Grand West Indian Fair
PANAMA. Staying in the city for the Carnival? The Transistmica celebrations not really your scene? Then check out the XXVII Grand West ...
PANAMA. Staying in the city for the Carnival? The Transistmica celebrations not really your scene? Then check out the XXVII Grand West Indian Fair, sponsored by the Society of Friends of the West Indian Museum of Panama (SAMAAP) and the National Institute of Culture of Panama (INAC).
The fair will be held both Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. on the grounds of the West Indian Museum of Panama located on the corner of Justo Arosemena Avenue and 24th Street East, in El Marañón.
There will be a variety of West Indian Foods on sale, music, dances, in addition to Panamanian arts and crafts and more.
Among the savory offerings there will be: buns-all-year-round, yuca Pone/Bread Pudding. sorrell-pineapple drink. What with many local restaurants closed for the holidays, the fair provides a good alternative to stock up on weekend goodies.
Panama paraphernalia, including calendars and a CD with 32 Panamanian recipes, will also be on sale.
Little recognition is given to the thousands of West Indians who migrated to Panama in the 19th and 20th centuries in search of a job.
Jamaicans, Barbadians and other islanders flocked to Panama to build the link between the two Americas that the Frenchman de Lesseps and later the Americans had dreamed of.
Once on the move, there was little to stop these hardy traveller workers moving on to the sugar plantations of Central America, Cuba and the USA.
Housed in a one-room former colonial church in Panama City's rundown Calidonia district, the Panamanian West Indian Museum has championed the memory of the canal's black work force since the museum opened in 1981, recognizing that although the engineering skill should be attributed to the French and Americans, it was also the West Indians’ physical labor that helped build the Canal.
Every year, the Society of Friends of the Afro-Antillean Museum of Panama (SAMAAP) hosts its "Conozca Su Canal" ("Know Your Canal") celebration in mid-August, honoring the Canal’s anniversary with a host of activities across Panama City and Colon.
Among the highlights is a pilgrimage to the Panama Canal to sing, pray, and strew rose petals in honor of the thousands of West Indian canal laborers who sacrificed their lives or ruined their health and were treated as lower class citizens on a different pay scale to American workers during construction. Without their efforts, the canal might still be an engineer’s dream.