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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 thefirst 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 areboth 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: The Sundance Institute

C.J. Obasi On Bringing the Legend of Mami Wata to the Big Screen

The Nigerian director saw a vision of Mami Wata, then made a film that became the toast of Sundance and won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematography.

C.J. Obasi’s third feature length film MamiWata has taken Sundance by storm. The mesmerizing fable, which marks the first time a home-grown Nigerian film scores a competition prize at the Sundance Film Festival, delves into the myth of the Mami Wata folklore, a terrifying mermaid goddess popular across West Africa. Obasi’s MamiWata tells a simple enough story of good versus evil, and the importance of maintaining balance while hurtling towards societal change. But Obasi is not your basic filmmaker, and his interpretation of this well-known folklore is a startling cinematic achievement that advances his singular vision.

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Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Listen to Burna Boy Feature On Popcaan's New Song 'Aboboyaa'


Renowned dancehall artist Popcaan has released his album Great Is He, via OVO Sound, and it features none other than Burna Boy.


Jamaica's Popcaanhas shared his anticipated album Great Is He, and the body of work features Nigerian superstar Burna Boy on the track "Aboboyaa."

The album showcases the Jamaican musical giant's signature dancehall sound, while also exploring the depth of genre's versatility. In addition to featuring Burna Boy, Great Is He includes features from OVO Sound's boss Drake, Jamaica's Chronic Law, and Toni-Ann Singh, among others.

On "Aboboyaa," the two musical powerhouses merge their signature rhythmic melodies and intonations in a way that is both compelling to listen to on the first listen, and in turn inspires a second and third listen.

Ever since he released his debut album in 2014, Popcaan has become an international dancehall sensation, and his repertoire includes a list of impressive features.

His album Forever, which was released in 2018, debuted at number two on Billboard’s Top Reggae Albums. Commercially, Popcaan has made a mark on the music scene too. His last project FIXTAPE — which included “Twist & Turn,” the mesmerizing dancehall hit featuring Drake and PARTYNEXTDOOR — has garnered over 191 million streams and continues to receive accolades from outlets like Pitchfork, who described the body of work as “a testament to his place at the forefront of the genre.”

"Aboboyaa" is not Popcaan's first international collaboration. In the past, the Jamaican icon has worked with several international music acts including Davido, Jamie xx, Young Thug, Gorillaz, Kano, Jorja Smith and a host of others. He also founded Jamaica’s annual Unruly Festwhich brings stars across the globe to experience Jamaican culture.

Listen to "Aboboyaa" featuring Burna Boy below.

Listen to Popcaan and Burna Boy's "Aboboyaa"

Photo: Nabil Elderkin.

The Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Popcaan x Burna Boy, Bongeziwe Mabandla, Mr Eazi, Baaba Maal, Pheelz and more.

Every Friday, we highlight the top releases through our best music of the week column, Songs You Need to Hear. Here's our round-up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks.

If you like these music lists, you can also check out our Best Songs of the Month columns following Nigerian, Ghanaian, East African and South African music. If you missed them, check out our music lists for the Best of 2022 here.

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