News Brief

Cuba Now Has Two Black, Female Vice Presidents

Cuba's new government is more inclusive than ever, but will it lead to a real change in race relations in the country?

The Cuban government has undergone a major shift in leadership.

With the appointment of Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermudez as president, this will be the first time in 60 years, that Cuba will not be under the leadership of a member of the Castro family. Along with this major change comes the appointment of more women and Afro-Cubans into governmental positions than ever before, reports the New York Times.

Most notably, three Afro-Cubans women have been appointed vice presidents, Salvador Valdes Mesa as first vice president as well as two women Inés María Chapman and Beatriz Jhonson, who are both engineers from Eastern Cuba. There are a total of three women in the new council.


Though the appointment of women and Afro Cuban people into positions of power is a major milestone for the country, many remain skeptical that this move will quell racial and economic disparities in the country, as many still hold onto beliefs put in place by Castro of Cuba as a post-racial society. Some argue that though these officials are more than qualified, their appointments may be partially for show.

Nonetheless, many view the changes as real progress.

"Yes, it has great significance," Ramón Colas, a black anti-Castro activist living in political asylum in Mississippi told the New York TImes. "The Cuban revolution has historically been white, and seen from the outside as a revolution by white men, where black people were part of the crowd, spectators who were silent or applauded, but never participated."

He says it's up to the black officials to make a conscious decision to speak out against racial inequality, though they will likely face pushback.

"Wouldn't it be great if they used those positions to say, 'As a black Cuban, I am against injustice against black people in Cuba?' " he said. "I doubt that they can do that. They are not allowed. Fidel declared that racism is a problem that ended."

Alejandro de la Fuente, a Harvard University Cuba Atudies professor, told the New York Times that, statistically, the country has seen progress when it comes to closing the gap in life expectancy between blacks and whites and in closing the educational gap as well, though there is still work to be done.

"Even if this was window-dressing, it would mean they feel the need to dress the window in a certain color," he said. "And that is something one would not have said 30 years ago."

Earlier this month, Epsy Campbell Barr became vice president of Costa Rica, making her the first black, female vice president in Latin American history.

Photo by Alfredo Zuniga / AFP

Mozambique's Political Unrest: Where Things Stand

Fears continue to be on the rise as more attacks by militants are anticipated in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province.

On March 24th, militants stormed Palma—a gas-rich city in Mozambique—as part of an ongoing insurgency in the country dating back to 2017. Dozens of civilians have been killed although an official death toll has not been declared as of yet. Currently, at least 8000 more have been left displaced, fleeing to other parts of the country and attempting to seek asylum in Tanzania. This is believed to be the worst attacks carried out by the Islamist militant group, Al-Shabaab, to date.
Keep reading... Show less
Photo by Alain MINGAM/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

Former Burkinabe President Charged with Thomas Sankara's Murder

Justice is on the horizon as Burkina Faso's former president, Blaise Compaore, is indicted for the 1987 assassination of Thomas Sankara.

Burkina Faso's former president, Blaise Compaore, has reportedly been indicted by a military court in the country's capital for the 1987 assassination of political revolutionary, Thomas Sankara. Hailed as a national hero, Sankara was assassinated alongside 12 other government officials in a coup led by Compaore before he ascended to power. In 2014, Compaore was forced to resign from his 27-year-long rule and seek exile in the Ivory Coast after continued mass demonstrations. Thirteen other political figures, including former General Gilbert Diendere, have also been indicted with charges including "assassination" and "concealment of corpses".

Keep reading... Show less

​DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small Enlist Tresor on Their New Amapiano Album

"Rumble In The Jungle", the latest project from dynamic duo DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small, in collaboration with singer TRESOR, offers a refreshingly mature and pan-African amapiano sound.

Acclaimed South African production duo, DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small, popularly known as Scorpion Kings, recently released their new album Rumble In The Jungle in collaboration with TRESOR, a Congolese-born but South Africa-based vocalist. The album's two lead singles "Funu" and "Fola Sade" are already popular with music fans. By roping Tresor into their latest amapiano offering, DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small aimed to create a musical experience that would unite Africans.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Commonwealth Short Story Prize Announces 2021 Shortlist

Moso Sematlane, Rémy Ngamije, Ola W. Halim, Vincent Anioke and Franklyn Usouwa are the African writers on the shortlist for this year's Commonwealth Short Story Prize.