This month marks the celebration of the ninth annual Black Culture Festival in honor of Black Culture Day, Aug. 31.
First up in San José is “A Night to Remember,” an event featuring dinner and dancing as well as a fashion show and a performance by international singer and showman Gillo from Barbados.
Sponsored by Black Women in Action and Limón Roots magazine, the event will take place tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Hotel Corobicí in Sabana Norte, on the west side of San José.
Activities are scheduled across the country, from the northwestern province of Guanacaste to San José to the Caribbean slope. Most of the festival’s events, however, will take place in the Caribbean port city of Limón. The festival really gets going around Aug. 21 and culminates with a gala parade through the streets of Limón Aug. 31.
Other highlights include the crowning of “Lady Black Beauty” Aug. 25 in Limón and a number of shows and concerts, including performances by Trinidadian calypso king Mighty Sparrow in San José Aug. 28 and in Limón Aug. 31, after the parade.
Marcelle Taylor, coordinator for the Black Ethnic Civic Committee of Limón, said the city is “the capital of culture in Costa Rica,” and the heart of the country’s African roots.
Ramiro Crawford, festival organizer and editor of Limón Roots magazine, said the festival was a time for reflecting on what was being celebrated, including the things that make Afro-Costa Rican culture unique, how far blacks have come through a history of hardship and things that still need to be accomplished.
Crawford also pointed out that this August marks the 120th anniversary of the birth of Jamaican black activist and nationalist Marcus Garvey.
Garvey lived in Costa Rica from 1910 to 1911, working as a timekeeper for United Fruit Company before he founded the black newspaper La Nación, not to be confused with today’s daily. He went on to form the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Harlem, New York, in 1914.
Founded in 1922, Limón’s Liberty Hall (the Black Star Line building), where Mighty Sparrow will be playing, was the headquarters of the UNIA in Costa Rica, and has been a spot of black cultural preservation, pride and awareness ever since. Several festival events are set to take place here.