Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Information About Afro-Ecuadorians And Five YouTube Videos Of Afro-Ecuadorians Culture

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information about Afro-Ecuadorians and showcases five YouTube videos of Afro-Ecuadorian culture. Selected comments from some of these video's discussion threads are also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for socio-cultural, educational, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are featured in the YouTube examples that are embedded in this post and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

By Ellen Gordon | 19 June, 2015
"The far-north coast of Ecuador has a historical and cultural background that sets it apart from most of the rest of the country, with cultural traditions whose roots stretch across the globe. In recent years, the Afro-Ecuadorian community who make up most of Esmeraldas have made significant progress in gaining their rights with a constitutional referendum in 1998 which accepted for the first time the status of Ecuador as a racially and culturally hybrid country. Nevertheless, racist attitudes persist and are not always, but very often ingrained in Ecuadorian social norms, especially away from the coastal areas. Esmeraldas, with a 70% Afro-Ecuadorian population, is the most Afro-Ecuadorian concentrated region, followed by the Valle del Chota and both Quito and Guayaquil. These groups have been historically discriminated against by other ethnic groups in all areas except sport, with Afro-Ecuadorians making up a large proportion of the national football team.

Esmeraldas takes its name from Spanish colonisers, who hoped to find a rich source of emeralds, but also for the lush tropical vegetation of the area. A mixture of historical archives and legends tell the tale of a slave ship wrecked along the Northern Pacific coast of Ecuador in 1533 which led to the establishment of an African diaspora settlement merged with indigenous groups from the Esmeraldas area. Runaway slaves from Brazil and surrounding settlements and plantations joined communities known as palenques, and together these groups held off the Spanish colonial powers for many years. The intense mixing and merging of cultures from different sides of the globe is evident in the music of the region today, as in many areas of the Americas where very culturally and ethnically different groups were pushed together under the violent and displacing pressure of the slave trade. Nevertheless African-descended cultural aspects are visible in the popular marimba and arrullos, along with Afro-Brazilian samba influences. This shows the active role played by Africans and their descendants in the cultural make-up of these areas even within the repressive slave trade.

The base of the music is made up of rhytmic drumming and the warm and distinctive marimba, a wooden xylophone, accompanied by singers and a traditional dance. In Esmeraldas and the Pacific Coast of Colombia a branch of the genre, marimba salsera, has more contemporary influences of the salsa culture popular in most parts of Ecuador and throughout Latin America. The esmeraldeños celebrate this cultural and musical legacy in various festivals and performances such as the Festival Internacional de Danza y Musica Afro, and music accompanies and is part of different religious practises. The increasing recognition given to the cultural and historical richness of the area may go some way to confronting the established racist attitudes, but due to the region’s relative economic, infrastructural and social isolation, significant change and equality for Afro-Ecuadorians is yet to materialise.

Despite the advent of colonialism and having to endure constant discrimination by the dominant mestizo and criollo populations, Afro Ecuadorians have managed to maintain a distinct identity, deeply embedded with their African culture and traditions for nearly four and a half centuries. Unlike the Garifuna who strongly associates with and maintains a rather equal identification with both their African and Carib/indigenous ancestry, Afro Ecuadorians are descendants of Black slaves who overpowered and intermarried with the local indigenous population. However, due to deeply-rooted racism, they have been unable to integrate with the larger Ecuadorian society and as a result, have chosen to create and maintain a strong association with their Black/African ancestry.

The history of Afro Ecuadorians has been one of defined by resilience. The slave boat carrying their forefathers shipwrecked off the coast of the Esmeraldas in 1553 and they were able to create a distinct identity for themselves by preserving aspects of their African roots and culture by successfully fending off the constant onslaught of Spanish colonizers. They were also able to create what is known as the “Zambo Republic”, which became the preferred destination for escaped slaves throughout the region.

Today, Afro Ecuadorians predominantly occupying the coastal Esmeraldas and Valle del Chota regions and they have used music, in the form of the marimba dance, to create a distinct identity within the larger Ecuadorian society and to preserve their African roots and culture. The marimba is a musical instrument, which consists of wooden bars and metal mallets. It closely resembles the xylophone and was derived from the West African balafon. Music among Afro Ecuadorians corresponds with the currulao, or marimba dance. This too has strong roots in the Bantu and Mande heritages in West Africa.

For many Afro Ecuadorians, marimba dances served as the ultimate expression of freedom. To some extent they operated as an autonomous state since they were able to fend off the Spanish colonizers. However, due to the encroachment of the dominant mestizo on the Esmeraldas due to the regions bountiful mineral wealth, restriction were placed on Afro Ecuadorians and for a large portion of the 20th century, marimba dances were regulated and were prohibited unless one possessed a permit. While this greatly affected the prevalence of marimba music and by default Afro Ecuadorian’s African roots and culture, in the early to mid 20th century, Afro-Ecuadorians would once again display their resilient spirit by resurrecting their beloved musical dances and traditions.

In the 1970s, the elder Afro Ecuadorians embarked on a mission to revive their African heritage and tradition by creating folklore schools and dance troops to teach and perform marimba music and dance. This not only helped to foster strong relationships between the younger and older generations but it also enable the younger generations to develop a strong understanding of their roots and culture. Today, marimba music and dance is used in combination with theatre to tell the story of the strong resilient history Afro Ecuadorians possess and also to help foster a sense of pride. Afro Ecuadorians have also used marimba as a means of communication with the African Diaspora. Their performances incorporate themes relatable to all Africans throughout the Diaspora, such as slavery, resistance and resilience. Marimba groups have also been able to partake in major national and international music festivals, where they have been able to display their rich cultural traditions to the rest of the world.

Marimba has become such an important part of Afro Ecuadorian life and life in the Esmeraldas in general, that major cities are plastered with large murals depicting marimba players being accompanied by dancers with the statements “Cultural identity is Part of a Positive Personality” and “Folklore is the Identity of a Cultivated People”. Despite having the ability to proudly represent and display their culture and identity through marimba dance and music, Afro Ecuadorians still struggle to overcome deeply rooted racism and as a result are marginalized by the dominant mestizo and criollo societies. Many live in poverty and are subjected to discrimination, thereby making it difficult for them to integrate with their mestiza and criollo counterparts. Despite these setbacks, Afro Ecuadorians are a strong resilient people. Their resilience continues to be manifested through the growing influence of marimba on the nation and their participation in the Ecuadorian National Football League."...


Pancocojams Editor: Most of these videos are narrated in Spanish.

Example #1: Bomba del Valle del Chota Ecuador

miecuador, Published on Oct 5, 2007

Esta es una representacion afro-ecuatoriana del hermoso valle caliente del Chota, que esta ubicado en plena cordillera andina del Ecuador
Google Translate:
This is an Afro-Ecuadorian representation of the beautiful hot valley of Chota, which is located in the middle of the Andean mountain range of Ecuador
Here's a comment from this video's discussion thread:
Hugo Hidalgo, 2015
"Es gran importancia compartir la música autóctona de nuestro Ecuador, por ello es necesario valorar y defender lo nuestro."
Google translate from Spanish to English:
"It is very important to share the indigenous music of our Ecuador, so it is necessary to value and defend what is ours."

Example #2: Ecuador: Afro-Ecuadorian Culture

ScradnBot, Published on Apr 1, 2013

This is a project I worked on during the 2012 Wabash Immersion Program to Ecuador. The work explores aspects of a culture few people in the United States know about - Afro-Ecuadorian culture. During our trip, we traveled to various Afro-Ecuadorian villages to learn more about the struggles that these people face within the country. I hope that this documentary sheds an optimistic, but meaningful light onto a culture much different from that of the United States.

Only a handheld camera was used for filming. Sound equipment was also limited.

Edited and Produced by: Bradley Wise
Music by: Bradley Wise
Special Thanks: Wabash College, Pontifica Universidad Católica del Ecuador, and the Communities and People who agreed to listen to my incoherent interview questions in Spanish!
Here are a few comments from this video's discussion thread:
TheAithWONDER, 2015
1. "Hi, my daughter is seriously considering a study abroad program there. Like any mother and in this day of so much Hate, I want to know how safe is it for a young woman of color to travel and study there?"

2. Black Lit. Black Hist., 2016
"+TheAithWONDER - I am black and I went to Quito while studying abroad. I met the nicest black people every and while I was there, there was a peaceful festival in the heart of Quito of black folks celebrating their black heritage. It was fantastic. I am planning on going back to Ecuador this year and traveling to Esmeraldas."

3. keep lefft, 2017
"blacks in the americas need to unite"

Example #4: Afroecuatorianos Historia

Oscar Moya. Published on Apr 8, 2014
Here's a comment exchange from this video's discussion thread:
Andres, 2017
"como estas hermano ecuatoriano Oscar, estoy un poco confundido , al inicio se manifiesta que la etnia negra llego a la zona de Esmeraldas por accidente ya que naufragaron barcos provenientes de panamá con destino Peru , pero después cerca del minuto 06:49 se indica que llegaron como cargamento de esclavos provenientes de Colombia , ayúdame con esa duda por favor ,.."
Google translate from Spanish to English
"As you are Ecuadorian brother Oscar, I am a little confused, at the beginning it is manifested that the black ethnic group arrived in the area of Esmeraldas by accident as ships from Panama shipwrecked to Peru, but after about 06:49 it was indicated that they arrived As a shipment of slaves from Colombia, help me with that doubt please,"

Black Prince, 2017
"Andres pues algunos llegaron antes y otros se escaparon. Los negros esmeraldeños jamas fueron esclavizados."
"Andres, some arrived before and others escaped. The Emerald Negroes were never enslaved."


Facil y Sencillo, Published on Mar 17, 2017

Pueblo Afroecuatoriano.
Se denomina pueblo afroecuatoriano a los descendientes del África que llegaron a América.
Etimológicamente el nombre de Afroecuatorianos proviene, de Afros=descendientes de África y ecuatorianos= nacidos en Ecuador.
Su presencia data, aproximadamente hace más de 500 años, aun cuando no existía la República del Ecuador como tal, y era conocida como la Real Audiencia de Quito, desde entonces han aportado con su cultura, arte y costumbres heredadas por sus ancestros africanos, tomando matices y adopciones de culturas americanas nativas, de esta manera ayudan a enriquecer la diversidad cultural del Ecuador, que lo caracterizan como país pluricultural.
El Pueblo Afro ecuatoriano, se encuentra ubicado en todas las provincias del país. Originalmente se asentó en Esmeraldas, Imbabura, Carchi y Loja; posteriormente, en los años sesenta, producto de la inmigración, su población habita en las provincias del Guayas, Pichincha, El Oro, Los Ríos, Manabí y el Oriente Ecuatoriano, en nuestra provincia tienen la importancia y relevancia dentro de nuestras actividades cotidianas.
Cristian Proaño
#GPSucumbios #GuidoVargas #MariaJaramilloMadrid
Google translate from Spanish to English
Afro-Ecuadorian people.
The descendants of Africa who came to America are called Afro-Ecuadorian people.
Etymologically the name of Afro-Ecuadorians comes from Afros = descendants of Africa and Ecuadorians = born in Ecuador.
Its presence dates back approximately 500 years ago, even though the Republic of Ecuador did not exist as such, and was known as the Royal Audience of Quito, since then they have contributed with their culture, art and customs inherited by their African ancestors, taking Nuances and adoptions of native American cultures, in this way help to enrich the cultural diversity of Ecuador, which characterize it as a pluricultural country.
The Afro Ecuadorian people, is located in all the provinces of the country. Originally settled in Esmeraldas, Imbabura, Carchi and Loja; later, in the sixties, product of immigration, its population lives in the provinces of Guayas, Pichincha, El Oro, Los Rios, Manabí and the Ecuadorian Oriente, in our province they have the importance and relevance in our daily activities.
Cristian Proaño"

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