Colombian writer Hugo Tovar (M), his niece Juliet (L), Juliet’s Mum (R) and their little cousin. Photo Credit: African Press Club
Dateline: Calle Boada, Barcelona Spain.
I’m intrigued by the African Diaspora in all parts of the world. For many Africans, the black people we are readily acquainted with outside our shores are African-Americans, due to the fact that the United States of America (USA) is a world power. The minorities are visible. We hang out with them in our living rooms through movies, sports, and music on television. It’s effortless.
Who doesn’t know the King of Pop Michael Jackson, for instance? If you don’t, you must be living under a rock! What about Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Muhammad Ali, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, Jay-z, Denzel Washington? They’re in our faces all the time courtesy of Hollywood – that America soft power that commands global following.
Cross over to the other side of the ocean in South and Central America or what is simply referred to as Latin America, we hardly hear of Afro-descendants. They’re an invisible minority. Yet, Afro-descendants are in large numbers in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico and Ecuador. Other nations in this region where black people exist are Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, etc.
Do you know that Brazil is the country with the largest number of black people, (including multiracial people), outside of Africa? That’s according to Wikipedia. It’s relevant information for those who are keen on learning about the Diaspora. Although the Caribbean is not my focus today, it’s necessary to throw in the fact that Afro-descendants dominate in Haiti, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Guadeloupe, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat, etc.
On account of this background, I was pleased to attend the book presentation of “Mil Partes” by Colombian writer Hugo Tovar in Barcelona. His niece, Juliet, one of the most exuberant, joyful and pleasant people I’ve met in Barcelona, invited me to the event. There are 20 million black people in Colombia for your information.
Growing up in Buenaventura, a coastal city, little Hugo had a flair for writing. He began putting pen to paper at the age of 13. But life happened, as it often does. This saw him drifting into other endeavors. He ended up as a Manager in the development field having gained three degrees in this order: Political Science (first degree) Public Administration (Masters), Local Development and International Cooperation (PhD).
Four years ago, he found his way back to writing while keeping his day job. Hugo loves poetry, biography, history, books on African Diaspora and African descendants, and books on management and organizational behavior. Mil Partes (a thousand parts) is rich with 120 poems focusing on love, deception, fear, and hope.
Hugo tells me that the driving force behind Mil Partes is the desire to promote reading and writing culture in his region. He is convinced that this will motivate others to follow his footsteps. Like Africa, he says Afro-descendants have an oral tradition. Hugo is keen to encourage his people to document their culture and traditions.
It took him over two years to finish Mil Partes, which is his second piece of work. A third book is underway. He also plans to travel to Ghana and Senegal to spend time on the slave routes, where he hopes to gain some inspiration for poetry.
I definitely look forward to reading that book when it’s published. I suggest a title: “Thoughts from the Point of No Return.” I have a sense it’ll be a spiritually loaded piece of work, from my experience visiting the slave dungeon in Goree Island, Senegal. The last bit of the tour on the island, after snaking through distressingly hideous rooms where slaves were held, is the “door of no return.”
This door opens into the vast ocean. I imagined the wailing that occurred here while people were being forcefully dragged into ships that sailed to unknown destinations. I stood there, completely humbled and lost in my own thoughts as the ferocious wind charged at me, threatening to uproot me into the sea. From that point, there’s nothing except a mass of tempestuous water slapping whatever came in contact with it. There was certainly a ghostly presence. Urrrrrrrr, it was chilling.
I believe the African Diaspora and Africans should reach out to one another. There’s power in partnerships. You might be amazed at what we could learn from one another.
Finally, congratulations on your book, Hugo. We look forward to more from you. To my faithful readers, have you ever wondered about the African Diaspora in far-flung places? What do you know about the African Diaspora in your part of the world in Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, Australia, etc? In what ways can we collaborate? Please share your thoughts in the comment box. I wish you an awesome week!
Also feel free to reach me by email if you have any question: firstname.lastname@example.org.