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The International Negritude Conference in Cartagena, Columbia (2014)

In celebration of the Negritude

Cartagena, Colombia hosted the Negritude Conference, international, this year on March 11-14. The conference was set at the University of Cartagena. Adding to atmosphere, the tropical environment was endearing to the study of the African experience in South America. Reminders of the African slave influence abounded in the hotels, restaurants, and museums of the city.

Over the course of four days, presenters and attendees were graced by lectures and readings from scholars from around the globe. Nelson Gonzalez Ortega (Universitetet i Oslo), George Nana (Indiana Wesleyan University), Ashaolu Olubunmi (Obafemi Awolowo University, IIe-Ife), Alfredo Portillo (Universidad de los Andes), Ivan Acero Moreno (Universidad de la Sabana), and Fernando Conceicao (Universidade da Bahia) were some of the many presenters. The topics spanned from Afro-Mexico culture, Territotio y Racismo, Narrative y negritude, Mujeres afrolatinoamericanas…..to additional areas of research and study. Participation extended from the lecture halls onto the cafes surrounding the university long after the sessions ended. This was one of the most exciting aspects of the conference for me.

Personally, I was smitten with the artwork around the city. Sculpture, paintings, and the local crafts were exciting to see and adore. I lingered looking at the monuments and buildings so often that I was late to many of the sessions. My limited Spanish proved to be no obstacle to communication. Most local people knew some English. And the locals were very gracious and assisted in every way possible.

Cartagena is a wonderful city with so many facets and sights to see and explore through organized sightseeing trips or independent treks. The academic aspects of the city are compelling and prompt one to express pride in the rich, mutual heritage of the Spanish and African founders of the Cartagena (and all of Colombia).
The next Negritude Conference, international, will be in Havana, Cuba, in 2016. I strongly suggest that all academics consider participating. More information may be available at: negritudcaribe@yahoo.com