Through a workshop and a booklet, tourist guides of Cartagena have now been trained to speak of deterritorialization and the greatest people trafficking episode from Africa towards the Caribbean and South America in recent history.
For this purpose the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Center for Social Studies and the Colombian Ministry of Culture organized a workshop and published a booklet which is now one of the main tools for tourist guide training.
Colonial Cartagena visited by at least 20,000 tourists each month will now engage as one more of the cities which has broken its silence on transatlantic people trafficking. Tourist guides will now tell Colombian and foreign tourists the legacy left by slavery between the Fifteenth and Ninetieth Century.
Places such as Calle de La Factoría, the Plaza de la Aduana or Bahía interior will now be the stage to recreate the route of slavery, from the moment African slave cargoes arrived, up to their purchase by wealthy landowners and business men.
The new history which will be told in Cartagena will transcend the only slavery references in the city which are limited to the Benkos Biohó Plaza and the statue of the slave protected by San Pedro Claver.
With unknown data to what has been considered a crime against humanity, tourist guides such as Wilfrido León, a language professor, known as Willy, participated in a workshop organized by the UNal Research Group on Racial Equality, Cultural Differences, Environmental Conflicts and Racism in Black America (IDCARÁN, for its Spanish acronym) and coordinated by Professor Claudia Mosquera. Willy who has been a tourist guide for almost five years was surprised as he was unaware of the history of slavery.
The new mission of the tourist guides is part of an international project entitled, “Slave Route project: resistance, liberty, heritage”, created by UNESCO in 1994.
“Colombia has been lagging in rebuilding this history. The important thing is that other cities where the legacy of Africans brought to this country was also present, do the same and replicate the experience we put into practice in Cartagena,” said Mosquera.
For the President of the Cartagena Tourism Corporation Zully Salazar the training UNal offers to chosen guides in this first summons will provide an interesting twist in the way to showcase the walled city from the slavery perspective. She also said that she thought people from Cartagena do not know this history well.
Tales of the African imprint
In the theoretical and practical five session workshop they spoke on the history of the Afro-American population and their great contributions, especially in music and dancing. Furthermore the delved deeper on the African legacy as highlighted by Professor Mosquera, speaking on the work of IDCARÁN, with support of the Ford Foundation and UNESCO.
For the workshop on memory sites in Cartagena, 25 tourist guides were summoned including experienced guides such as César Stern and Sandy Cuadrado.
Mosquera, member of the UNESCO International Scientific Committee of the “Slave Route Project” heads this initiative which also summoned academics such as Alberto Abello Vives, Caribbean Studies M.Sc. and who devised the tourist guide course; Javier Ortiz Cassiani, Historian and History Ph.D. candidate of the Mexico School of History and Sandra Mendoza Lafaurie, Historian and UNal Museologist M.Sc.
Furthermore the guides will have a booklet, created by IDCARÁN, which is based on the documents known as La memoria incómoda: afrodescendientes y lugares de memoria en Cartagena de Indias, (An uncomfortable memory: African descendants and place of memory in Cartagena de Indias) by Ortiz Cassiani for the Colombian Ministry of Culture and the book Rutas de libertad, 500 años de travesía, (Routes of Freedom, a 500 year journey) from the same ministry and the Universidad Javeriana, edited by Roberto Burgos Cantor.
Agencia de Noticias UNAL |