Cuba's campaigning links with Africa

poster featuring Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle, 1989 by Alberto Blanco González
Courtesy Lincoln Cushing / Docs Populi Archive

Art of Solidarity is the first exhibition to focus on OSPAAAL’s campaigning links with Africa. 

Many of the works focus on the fight against foreign domination and the struggle for self-determination, conveying resistance to colonialism and apartheid, including visual references to the struggle against slavery and racism.

In the race to become the dominant global superpower, the Cold War era saw the United States and Soviet Union struggle for political influence in Africa and economic control of her raw materials. To gain influence over the continent, both provided military support to liberation struggles and wars across Africa, in places such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Zimbabwe.

Support for the struggles of other nations is an important part of the national culture of Cuba, owing to its long history of fighting against foreign political and economic domination. Cuba’s support for these political movements in Africa also reflected both its historical and political links to the continent.

During the era of the transatlantic slave trade, more than half a million enslaved Africans were transported to Cuba, initially working in gold mines. Later, in the 1820s, while slavery was on the decline elsewhere sugar production in Cuba boomed, making Havana one of the most significant trading ports in the world.

Enslaved Africans and their descendants helped to create Cuba’s unique and vibrant culture, most evident in its music, dance and art. Today, a significant proportion of Cubans are able to trace their ancestral roots to Africa.

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