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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Paraguay's African Heritage



Paraguay was the last port of arrival of African slaves in Americas, and they, mostly of Angolan origin, first arrived in 1556. According the Afro Paraguayan Association Kamba Cuá, in 1782, the black population represented 11.2 percent of the total population. In 1811 half of the Paraguayan population was of African descent. Also, curiously, people of ethnic Kamba Cuá, a Kenyan ethnic group out of Uruguay, who settled in Paraguay in the1820s arrived in a regiment of 250 spearmen, men and women, who accompanied General Jose Gervasio Artigas, the revolutionary leader of Uruguay, in his exile in Paraguay.  

There are three Black communities in Paraguay;: the Kamba Cuá, Kamba Kokue (meaning "chacra de negros"- black farm in Guarani language), and Emboscada. These three communities are in the eastern region of the country.
 
In this context, Paraguay has been developing the tour of a show called "Negritud de colores" (Black Colors) that runs in different cities. It is a show of Afro-Latin American music and dance scenes, songs, chants, and dances with rescued African roots of this continent. The Paraguayan singer Mariví Vargas and his team of musicians, drummers, and dancer from Kamba Cuá led by Lazaro Medina and offer a show that aims to make Afro-Paraguayan culture a visible part of the collective African descent.