Friday, February 27, 2015

Black Perú—Souls of Our Ancestors

Mariela in Lima

I'm hanging out with members of Makungu Para El Desarrollo,
Mariela (center) and Alberto (right) at Starbucks in Lima, Perú.

While black Peruvians have preserved African culture in the nation of Perú, they took a cue from the U.S. Civil rights and black pride movements, and started movements of their own. One such movement is Makungu Para El Desarrollo (Developing the Soul of Our Ancestors). The word Makungu is a Bantu word named for this organization whose purpose is to strengthen the identity of young Afro-Peruvians and to reassess and strengthen black culture with special emphasis on education. This is in addition to fighting  discrimination, racism and exclusion from Peruvian society.

Makungu Para El Desarrollo sponsors educational scholarship programs born in response to the problems of access of young blacks in higher education and aiming to promote professional development of young Afro-Peruvians with limited financial resources

This program was born after the initiative of one of the founders of Makungu, who bears the name the program, taking as inspiration the thinking of Nelson Mandela, who said: "education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a miner can become head of the mine, a child of farm workers can get to be the president of a great nation.”

Because of my frequent trips to Perú, it has been a heartfelt pleasure for me to connect with members of the Makungu Para El Desarrollo which unites Afro-Peruvians in the capital city of Lima. When visiting any Latin American country, I try to learn as much as I can about the country's black history and try to get as close to the black experience of that country as possible.

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