San Juan’s Museum of Our African Roots

While in Puerto Rico you should take the time to explore the African History of the country that makes the island what it is today. It’s often thought that Puerto Rico has only been influenced by Spain, but its “African Roots” play an important role in making the island the lively and vivid place that it is. Today there are many Puerto Ricans who are keen to understand where they originate from. However, as the history books show, this has not always been the case.

Now all that are interested can go to the El Museo de Nuestra Raiz Africana, otherwise known as the Museum of our African Roots, found in Old San Juan. Here you can view paintings, photographs, artifacts and documents that show the affect that African culture has had on the island. When you enter the museum you will be taken on a journey centered on the history of the African slaves in chronological order. You can learn specifics like where they originated from, their background and life style as well as their arrival to Puerto Rico. The intense mistreatment by the Spaniards is another aspect of the African slaves that you will see in great detail through pictures and documents. On the first floor of the museum you will learn about the different ethnic groups of the slaves as a variety of slaves were taken from around Africa.

The next stage of the African people here is how their lives changed with slavery being dissolved in 1868. Up until then slaves were brought to Puerto Rico to work hard and be treated badly but, apart from that, they were given no other opportunities. Hence it was quite an adjustment for them to finally be given the opportunity to go to school and work properly. Rafael Cordero was the first man to open up a school establishment for the African people because obvious remnants of the past were still a part of the white community.

The next floor goes on to explore the introduction of Spaniards to the island and how this affected the Taino Indians and the African people. It also researches how the Yoruba religion was formed from the mix of Yoruba deities and Roman Catholic saints and can be viewed through religious items and photographs. The African music, festivals, cuisines and customs of the people are also investigated.

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