AfriCaribe is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, research, promotion, and development of the Puerto Rican and Caribbean cultures through music, dance, theater, and other artistic media.
Created in 2000 by Evaristo “Tito” Rodriguez, AfriCaribe provides Chicago with a means to celebrate the African influence in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean lands. Rodriguez’ vision came to fruition in the form of an umbrella organization providing educational and cultural programming through four main initiatives:
- An academy, in which professional dancers and musicians teach the traditional drumming and dance of several Puerto Rican ‘Bomba’ rhythms;
- A performance ensemble, which presents various styles of folk music from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean through song, dance, drumming, and other percussion;
- A production company, which presents annual events including folklore conferences;
- An education department, which provides workshops and lectures by organization members as well as by guest professionals.
Culture can be defined as “the soul of a group of people.” Traditions, language, literature, theatre, music, dance, and art help define a cultural group. Such factors are developed over time through the shared experiences of adaptation, creation, and survival. Thus, culture becomes both “of the past” as well as that which is currently practiced. In this process, culture evolves, moving ahead while using as its foundation that which has come before.
AfriCaribe’s approach is to acknowledge the offerings of the past by fusing them with original ideas, thereby contributing to an evolving culture. By using the lessons of the past, a group can grow a space in which people struggling for cultural survival may preserve, create, and develop traditions. We will carry out this goal with respect to the contributions of our ancestors, with adherence to the integrity of tradition, and with a commitment to creativity and self-expression.
AfriCaribe seeks to accomplish its mission by developing a performance ensemble utilizing dance, music, theater, and other artistic forms with which to celebrate cultural traditions. While reflecting the influence of other ethnic and cultural groups, AfriCaribe’s primary focal point is the African culture of the Caribbean.
The rich components of AfriCaribe allow us to complete our mission as “a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, research, promotion, and development of the Puerto Rican and Caribbean cultures through music, dance, theater, and other artistic media.”