U.S. Treasury Department placed certain restrictions on trips to Cuba by non-Cuban Americans on so-called “people to people” visits, saying that the revisions will “help to deter abuses.” Although the article uses the word “abuses” about five times, it never explains what the abuses are. The closest it comes to giving an example of “abuses” by U.S. citizens who travel for personal reasons was a reference quoting Marco Rubio who complained about someone who had scheduled salsa lessons every night. Oh dear, I can just see this among the new travel restrictions, “Dancing prohibited.” And this is progress? Scary.

Complaints of abuses of such trips — they must be for “educational” purposes, never for tourism — have dogged the program since President Barack Obama approved it last year in a bid to increase Americans’ engagement with regular Cubans.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., drew laughter during a speech in Washington last year when he read the schedule for one such trip, showing salsa dancing sessions every night. Other tours have met with Cuban government ministers and even a daughter of ruler Raúl Castro.

Rubio put a block on Roberta Jacobson’s nomination as the top U.S. diplomat for Latin American until the Obama administration addressed some of the myriad complaints. Jacobson was sworn in earlier this month. “I think it’s progress … because the changes require closer reviews of the itineraries,” Rubio said. “But I still have concerns about the program in general, because it is difficult to manage and avoid abuses.”

Treasury spokesman John Sullivan said the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Controls, which enforces sanctions on Cuba, revised the regulations for those seeking OFAC licenses to organize trips “in part because of reports we received.” He did not detail the “reports” but added that the changes “will provide clarity to applicants and licensees seeking renewals, facilitate OFAC’s review of license applications and help to deter abuses by licensees.”

Source: Repeating Islands

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