Greetings! This is Mariama Taifa-Seitu. I have been studying photojournalism at Temple University, and this will be my first documentary photography project in Havana since I became a Journalism major. I wish to create audio visual slideshows for two topics I have been researching for the past year and a half. I will get the visuals from the photos I take while in Havana, and I will interview Cuban participants for the audio. My photo stories focus on the identity of Afro-Cubans in a socialist society that dismisses concepts of race, and the roots of West African spirituality in the African diaspora in Havana. I have done my research on the topics, so now its time to get the photos, but I won’t be able to complete this project without some financial help! The two audio-visual slideshows will be posted on my photography website http://mariamataifaseitu.wix.com/myphotography. Thank you for any contribution! Medasi! And please note, although my goal is $1000, I hope to raise much more to be able to complete this project so please continue to contribute until the campaign date closes.
Topic 1: Femininity and Spirituality: I am interested in the feminine spirit and its relation to religion. I want to illustrate the continuation of Santeria and Yoruba practiced by Cuban women. The metaphysical holocaust of the Atlantic Slave trade stripped the diaspora of identity. However, African spirituality persists in Cuba through the maintenance of African spiritual traditions. I want to show how these practices have helped to maintain community against capitalism and imperialism.
Topic 2: Race in Cuba: Cuba is defined as an anti-racist, anti-colonial nation with the beginnings of the Revolutionary government. However, racism still persists. In a society that is already extremely racist, it is difficult to create a “new man,” as Che Guevara suggested, to innately believe a raceless nation is possible, where everyone is treated equally. In a society where a whole population of people have been disenfranchised for generations and have been held back from receiving the same benefits as others, there are underlying structural political, economic and social disparities. The Cuban revolutionary government took great strides to turning Jose Marti’s dream of a nation with all and for all into a reality, but how far can a dream go when people still inherently see the world as “black and white.”
A Nikon D70!
With the contributions I receive from this campaign, I will put toward the purchase of a Nikon D70. This is a type of digital camera that my mentor, Peter Turnley, uses for his photo assignments abroad, so I want to start honing my skills as a street photographer and photojournalist with nikon cameras as well. The Nikon D70 will be used for my Cuba and other documentary photography projects. Thank you so much for your help. Ama