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South America

Culture in Esmeraldas

Bernard Asper
Marronage—the flight of enslaved men and women was a common occurrence in the Americas and Caribbean from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. Originally believed to be of Spanish origin (cimarrón; French marron), the term "maroon" is now thought to derive from a Hispaniola Taino root meaning "fugitive," which combined with the Spanish cimá (mountaintop). The term was originally applied to livestock in the Hispaniola hills and to fugitive Amerindian slaves.
Known variously as quilombos (Jaga ki-lombo, "war camp"), mocambos (Mbundu mu-kambo, "hideout"), and palenques (palisades or stockades), Maroon settlements developed from the southern United States to South America.
Until a few decades ago, the area around Esmeraldas Ecuador was accessible only by sea. The only inhabitants for centuries were native people of the Tumaco and La Tolita cultures that spread over the modern borders of Colombia and northern Ecuador.
Maroons developed a variety of military, social, and political relations with Amerindians as allies, domestic slaves, spouses, and advisers of chiefs. When slaves were being brought to the New World to work the growing sugar plantations, the mines, and other jobs, some of them escaped shipwrecks and swam ashore on the Esmeraldas coast. They overcame, first by violence, then by reproducing, the local cultures, and created in northern Ecuador the Republic of Esmeraldas which became a haven for escaping slaves from other Ecuadorian provinces.
Esmeraldas took its name from Spanish colonizers, who hoped to find a rich source of emeralds, but also for the lush tropical vegetation of the area. Runaway slaves from Brazil and surrounding settlements and plantations joined with the communities and together these groups held off the Spanish colonial powers for many years. The intense mixing and merging of cultures from different sides of the globe is evident in the music of the region today.
The base of the music is made up of rhythmic drumming and the warm and distinctive marimba, a wooden xylophone, accompanied by singers and a traditional dance. In Esmeraldas and the Pacific Coast of Colombia a branch of the genre, marimba salsera, has more contemporary influences of the salsa culture popular in most parts of Ecuador and throughout Latin America. The esmeraldeños celebrate this cultural and musical legacy in various festivals and performances such as the Festival Internacional de Danza y Musica Afro, and music accompanies and is part of different religious practices.
Forms of entertainment mainly got influenced by West Africa. The main thing that they used for their daily entertainment were dancing and music. Dancing and music were very traditional, but music has changed to story-telling. The most popular dance in Esmeralda is called the Currulao otherwise known as the Marimba dance, this dance was played to a specific song. A marimba is an instrument that was made out of wood and was played using metal mallets.
The inhabitants wore informal and formal clothing. Informal clothing included hats. ponchos, and shirts that had very specific details. In some villages in Esmeralda, females would wear very vibrant colored skirts. They wear sombreros even when they aren't farming. Normally sombreros were used during agriculture. Their traditional clothing you can see being worn for their shows consisting of dancing and music. When women dance, they normally wear those big full skirts with embroidery and vibrant colors.
Isolated for so many years, the black and indigenous cultures interwove and created a culture that remains vibrant today. With the coming of roads, the development of the port, and the establishment of Esmeraldas as the site of Ecuador's largest oil refinery for the Trans-Ecuador pipeline bringing oil from the Amazon, the city of Esmeraldas has become a large commercial and tourism center. At the same time, ecologically concerned citizens have created wildlife reserves and mangrove conservation groups.
Adapted from:
www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/maroons-cimarrones
https://www.tripsavvy.com/esmeraldas-ecuador-guide-1635482
http://esmeraldaequador-sustainability-city.weebly.com/culture.html
https://soundsandcolours.com/articles/ecuador/esmeraldas-and-its-afro-ecuadorian-cultural-legacy-28309/

Votes1 DateNov 15, 2020

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Australia

Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Bernard Asper
Warul Kawa (Deliverance Island), Torres Strait Islands, Queensland, Australia.
There are an estimated 274 small islands in Torres Strait, which separates Australia's Cape York Peninsula from Papua New Guinea.
The islands and their waters and reefs are home to many rare and unique species.
Torres Strait is named after a Spanish captain, Torres, who sailed through the strait in 1606 on his way to the Philippines. In the first half of the 19th century, trader ships regularly sailed up Australia's east coast and through the Torres Strait on their way to ports in India and Asia.
In the 1850s western traders discovered the seas close to the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Straight were rich in the much-sought after sea animal bêche-de-mer (Sea cucumber).
By the 1870s, there was a rush on pearls in the waters around the islands and before long the Colonial Secretary in Britain decided to annex the profitable territory to the then colony of Queensland.
In the Torres Strait, families travel from island to island by small boats
The Torres Strait Islander peoples are of Melanesian descent, as are the people of Papua New Guinea, with whom they share similar cultural traits and customs. These islands can be divided into five cultural groups, which are represented by the white five-pointed star on the Torres Strait Islander flag: the Eastern (Meriam), Top Western (Guda Maluilgal), Near Western (Maluilgal), Central (Kulkalgal), and Inner Islands (Kaiwalagal). The flag's green, black, and blue stripes represent land, people and sea.
Designed by the late Bernard Namok of Thursday Island, the flag symbolizes the unity and identity of Torres Strait Islanders.
Like the Aboriginal flag, the Torres Strait Islands flag is recognized as an official "Flag of Australia" under the Flags Act 1953.
The Torres Strait Islander peoples speak two distinct languages. The traditional language spoken in the Eastern Islands is Meriam Mir, and in the Western, Central, and Inner Islands the language spoken is Kala Lagaw Ya or Kala Kawa Ya, which are dialects of the same language. Since European colonization of Australia, the Torres Strait Creole (Kriol) language has developed as a mixture of Standard Australian English and traditional languages. The Torres Strait Islander peoples use Creole to communicate with each other and with non-islanders.
The spirituality and customs of the Torres Strait Islander peoples reflect their dependence on the natural world of their home islands and the surrounding waterways. Torres Strait Islander culture and spirituality are closely linked to the stars and the stories of Tagai, a great fisherman and spirit being who created the world in their traditional religion before Christianity was introduced to the islands by missionaries, created the world. Tagai is represented by a constellation of stars in the southern sky. Torres Strait Islander law, customs, and practices are shaped by the Tagai stories. The Torres Strait Islander peoples’ deep knowledge of the stars and sea provide them with valuable information regarding changes in the seasons, when to plant gardens and hunt for turtles or the manatee-like dugong, and how to circumnavigate the seas.
Article for the most part taken and edited from:
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Torres-Strait-Islander-people
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-34037235

Votes1 DateOct 13, 2020

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North America

Oneg Shemesh

Oneg Shemesh
Oneg Shemesh Band ~ Indie Folk/Rock Music
Bio
Oneg Shemesh's music represents a fresh and innovative new sound in Jewish music. His engaging and interactive style is sure to invigorate your soul and your feet!
Oneg Shemesh, whose first name means “utmost joy”, is an Israeli-born guitarist and singer known for positive, well-crafted songs, and genre-blending, innovative work that blends the spiritual aspects of the Modern Orthodox culture in which he was raised with a folk rock sensibility.
Whether singing about “shining the light forward” or one’s personal responsibilities in “Only I”, Oneg Shemesh’s music is at times evocative, inspirational, and powerful while always remaining upbeat.
Oneg was raised in Israel on Moshav Modi’im near Tel Aviv. After completing his army service, he joined The Moshav Band as a founding member, an Israeli American-Jewish folk rock band, they combine Jewish music with elements of alternative rock, folk, and reggae. Shemesh toured with them throughout Israel, the United States and Canada.
When he is not creating and performing music, he likes to spend time with his 3 beautiful children, hike, rollerblade, bike & workout at the gym. He currently resides in West Hempstead, NY.
I'm so grateful to my amazing fans! With your help the song & music video called SOME DAYS in memory of my Mom O.B.M. has been completed & released! Check it out below!
Check out his live shows
This song is dedicated to my Mom A”H ברכה בת חונה יואל הכהן וזלטא
I had the privilege of writing this song & performing it for my Mom before she passed on FEB 5, 2017.
Here is the clip she took on her phone & this is what she wrote about the experience.
This is a beautiful song that my son Oneg Shemesh wrote with me in mind. He really nailed it perfectly. He totally captured in the simple lyrics, exactly how I’m feeling these days. Every time I hear him singing this, I am moved to tears and at the same time filled with joy!
Please share this song with anyone you know who is fighting cancer or who needs to hear this message of HOPE!
To buy the song go to https://onegshemesh.com/track/1542488/some-days
Listen
Oneg Shemesh Programs


Check out my merchandise page! With your support we are able to continue releasing music & spreading the joy!!


Check out my store !
Every purchase you make helps me to raise the funds to cover the costs of marking & promoting my music.
BE MY PARTNER!
LET'S GET THE MUSIC OUT TO THE WORLD!
Contact


Votes1 DateSep 5, 2018

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Asia

Iranian Zoroastrians

Bernard Asper

The history of Zoroastrianism began with the Prophet Zarathushtra teaching what was called “the Good Religion,” to ancient Persia and Central Asia. His teachings taught obedience to one god; while he drew a small group of dedicated men and women, he also met with great resistance from local priests and princes. According to legend, Zarathushtra was invited to present his teachings before King Vishtasp, who became one of the first of many rulers in Central Asia to embrace this new and revolutionary faith. The religion continued to evolve into its present form from the belief in a supreme god representing what became the state religion of the Persians. Its present monotheistic and at least what some would call dualistic varieties all involve worship of one god, the good one who will triumph over the evil forces. This represents the dualism in all forms of the faith that goes back to its founder Zarathushtra.
Zoroastrianism gradually gained wider acceptance, becoming the religion of the Achaemenian Empire (550–330 BCE) founded by Cyrus the Great. The Achaemenians established the first “universal empire” across linguistic and cultural frontiers, practicing religious and ethnic tolerance for their subjects. The Achaemenians were defeated by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE, and the city of Persepolis, along with its library of religious texts, was destroyed by fire. After nearly a century of Greek rule under the Seleucids, the Parthians (256 BCE–226 CE) came to power and ruled in ancient Iran for many centuries. The Sassanian Empire (226–652 CE) succeeded that of the Parthians and during the next four hundred years, the Sassanian kings established Zoroastrianism as the state religion of Iran. This was the “golden age” of Zoroastrianism, with as many as thirty million people practicing the faith. The liturgy of the Avesta was collected into a cohesive unit, and new literature in the Pahlavi language flourished.
In 652 CE, the Sassanian Empire was defeated by Arab Muslims. The majority of Zoroastrians accepted Islam. Those who did not and were not fleeing the country fled to other areas within Iran. The Zoroastrian refugees developed their own language, Zoroastrian Dari, as well as a separate culture.
The Zoroastrians faced considerable adversity and religious persecution, which varied under different dynasties. Under the Umayyad dynasty, personal rights could be obtained with the payment of jizya, a special tax for non-Muslims, while during the Qajar dynasty, repression of the Zoroastrian religion took on cruel and violent forms. The life of Zoroastrians in Iran was often characterized by humiliation—with rules preventing them from riding on horseback, building places of worship, receiving an inheritance, or even from carrying umbrellas or wearing eyeglasses. With greater freedoms in the 20th century, Zoroastrians were able to establish themselves in business, industry, the educational field, and philanthropy. Many of today's Iranians are Zoroastrians who pretend to be Muslims.
Taken and edited from:
http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/zoroastrians-in-iran-06
http://pluralism.org/religions/zoroastrianism/the-zoroastrian-tradition/zoroastrians-in-india-and-iran/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/zoroastrian/beliefs/god.shtml
http://www.zoroastrian.org/other/faq.htm
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/19959

Votes1 DateJul 25, 2018

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Europe

Gypsies

Bernard Asper

The Roma are an ethnic people who have migrated across Europe for a thousand years. The Roma culture has a rich oral tradition, with an emphasis on family. Often portrayed as exotic and strange, the Roma have faced discrimination and persecution for centuries.
Today, they are one of the largest ethnic minorities in Europe — about 12 million to 15 million people, according to UNICEF, with 70 percent of them living in Eastern Europe. About a million Roma live in the United States, according to Time.
Roma is the word that many Roma use to describe themselves. They are also known as Rom or Romany.
The Roma are also sometimes called Gypsies. However, some people consider that a derogatory term, a holdover from when it was thought these people came from Egypt. It is now thought that the Roma people migrated to Europe from India about 1,500 years ago.
They originated in northern India and by the second half of the 20th century they had spread to every inhabited continent.
Because of their migratory nature, their absence in official census returns, and their popular classification with other nomadic groups, estimates of the total world Roma population range from two million to five million. No significant statistical picture can be gained from the sporadic reporting in different countries. Most Roma were still in Europe in the early 21st century, especially in the Slavic-speaking lands of central Europe and the Balkans. Large numbers live in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, the Czech and Slovak republics, and Hungary.
All nomadic Roma migrate at least seasonally along patterned routes that ignore national boundaries. They also follow along a chain, as it were, of kin or tribal links. The Roma’s own supposed disposition to wander has been forcibly furthered by exile or deportation. Only 80 years after their first appearance in western Europe in the 15th century, they fell under the penalty of banishment in almost all the nations of western Europe. Despite their systematic exile, or transportation abroad, however, they continued to reappear in one guise or another back in the countries they had left.
All unsettled confederations who live among settled peoples seem to become convenient scapegoats. So it is with the Roma, who have regularly been accused by the local populace of many evils as a prelude to later official and legal persecution. Their relations with the authorities in the host country have been marked by consistent contradiction. Official decrees were often aimed at settling or assimilating them, yet local authorities systematically refused them the bare hospitality of a campsite. During the Holocaust the Nazis murdered an estimated 400,000 Roma. French laws in modern times forbade them campsites and subjected them to police supervision, yet they were taxed and drafted for military service like ordinary citizens. Spain and Wales are two countries often cited as examples where Roma have become settled, if not wholly assimilated. In modern times the socialist countries of eastern Europe attempted programs of enforced settlement to end Roma migration.
Traditionally the Roma have pursued occupations that allowed them to maintain an itinerant life on the perimeters of settled society. The men were livestock traders, animal trainers and exhibitors, tinkers (metalsmiths and utensil repairmen), and musicians; the women told fortunes, sold potions, begged, and worked as entertainers. Before the advent of veterinary medicine, many farmers looked to Roma livestock dealers for advice on herd health and husbandry.
The archetypal Roma family consists of a married couple, their unmarried children, and at least one married son, his wife, and their children. Upon marriage, a young couple typically lives with the husband’s parents while the young wife learns the ways of her husband’s group. Ideally, by the time an older son is ready to move away with his family, a younger son will have married and joined the household with his new wife. Although the practice had declined significantly by the late 20th century, marriages traditionally were arranged by the elders in the family or band (vitsa) to strengthen political and kinship ties to other families, bands, or, occasionally, confederations. A central feature of Roma marriages was the payment of a bride-price to the parents of the bride by the parents of the groom.
Gypsy chieftains (voivodes) are elected for life from among outstanding families of the group, and the office is not heritable. Their power and authority vary according to the size of the band, its traditions, and its relationships with other bands within a confederation.
It was the voivode who acted as treasurer for the whole band, decided the pattern of its migration, and became its spokesman to local municipal authorities. He governed through a council of elders that also consulted with the phuri dai, a senior woman in the band. The phuri dai’s influence was strong, particularly in regard to the fate of the women and children, and seemed to rest much on the evident earning power and organization of the women as a group within the band.
Strongest among Roma institutions of social control was the kris, connoting both the body of customary law and values of justice as well as the ritual and formation of the tribunal of the band. Basic to the Roma code were the all-embracing concepts of fidelity, cohesiveness, and reciprocity within the recognized political unit. The ultimate negative sanction of the kris tribunal, which dealt with all disputes and breaches of the code, was excommunication from the band. A sentence of ostracism, however, might exclude the individual from participation in certain band activities and punish him with menial tasks. In some cases rehabilitation was granted by the elders and followed by a feast of reconciliation.
Bands are made up of vitsas, which are name groups of extended families with common descent either patrilineal or matrilineal, as many as 200 strong.
Spiritual beliefs
The Roma do not follow a single faith; rather, they often adopt the predominant religion of the country where they are living, according to Open Society, and describe themselves as "many stars scattered in the sight of God." Some Roma groups are Catholic, Muslim, Pentecostal, Protestant, Anglican or Baptist.
The Roma live by a complex set of rules that govern things such as cleanliness, purity, respect, honor and justice. These rules are referred to as what is "Rromano." Rromano means to behave with dignity and respect as a Roma person, according to Open Society. "Rromanipé" is what the Roma refer to as their worldview.
Language
Though the groups of Roma are varied, they all do speak one language, called Rromanës. Rromanës has roots in Sanskritic languages, and is related to Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and Bengali. Some Romani words have been borrowed by English speakers, including "pal" (brother) and "lollipop" (from lolo-phabai-cosh, red apple on a stick).
The Roma today
While there are still traveling bands, most use cars and RVs to move from place to place rather than the horses and wagons of the past.
Today, most Roma have settled into houses and apartments and are not readily distinguishable. Because of continued discrimination, many do not publicly acknowledge their roots and only reveal themselves to other Roma.
While there is not a physical country affiliated with the Romani people, the International Romani Union was officially established in 1977. In 2000, The 5th World Romany Congress in 2000 officially declared Romani a non-territorial nation.
During the Decade of Roma Inclusion (2005-2015), 12 European countries made a commitment to eliminate discrimination against the Roma. The effort focused on education, employment, health and housing, as well as core issues of poverty, discrimination, and gender mainstreaming. However, according to the RSG, despite the initiative, Roma continue to face widespread discrimination.
According to a report by the Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, "there is a shameful lack of implementation concerning the human rights of Roma … In many countries hate speech, harassment and violence against Roma are commonplace."
Edited from the Encyclopedia Brittanica Roma article online as well as from https://amp.livescience.com/44512-gypsy-culture.html

Votes1 DateJul 24, 2018

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Asia

Bene Israel of India

Bernard Asper

Bene Israel traditions varies on it's origin. Some claim descent from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Others believe that their ancestors fled by sea the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes of the Hanukkah story. The Bene Israel adopted Hindu names, and took up the profession of oil production. They were known in Marathi as shaniwar teli (“Saturday oil pressers”), because they abstained from work on the Jewish Sabbath.
A Jew named David Rahabi, appeared and discovering them taught them the practices of Judaism which they had previously mostly forgotten. The Jews of Cochin Indian origin acted as cantors, ritual slaughterers, and teachers for the Bene Israel. Many Bene Israel migrated toward Bombay (now Mumbai) during this period. The first of numerous Bene Israel synagogues, all following the Sefardic (Spanish) liturgy, was built in Bombay in 1796. Till this day the Bene Israel follow Sefardic Jewish practice adopted after having been instructed in it by the Cochin Jews.
When, in 1948, the state of Israel was established, many Bene Israel began to emigrate.
In 1964 the chief rabbinate of Israel after learning of the conditions of Bene Istael practises through the centuries declared the Bene Israel “full Jews in every respect” although instructing to investigate whether their marriages were in all cases legitimately performed in India due to their isolation from other Jews throughout the world.
Edited a lot from the article in them in the Encyclopedia Brittanica online.

Votes4 DateFeb 9, 2018

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Africa

Radio Taboo Sound Bite

Issa Nyaphaga
THE YUMMY SOUND SOUND BITE:
(Community Radio for Social Change)
- Don't miss this podcast Hmmmmm...! It was done in Paris on Radio Taboo last month - Bon Appétit!
http://en.rfi.fr/culture/20171007-Radio-Taboo-voice-voiceless

Votes1 DateNov 15, 2017

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North America

Maine Acadians

Bernard Asper
Maine's Franco-American heritage dates back to early French explorers, Acadian settlers and French missionaries. Today, Franco-Americans are Maine's largest ethnic group.
Maine's Acadian heritage can be traced to 1604 and a scrap of rock and timber in the St. Croix River—right between what is now Maine and New Brunswick. Tiny St. Croix Island held France’s first settlement in l'Acadie—Acadia in English—a colony on America’s North Atlantic coast. The St. Croix Island settlement didn’t last, but Acadia grew until it included much of today’s Atlantic Canada.
War ended the colony and exile scattered the Acadians. In 1785, 16 Acadian families fled Fredericton, New Brunswick—pushed out, ironically, by American Tories (American Loyalists) who’d fled the American Revolution. The Acadian families traveled up the St. John River and resettled in St. David, in northern Aroostook County.
There are a number of Acadian heritage sites throughout the St. John Valley. At The Acadian Village in Van Buren, you'll find 16 reconstructed buildings dating from 1785 to the early 1900s.
Edited from: https://visitmaine.com/things-to-do/arts-and-culture/acadian-culture

Votes3 DateNov 9, 2017

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Africa

My Work Is Having Impact Back to Africa

Issa Nyaphaga
MY WORK IS HAVING IMPACT BACK IN AFRICA:
(My Brain Is a Lab for Projects To Impact In Africa.)

Students of Master's 2 at the Institute of Fine Arts in Foumban - Cameroon.
Whether it is the Art, Human Rights or Mediation to free many from prison for demanding Equal Justice, wild ideas I started in my studios or in my wild mind alone are paying off.

Moir Walita the community organizer in Malawi talking to the students of the schools he supervises.
This week, in the small Republic of Malawi, one of the few countries in Africa to have elected a female president, my philosophy and vison is being taught this semester... The documentary films portraying my artistic endeavors and social justice project are the main topic in 7 Girls' Schools and 1400 students in the Rhumpi District in the north of Malawi.

Issa talking to the crowd in his village, Nditam before a football match
Brother Moir Walita, the community leader who supervises the schools, was invited to New Mexico in 2016 to bring awareness and collect funds for his cause - "building girls bathrooms in schools" to avoid early marriages and premature pregnancies. Moir believes girls should have education first.
One of the Issa's projects (Water for Social Peace) won the 2012 Global Rotary Peace Award in Berlin- Germany.

Votes3 DateOct 4, 2017

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