As part of the strategy to raise awareness about the sustainable use and exploitation of the San Andrés Black Crab, the Providencia and Santa Catalina Archipelago, Slow Food and the Afro Cultural Assets Foundation (ACUA) have launched the contest “Black Crab: all for the protection of the bastion of Raizal culture «. The objective of the contest is to motivate the participation of the young people of the archipelago in the reflection and awareness of the community about the protection of this important resource and to promote its sustainable consumption through photography, music, videos, and digital media.
The black crab is a crustacean that lives in the tropical dry forest of the archipelago and is deeply rooted in the local gastronomic culture. In addition, it represents the economic base for the sustenance of the families of the island. In recent times, a sharp drop has been observed in its species due to environmental climatic factors, as well as its excessive exploitation, even in the periods when the catch is closed. That is why it is vital to generate reflection within the island community on how to promote its use and sustainable development, involving new generations as spokesmen for a message of protection and improvement of the black crab as a bulwark of radical culture.
The contest was aimed at young raizales between 18 and 30 years old, residing in the archipelago, interested in expressing their reflections on the overexploitation of this species and proposing ideas to promote its conservation and sustainable use. Shirney Henry (photography), Mathew Robinson (photography), and Andrew Howard (music), young people from the municipalities of Providencia and Santa Catalina, were the winners of the competition.
Shirney Henry is a young Providence girl born to a Raizal family in the Casa Baja sector. In her own words, Shirney expresses her motivations for participating in the contest with her photographs: “What motivated me to participate in the contest was the love of my culture. I am aware that the Providencia black crab is a symbol that identifies our islands and that differentiates us from the rest of Colombia. Furthermore, it has been present in my life for as long as I can remember. Its flavor and aroma have taken over our family gatherings, where laughter and anecdotes are heard as large cauldron soup or Rondón cakes are cooked.
For his part, Matthew Robinson, a shy young man in his speech and gaze, reveals himself by presenting extroverted photographs, wherein the light of the lantern, the crabs show their colors and penetrating glances. Dressed in black with white spots and touches of red, purple, and brown gloves, a beautiful “tiger” crab appears in front of Matthew’s cell phone lens. At only 13 years old, this young man from Providencia in the Santa Isabel sector tells us:
“The black crab is a fundamental part of our culture and gastronomy, so it deserves to be protected. The black crab has been with us for many generations, so I urge you not to catch females with eggs or small crabs, so that future generations have a chance to meet you.”
With a more extroverted and Caribbean touch, Andrew Howard shows his roots, his talent and leaves us a message of conservation of the species in a Creole song. He tells us about traditional recipes, their migration process, and how to preserve the species. In his native language, Creole, Andrew insistently invokes the black crab and invites us to take care of its roots:
“Wi haffi cares for a … Wi haffi preserves the roots, black crab, black crab.” Andrew was born into the Providence, Southwest, or Southwest music industry. Empire from training, its rhythm, and its words transport us to the southern beaches, where crabs spawn and dance in the moonlight.
In an exemplary and talented way, Shirney, Andrew, and Matthew have masterfully expressed the importance of the black crab for the Raizal natives of the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina. His photographs are worthy of being exposed to the world and the new song of the black crab deserves to be spread like a black crab seed in the sea. All that remains is to thank these talented young people, Fundación Acua and Slow Food, for their important work.
The contest took place within the project “Empowering indigenous youth and their communities to defend their food heritage”, funded by IFAD’s International Fund for Agricultural Development.