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The African-Andean Crescent Moon
We know about the people who went down the range, but what do we know about the people who came in like slave?

By Nelson Peñaherrera / FACTORTIERRA.NET. Photos by Piura’s Microcinemas Network. Cambia a español.



YAPATERA, Peru –They became crucial part of our identity as a country and as a continent. The first African communities commanded to migrate to Peru’s Viceroyalty settled mainly at the coast where they adapted better.

In current Piura State, those communities brought as slaves initially spotted in Suipirá (pronounce “Sweepeera”) barracks, Historia de Tambogrande’s Historian Miguel Arturo Seminario pointed out. There are not remaining evidences of those camps located nearby Las Lomas City actual downtown (Piura County) yet, except a neighborhood named like this.

According to African-Peruvian Culture House of Yapatera’s (Morropon County) director Abelardo Alzamora, traffic was made from Paita seaport as well as Ayabaca and Huancabamba highlands, between 16th and 19th centuries
inclusive, judging exchange notes used by senior farmers for dealing about these people, like merchandise acquired in Atlantic and Caribbean seaports mainly.


Every farm had its slaves group,” he remembers.

The most came from Africa coasts and Madagascar Island. As a evidence, mangaches (pronounce “manga-ches”), the traditional fellas at North of actual Piura City historical downtown (what holds quite few history) could be named because of Madagascan people, malgache (pronounce “malga-che”) in Spanish.

Across actual Piura State, African people adapted better to coas-range transitional zone, working forced on agriculture, cattle, and leather & soap manufacturing, as enrique López Albújar portraits on Matalaché novel.

The most important African-descendant communities could be summoned in former farms where today Las Lomas, Tambogrande, Malingas, Paccha (pronounce “Packcha”), Yapatera, La Matanza and Morropon towns are located.

If somebody puts down those places on a map and trace a line for unite all them, will see that a kind of curve gets formed surrounding Piura’s Andean low slopes.
If that projects a inner influence zone, we will see a a kind of crescent moon gets formed. The essence of Piura’s culture concentrates there – African-Andean community. .


(However, this does not discard another locations outside this area in the rest of Chira and Piura Valleys.)



A peculiar syncreticism
During 20th century’s first half, African-descendant communities began to share space and activities with Piura’s highlands migrants who had decided to live in all towns of crescent moon’s influence zone because of irrigation projects as San Lorenzo’s, or simply to improve their life standards.

Let’s join Tallán (pronounce “Tahjan”) people who lived in that zone before Spaniards arrived in 1532 A.D.

Andean people were skillful on cloth, stone and metals handicraft, the African with wood sculpture, the Tallan with mud and metals. Their common issue is a large experience in agriculture, architecture, music and gastronomy, which fusion is one of the most recent icons of Peruvian identity.

Eventually, History claimed about Andean and Tallan people, but what did happen to African people?

According to Abelardo Alzamora, Peru’s Constitution does not make visible his ancestors yet, as it does make to Andean and Amazonic people what are called originals.

As African-Peruvian ccommunity could not be named as original people by definition (they born in Africa), Alzamora feels it is necessary to deserve them an equitative status because of their contribution to national cultural and political tradition. There is already a lobby started by African-Peruvian National Coordinator, without results yet.

In Yapatera’s House of Culture what Alzamora directs, it is still spossible to see the stocks that senior farmers used to torture black slaves. All the space has remnants of that heritage which it is not only carried in skin tone but inside the heart, and that is one of the also-writer’s fights, a fight what looks for superating poverty and invisibility, despite Regional Government of Piura has pased a rule against all types of discrimination.

Racism and discrimination came along,” Alzamora sentences, and it outbreaks in poor services of education, health and urbanism for Yapatera and rrural towns surrounding it. “We need public policies benefitting African-descendant people,” he adds.

In Yapatera, once district capital before nearby Chulucanas got important, is the largest African-Peruvian community, he emphasizes.



On wide screen
Yapatera-based Fernando Barranzuela is an old poet and cultural promotor, who told me once a decade and a half ago, some Suipirá’s slaves came from Cumaná, Venezuela, and they had developed impro techniques with large verses. As they made them so common in that group, those performances were called cumananas.

Very few people wwent in depth about their roots as Grammy-winner and former Peru’s Minister of Culture Susana Baca, who published Fire and Water in 1992, a book plus a an audio CD going in retrospective looking inside for those origins.

Barranzuela is spending his still remaining energy in keeping cumanana alive, achieving to ‘graduate’ around 50 people with tenths impro skils.

And if you need a town’s spoken historical vademecum, you gotta meet him as Nobel Award of Litterature’s winner Mario Vargas Llosa made it.

His niece, the teacher Edadil Barranzuela fights by her side in the classrooms for the next generations to be proud of their African ancestors and to practice gender equity. But her dificulty is she teaches Maths, so how may she include the topics?

When I speak about statistics or sets, I take advantage of motivations and examples to include the issue because that’s not my subject, and I also use Tutorial Mentorship hours,” she tells.

Mrs Barranzuela is a teacher of Yapater’as José Pintado Berrú high school, where that almost-subliminal work seems to have some goals: more than five years ago, approximately 3 of every 20 female teenagers left classrooms because they fell in love with older men, who became them mothers. Today, she estimates desertion reduced to 1 of every 20 ones.

Alzamora and the Barranzuelas are the stars of Toward a new African Horizon in Yapatera documentary, produced by Piura’s Microcinemas Network, a Chaski Comunicación affiliate, to be premiered this week. Feature’s objective is helping those efforts not to vanish anonymously, forgotten, network’s coordinator in the state (and African-descendant too) Segundo Chávez argues.

The legacy is out there, but as Abelardo Alzamora says, “the university and the academy ignore it” although they are beginning to research it.

We are still babies in intercultural education,” he adds.

Thus, when may we insuflate madurity to almost ahlf-a-century of history in Piura? The challenge seems to be right there.

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