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Monday, December 2, 2013

Afro-Ecuadorian Outsmarts Her Slave Masters



María Chinquiquirá (pronounced Cheen-kee-kee-RAH), a former black slave in what is now Ecuador's largest city, Guayaquil, is today an important symbol in Ecuador, particularly among Afro-Ecuadorians whom from my observations during my two visits, and from my correspondence with Afro-Ecuadorian Facebook friends, are raising their consciousness and pride in their heritage. Someone in an Afro-Ecuadorian forum referred to Ecuador's black movement as being in the spirit of María Chinquiquirá.

María, born in Guayaquil had a history of being mistreated by men. She lived during the 16th century, a time when being black meant being a slave in Ecuador. Her intelligence, knowledge, and determination along with a thorough understanding of her rights according to Ecuadorian law, changed the course of her history and those of thousands of women in Ecuador as she became the first slave in Ecuador to win her freedom and that of her daughter through a legal battle in May 1794. She won her freedom by accusing her masters of dishonorable acts including, siring children with slave women, requiring work on Sundays, withholding time for mass, and failing to provide instruction in the faith. Her portrait hangs in the Museum of Nahim Isaias in Guayaquil.