It was yet another exciting time on the 5th edition of the Wonders of Africa Webinar held on Friday 27th November as panelists from Ghana, Zambia, as well as the African Diaspora in Belize and Brazil took the audience on an educative and intriguing adventure.
One of the panelists Fabien Anthony, Chairman of the Pan-African Council, a body that fosters cooperation between Africa and the Diaspora, while delivering his presentation from Bahia, Brazil, took the audience straight to Haiti, the first independent Black country. Sugarcane profits had made Haiti the richest country in the Americas.
On the north coast of Haiti lies Cap-Haïtien, the ancient colonial capital of Saint-Domingue, historically nicknamed the Paris of the Antilles, because of its wealth and sophistication, expressed through its architecture and artistic life. After the Haitian Revolution, the kingdom was split into two and Cap-Haïtien became the capital of the Kingdom of Northern Haiti under King Henry Christophe until 1820. Atop a nearby mountain, 5 miles (8.0 km) away from Cap‑Haïtien is the Citadelle Henry, a massive stone fortress bristling with cannons.
According to Fabien, Polish slaves fought alongside the blacks to drive out the French for the independence of Haiti. He also, took time to dispel the rumours about a pact with the devil made by Haitians during the Independence struggle, as claimed by some to be cause of the natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes that have affected the island.
From Haiti, Fabien took the audience to Colombia, a country with 25% population of African descent mostly along it west coast. Interestingly, Haiti supplied soldiers, arms, etc. to Simon Bolivar during the liberation of Colombia from Spain. Historians claim that of every five soldiers in Simon Bolivar’s army, three were African.
The large population of Afro-Colombianos are mostly in department of Chocó in the Pacific/Chocó natural region, one of the five major natural regions of Colombia. Close to the Amazon, the region is beautiful and pristine, with lots of exotic fruits and big fish like tilapia, which evokes memories of Africa. There are beautiful lakes and the environment is ideal for eco-tourism with lots of untapped places.
Another attraction is the Rock of Guatape (El Peñón de Guatapé), or simply La Piedra or El Peñol. The landmark is an inselberg located in the town and municipality of Guatapé, Antioquia. The monolith has ladders and takes about an hour to climb. Besides all these, Afro-Colombianos also have very exciting cultural festivities, like the Carnival of St. Patrick celebrated in September.
Next, Fabien Anthony took the audience down to the city of Salvador, capital of the State of Bahia, in the Northeast Region of Brazil. Salvador was one of the first ports for enslaved Africans in the Americas and the African influence of the slaves’ descendants makes it a center of Afro-Brazilian (negro) culture.
Nicknamed ‘Black Rome,’ Salvador is known for its Portuguese colonial architecture, Afro-Brazilian culture and a tropical coastline with lovely islands and beautiful beaches. Its Porto da Barra Beach in Barra has been named one of the best beaches in the world. Salvador is also noted for its cuisine, music and dance. Its carnival celebration has been reckoned as the largest party in the world, while several delicacies take their origins from Africa, like akaraje, which corresponds to the akara made by the Yoruba in Nigeria.
There are also elements of deities and practices from the Yoruba religious worldview with Ifa, Yemoja and the orishas. Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial arts developed by enslaved Africans at the beginning of the 16th century to fight the slave masters traces its roots to Salvador. The practice of capoeira continues today as a means of self-defense and martial arts.
To cap off his presentation, Anthony brought the audience back to Rwanda in East Africa. Speaking about the capital Kigali, he pointed out that it has been rated the 5th cleanest city in the world. He also highlighted the beautiful Lake Muhazi in the Eastern Region of the country, about a hour and a half from Kigali.
Fabien Anthony is an accomplished tech entrepreneur and current Chairman of the Pan-African Council, a global leadership and strategic development organization dedicated to the advancement of Africa and its Diaspora. He has been recognized as one of the Global Top 100 Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) Under 40 and one of the winners of ATQ News Magazine’s African Travel Top 100 Global Tourism Personalities award.