For many years until 2015, Mexicans of African descent that lived in the South American country received no recognition as a group in the country.
In recent times, the census bureau has recognized the country’s black population in a national survey, and it has been revealed that 1.4 million citizens identify as Afro-Mexican.
The slave trade of the 1500s is what brought African people to Mexico as the Spanish brought slaves to work on farms after deadly epidemic killed a large number of indigenous slaves that were already working in the agrarian and silver industries.
A well-known figure who led the emancipation of African slaves is Gasper Yanga. He was a slave and is believed to be a descendant of the royal house of Gabon. He led a successful resistance against a special army sent by the Spanish Crown to crush their uprising, and after several victories against the army, the Spanish agreed to the demand of the slaves for land and freedom.
A popular dance group that’s connecting with their African roots and creating awareness of the Afro-Mexican history and culture is the Obatala. They live in the southern state of Oaxaca, and are named after a Yoruba deity of West Africa.
Here’s a video of the Obatala and the work they do to create awareness of Afro-Mexican history and culture:
*image from Ventures Africa.