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They Are We (2014)

In Central Cuba, proud members of the Gangá-Longobá, a small Afro-Cuban ethnic group, have kept their unique heritage alive. Incredibly, through decades of brutal enslavement, independence wars, and then the denying of all religions after the revolution, they have retained a collection of distinct songs and dances that one of their ancestors brought from Africa as a slave. Each December 17th they still perform them at the San Lazaro ceremony. After a chance discovery while working in West Africa, director Emma Christopher spent two years showing a film of the Gangá-Longobá songs and dances to several thousand people across Sierra Leone. Eventually, in an isolated village with no road access, one man looked at another in joy and wonder as he watched a recording of the Gangá-Longobá songs and said, “THEY ARE WE!” Then the villagers joined in with others of the Gangá-Longobá songs, still recognizing them clearly despite all the years of separation. Returning to Cuba, Emma showed her findings to the Gangá-Longobá. In early 2013, after the law changed allowing them to freely leave Cuba, a trip was at last made to visit Sierra Leone. THEY ARE WE tells the story of the Gangá-Longobá and of the village their ancestor called home. It is the story of how, just very occasionally, a family separated by the slave trade can reunite for the good of all. Excerpt from Icarus Films website.

Lesson Guides and Classroom Activities

They Are We: Educator Guide

Grade Levels: 9–12, College
Subject Area(s): Spanish, Social Studies, Dance, Music
This thorough guide to the documentary film They Are We discusses the African Slave Trade in Latin America and the Afro-Cuban culture and influence. Four classroom applications about Afro-Cuban Culture, cultural identity of Afro-Latinos, Afro-Cuban music and influences, and contemporary Afro-descendants in Latin America. This guide includes a list of discussion questions to accompany the film, as well as an extensive glossary and appendix of activities.

Lesson Plans

Booklet They Are We: Educator Guide

CLAS Lending Library Resources

DVD They Are We

CLAS Workshop Presentations

DVD Questions of Memory and History in Cuba and Sierra Leone