port of harlem magazine
Theo Hodge, Jr. M.D.
Sebastián Lemba (I of II)

Oct 19 – Nov 01, 2023
Praising the Past

Sebastián Lemba

The Honoree

When Sebastián Lemba was a young man in southern Africa, slave traders captured him around 1525. His owner took him to France and Spain and eventually to Hispaniola, an island now shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Lemba and other enslaved Africans rose up against the Spanish colony around 1532.

The rebels eventually escaped to the mountainous interior of the island and for several years fought against the Spanish. Other freedom seeking enslaved Africans joined their group. Ultimately, on September 25, 1547, Lemba was captured. Today, Dominicans revere Lemba as a national hero, and a statue of him stands outside of the Museo del Hombre Dominicano (Museum of the Dominican People) in the capital city, Santo Domingo.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti to the west.
During the start of the 19th century Haiti became independent from France after a series of slave revolts in 1804. Afterwards the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo, the predecessor of the Dominican Republic, also became independent from Spain in 1821.

Since 1804 many wars, massacres, border disputes, and stand-offs have occurred between the two countries. Haiti would eventually become the poorest country in the region, while the Dominican Republic developed into one of the largest economies of Latin America.

domincan republic

The Artist's Creative Explanation

"During the creation of this acrylic painting on stretched canvas of Sebastian Lemba, I thought about where he came from and where enslavers took him. Thinking of our homeland, the green background came to my mind as a visual starting point. I later incorporated yellow and fuchsia, two of the many colors the Lemba people use. However, showing an interpretation of Sebastian Lemba wasn’t enough; at the bottom of the painting, I included a glimpse of the rebellion to take you to the action and show you the struggle."

- willie c cordy, jr

Artist Willie C. Cordy, Jr.

About "From These Shores"

From These Shores celebrates the accomplishments of 18 known and lesser-known Africans in the diaspora across time and geography. The 12 panels hang at the Juffureh Slavery Museum, The Gambia and online. Timbooktoo Bookstore in New Bakau, The Gambia and Mansa Musa Restaurant in Takoma Park, MD USA each display one of the panels.
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