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HomeU.S.ACelebrating the Black Jesus – a photograph essay

Celebrating the Black Jesus – a photograph essay

The Messiah was born in February. Quinamayó’s ancestors, black individuals kidnapped from Africa, weren’t allowed to have a good time Christmas in December. That was an unique month for the homeowners of the haciendas. That’s the reason the Quinamayó ancestors determined to have a good time their very own festivities 45 days after the date dictated by the Catholic church, the identical time that the Virgin Mary saved her weight loss plan as soon as she gave delivery.

Detail of a baby in a wooden container, which will be used by ‘Ecos del Tambor’ (Echoes of the drum) for its presentation in Quinamayó
A rosary with religious symbols and a tabor and flute
Sheryl Nicole Gómez, nine, as the Virgin Mary

  • Clockwise from high left: a lady raises the determine of the Black Child Jesus; a child in a picket container earlier than its presentation in festivities; Sheryl Nicole Gómez, 9, because the Virgin Mary; a rosary with spiritual symbols and a tabor and flute

It’s an act of cultural and racial resistance that has been preserved for greater than 170 years by the inhabitants of the city, situated within the south of the division of Valle del Cauca. When the celebration arrives, the youngsters play biblical characters from the New Testomony, the matronas – feminine leaders – costume of their conventional costumes and virtually the complete city dances the juga, a musical style from Quinamayó.

The most important Christmas procession in Quinamayó is known as the The Road to Bethlehem, led by two children who dress up as Mary and Joseph, while three young people play the role of godparents of the Black Baby Jesus.

  • Above: a very powerful Christmas procession in Quinamayó is called the The Highway to Bethlehem, led by two youngsters who costume up as Mary and Joseph, whereas three younger individuals play the position of godparents of the Black Child Jesus. Proper: a folkloric group dances round a bonfire shaped by torches within the city’s principal sq.

A folkloric group dances around a bonfire formed by torches in the town’s main square
Two men dance to the rhythm of the Juga
Heiber Fajardo enjoys the fireworks that close the Quinamayó festivities

  • Above left: males dance to the Juga, a local rhythm that makes use of devices such because the saxophone, tuba, clarinet, trumpet and drums. Above proper: Heiber Fajardo enjoys the fireworks that shut the Quinamayó festivities

Mirna Rodríguez, a matrona and singer, says: “They’re youngsters of the group who costume as angels, who give the ceremony earlier than the arrival of God on Earth; as troopers, who’re those who guard his method; as Mary and Joseph; because the Star of Bethlehem, performed by a woman who marks the trail to observe, and the godfather and the 2 godmothers, who carry the basket the place the Black Child Jesus rests.”

In Quinamayó a pure syncretism is lived. The satisfaction for its African roots shouldn’t be in battle with the Catholic fervour of a few of its inhabitants. They worship spiritual figures with black faces, to really feel recognized.

Daniela Hurtado practices the violin in the Sixto María Rojas school before starting her performance.

  • Above: Daniela Hurtado practices the violin within the Sixto María Rojas college earlier than beginning her efficiency. Proper: Melissa Mosquera, a consultant of the Sixto María Rojas college, says: “I wish to struggle for my group, to protect our racial and cultural id.” Far proper: Sarahy Andrea Peña is likely one of the godmothers of the Black Child Jesus.

Melissa Mosquera, representative of the Sixto María Rojas school, says “I want to fight for my community, to preserve our racial and cultural identity”
Sarahy Andrea Peña, 17, is one of the godmothers of the Black Baby Jesus.

For Wilmer Izajar, a trainer of Cathedra Afro on the village college, “having black pores and skin shouldn’t be sufficient to recognise oneself as afro. You should return to your historical past and customs.” Izajar says Quinamayó was born as a palenque, a Colombian expression to seek advice from communities descended from enslaved individuals who fled the haciendas.

“After leaving the Hacienda Japio, they went down the Quinamayó River. And that’s the reason the identify of this city, due to that river that helped them attain freedom,” remembers Wilmer Fernando Izajar, a trainer on the Sixto María Rojas Establishment.

Alicia Bermúdez Carabalí, 75, has been one of the main cultural leaders during Christmas in past years.
Óscar Zamora, 35, is a member of Ecos del Tambor (Echoes of the drum), from the neighbouring community of Robles.
Isabella Sandoval wears a costume made to commemorate Afro-Colombian Day

  • High: Alicia Bermúdez Carabalí, 75, has been one of many principal cultural leaders throughout Christmas in previous years. “Nevertheless, I’m nonetheless a really fervent Catholic and respectful of my afro roots,” she says. Above left: Óscar Zamora, a member of Ecos del Tambor (Echoes of the drum), from the neighbouring group of Robles. Above proper: Isabella Sandoval wears a fancy dress made to commemorate Afro-Colombian Day.

What was as soon as a logo of repression is right this moment reinterpreted as an act of resistance and freedom. That is the case of the juga, which isn’t solely a musical style performed principally by wind devices, but in addition a dance carried out with shuffling toes. It’s a direct reference to how individuals with chains on their ankles needed to stroll, however the juga turns it into dance steps, that are carried out at all types of events.

People dance to the rhythm of the juga in the main square of Quinamayó
Two members of ‘Ecos del Tambor’ (Echoes of the drum), from the municipality of Robles, pose for a portrait.
A girl dressed as the Star of Bethlehem watches the sunset in Quinamayó.
Six-year-old Emelyn Andrea Belalcázar’s dress for Afro-Colombian Day in Quinamayó.

“Possibly younger individuals are dropping a little bit of that historical past and that’s why we don’t cease educating it in class,” Izajar says. Based on residents over 60 years previous, Christmas events are now not as huge as they was, as a result of now they rely totally on public sources from the state, and there are years by which the festivities don’t handle to happen, as occurred in 2022 due to the third Covid peak.

In any case, Quinamayó continues to be a reference for the Afro-Colombian id within the south of the nation. In a city that appears frozen in time, with cobblestone streets and ranch-like homes, cultural and non secular expressions don’t die, even within the youthful generations.

Bocachicos hang from a fence in front of a house in Quinamayó.
Detail of the facade of a house in Quinamayó.
A painting of the Holy Family hangs in front of one of the oldest houses in Quinamayó
Main street, one of the few paved roads in Quinamayó

I imagine this ongoing mission, which I began in 2019, is essential right this moment, as a result of Colombia is a racist nation. We grew up underneath the concept of “enhancing the race”, as if individuals with African roots had been a inhabitants that needed to be fastened. And right this moment, racism manifests itself in discriminatory feedback on the street or on social networks. The inhabitants of Quinamayó struggle in opposition to that by manifesting a syncretism that invitations us to replicate on our racial and cultural range in Colombia.


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