imeline of Events from AfroCubaWeb.com First slaves arrive in Cuba; more follow in _______.
Royal decree establishes the right for a slave to _____________ his/her freedom.
None of the 18 sugar mills around Havana have more than 26 slaves.
British seize control of Havana during ____________________________and allow trafficking of 10,000 slaves into Cuba.
Spain opens the slave trade to Havana.
First _____________founded to help unite Africans based on national and religious identities.
Legal slave trade into Cuba abolished, but another 60,000 slaves arrive over the next ten years due to illegal trading.
Cuban Independence movements begin with some help from Mexico and Venezuela, but the United States still has slavery at this time and fears that slavery would end in Cuba if it gained independence, so it threatened to block any effort to liberate Cuba.
Spanish government says that any slave that can prove he/she had been illegally imported can be free.
Census data now says there are _______________ slaves in Cuba.
Slavery is abolished in British colonies (remember – not the United States!)
White Cubans begin practice of segregation in public places in an effort to make themselves look more powerful.
40,000 Afro-Cubans fight against Spain in the Ten Years War. They do not succeed in winning independence.
The colonial (Spanish) government passed the __________________ Law to free slaves over 60, those born after 1868, and those who fight on the side of Spain.
Last slave ship arrives in Cuba.
Slavery abolished on _____________________.
Equal civil status is proclaimed for Blacks and Whites.
Cuba gains independence from Spain, but is now heavily influenced by the wishes of
In 1860, there were just over 370,000 slaves in Cuba – 218,000 were males and 152,000 were females. Over eighty percent were working on the ingenios (sugar plantations). Virtually all of these people were African, or of African descent, originating from regions along the West coast of that continent. Most maintained their national identities throughout the period of slavery, and beyond. The four major groups found in Afro-Cuban slave society were:
Lucumi – These people were of Yoruba origin from Southwestern Nigeria. An estimated 275,000 were brought to Cuba, mostly in the period 1820-60, corresponding with the fall of the Oyo empire. They are the originators of the Santería religion.
Arará – Of Fon, Ewe, Popo, and Makhi origin, these people came from Dahomey and surrounding areas. The majority, of the approximately 200,000 that arrived, came in the late 1700’s, after defeats by the Yoruba.
Carabalí (also Abakuá) – These people came from Southeastern Nigeria, and were primarily of Igbo and Ijaw origin. They came to Cuba primarily in the late 1700’s, and early 1800’s, and it is estimated that 240,000 arrived.
Kongo –This was the largest ethnic group brought to Cuba, with around 400,000 people imported. They were from various Bantu cultures centered in the region of Angola. They came throughout the entire period of the slave trade to the island.
Another 185,000 people are estimated to have been brought from other regions of Africa. Among these were the Mandinga and Malikes of Sierra Leone, the Minas from the Gold Coast region, and the Macuás of Mozambique.
Free Afro-Cubans were allowed to form Cabildos, or mutual aid societies, and these were generally organized according to ethnic origin. These groups served not only as social centers, but also as outlets to express the various cultural traditions that had flowed into the island. They allowed the African way of life many had known before slavery to continue, and shape the religious, artistic and social institutions that define “Cuban” culture today.
The end of legal slavery, however, did not bring racial harmony to Cuba, and Spanish "thinkers" continued to warn against the potential "evils" of a racially mixed society.
At the time of emancipation, most slaves were employed on plantations, and most free black Cubans were women who lived in the cities. Cuban society didn't exactly welcome the free slaves with open arms. For example:
* In 1887, only 11% of Afro-Cubans of all ages could read and write (compared with 33% of whites).
* Spanish officials regularly removed the Don and Doña titles from official documents and identity cards issued to Afro-Cubans. In 1893 these titles were returned, according to an article in La Igualdad on December 16, 1893.
* Afro-Cubans were excluded from seats in theatres (except in the gallery), and many hotels and restaurants refused them service.
* The Union of railroad drivers banned Afro-Cubans from the profession altogether, and many job ads specified a race requirement.
* Official government and cultural influence promoted the racial fears that existed in white society to lock out blacks from society.
After 1898, according to Aline Helg in Our Rightful Share, "Only a few outstanding Afro-Cubans who distinguished themselves by very exceptional military abilities or Western educational standards had access to white privileged circles."
"Cuba's blacks were not themselves a homogenous group," wrote Richard Cott in Cuba: A New History. "They came from many tribes and nations along the length of the West African coastline, from Senegal in the north to Angola in the south - and even from Mozambique on Africa's south-east coast. They brought with them different languages, different beliefs, different customs, and different music, and through much of the nineteenth century they preserved these differences in the new Cuban home to which they had been transported."
A law passed in 1880 stated that every community of more than 500 had to establish one school for boys and one for girls, and that racial divisions would be suppressed. It was expected that the different municipalities would pay for elementary education themselves, as Madrid only financed the University of Havana. Between 1883 and 1895, the number of schools on the island rose from 535 to 904.
In spite of apparent official insistence, many schools refused to accept black children, and some municipalities began to run separate schools for blacks. Others simply refused to enroll blacks, or imposed a special fee that most could not pay.
As black children began to attend municipal schools, private schools for richer white families began to appear. According to an article in the Gaceta de La Habana on May 1 1889, their number tripled within a decade.
In 1883, black citizens living in Havana, led by Francisco Bonet and Antonio Rojas appealed to Governor General Emilio Calleja to finally allow Afro-Cuban children to attend municipal-run schools all over the island. General Calleja answered that to discriminate by race in such a manner was anti-Christian and prevented the full integration of Cuban society.
Historian Aline Helg in Our Rightful Share: The Afro-Cuban Struggle for Equality, 1886-1912 (Pg. 28);
"Obviously, the 500,000 men, women, and children of African descent living in Cuba in the early 1890s were far from a homogeneous group. Although all of them probably shared the experience of some kind of white racism, broad cultural, educational, class, sexual, and regional differences divided them. Generally, those who had been brought over from Africa and the offspring of those Africans distinguished themselves from Afro-Cubans from families of generations of Cuban residence; also, those who had experienced slavery traveled a different path from those who had always been free or those with long-standing free lineage. In addition, no common Afro-Cuban culture or subculture united them against the dominant Spanish-Cuban culture. Rather, African and Spanish traditions blended to produce a continuum of subcultures that can only be crudely sketched.
In 1887, the Directorio Central de las Sociedades de la Raza de Color was founded to represent "in the strictest legality" the interests of people of color and to coordinate the actions of the various "color societies" throughout the island in order to preset a unified stand against racism. By July 1892, the Directorio consisted of 65 societies throughout Cuba. The official newspaper of the Directorio Central was La Igualdad.