Peru: What They Didn't Tell You About Afro-Peruvians

On June 8, the cultural event What they didn't tell you about Afro-Peruvians [es] took place at the National Afro-Peruvian Museum [es].  The event was organized by the Young Afro-Peruvian Association Makungu for Development [es], as part of the Afro-Peruvian culture month. The objective of the event was to make the Afro-Peruvian culture and history visible. According to the description of the event:

se celebra en el marco del día de la cultura afroperuana con el objetivo de presentar datos, hechos y personajes de la historia afroperuana que han impactado de una u otra manera en los diferentes ámbitos de desarrollo del país. Aportes invisibilizados por siglos, y que ahora los peruanos podremos conocer.

it is celebrated as part of the Afro-Peruvian culture day to present data, facts, and people of the Afro-Peruvian’s history who have played an important role in different aspects of the country’s development. Now Peruvians will be able to learn about contributions that have been ignored for centuries.
Lo que no te contaron de los Afroperuanos

What they didn't tell you about Afro-Peruvians

The event had several parts. The first one was a tour of the museum where different posters were displayed with photographs, data, and information about rather unknown events in the Afro-Peruvian history. These are some of them:

El 7 de junio de 1880, Alfredo Maldonado Arias (1864-1880), un niño afroperuano de 16 años, realizó un acto heroico en la Batalla de Arica. Fue él quien en los minutos finales de la Batalla, incendió deliberadamente el polvorín de las baterías de cañones y causó una explosión que mató a un número indeterminado de enemigos y a él mismo.

“Su suerte heroica no ha sido revelada por los historiadores oficiales e increíblemente no la incluyen entre los niños héroes peruanos de la guerra del guano y el salitre que lanzó Chile contra sus vecinos de Perú y Bolivia para apoderarse de sus yacimientos salitreros y guaneros”. Diario La Razón.

On June 7, 1880, Alfredo Maldonado Arias (1864-1880), a 16-year-old Afro-Peruvian boy did something heroic in the Arica Battle. During the final minutes of the battle, he deliberately set fire to the storehouse where the batteries of cannons were kept, causing an explosion that killed a great number of enemies and himself.

“His heroic story has not been revealed by official historians and it is hard to believe it is not among the stories of heroic Peruvian children of the War of the Pacific, in which Chile fought against Peru and Bolivia to get hold of nitrate and guano deposits.” La Razón Newspaper.

El protomédico José Manuel Valdez (1767-1843). Fue hijo de una esclava liberta y de un español. Ser médico estaba prohibido para los afroperuanos, pero debido a sus grandes condiciones, en 1896, el rey Carlos IV de España, le otorga la dispensa de color para ser admitido en la Universidad de San Marcos. Fue catedrático y protomédico de la Escuela de Medicina de San Fernando, además de teólogo, filósofo, escritor, firmante del Acta de la Independencia y parlamentario.

José Manuel Valdez (1767-1843) was a protophysician, son of a freed slave woman and a Spaniard. Afro-Peruvians were not allowed to be physicians, but due to his great talent, in 1896, he was granted the color dispensation by King Charles IV of Spain to be admitted to the University of San Marcos. He was a professor and a protophysician in the Faculty of Medicine “San Fernando”. He was also a theologian, philosopher, writer, signatory of the Declaration of Independence, and a Member of Parliament.

José Gil de Castro (1785-1841). Pintor reconocido, fue hijo de esclavos, pero nació libre. Es considerado el principal cronista visual durante el periodo de tránsito de la colonia a la república. En Chile una importante plaza lleva su nombre en reconocimiento a su labor patriótica, en Argentina también es muy conocido, sin embargo en nuestro país su aporte no es difundido.

José Gil de Castro (1785-1841) was a recognized painter. His parents were slaves, but he was born free. He is considered the most important visual storyteller during the transition period between the colony and the republic. An important square in Chile is named after him as recognition of his patriotism, and in Argentina he is quite popular. However, in our country his contribution is not well known.

After the tour, the hostess talked about how the idea for the event came up and other Afro-Peruvian matters. In this video I captured part of what was said:

After the presentation of the documentary Negro soy, made by Eshe Lewis, the guests of Honor were supposed to give their speeches, but this was not possible due to technical failures. For this reason, after halfway through the video, the guests were allowed to address the public. Here we can watch a trailer of the documentary:

As for the guests, the first one to talk was Mr. Augusto Zavala, head of the museum. Then, Néstor Valdivia, associate researcher of GRADE (Group for the Analysis of Development) and a specialist in discrimination and exclusion of the indigenous and Afro-Peruvian population, commented and reflected on the Afro-Peruvian contribution, which is little known and has not been researched in depth. Here is a track with most of his comments and the information he presented.

 Néstor Valdivia and some information about the Afro-Peruvian culture and history[es] by Juan Arellano 6 [es].

After that, it was the turn of Susana Matute, professor at San Martin de Porres University (USMP) and member of the Ethnic Development Center (CEDET). She discussed the problems of being a black person in Peru. Here is an excerpt of her comments and observations.

 Susana Matute on being an Afro-Peruvian [es] by Juan Arellano 6 [es]

Later, there was a social gathering where people could taste some delicious hors d’oeuvres and enjoy music from Karolinativa [es]. You can watch more videos from the event here [es], here [es], and here [es].

Related posts:

Peru: The Festival of the Peruvian Cajon
Peru: Afro-Peruvian Christmas Music
Peru: The Preference for Afro-Peruvians at Funeral Services

Original post [es] published in Juan Arellano's personal blog.

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