Video: Danza de los Diablos, African Roots in Mexico, El Tule Guelaguetza 2018

Danza de los Diablos is connected with the Afro-Mestizo history of Oaxaca’s Costa Chica, the Pacific coast region between Puerto Escondido and Acapulco, Guerrero. Now referred to as Mexico’s Third Root, people of African descent are an integral part of what it means to be Mexican, more than only the mix of Europeans and AmerIndians. With the conquest of Mexico, Spanish brought African slaves here in the 16th century to work sugar cane fields, mines and agriculture. Most were men and married indigenous women. Race and class was far more permeable in Mexico than in the United States.

Only recently have academics and cultural anthropologists begun to uncover and investigate the importance of African roots in Mexican culture.

Dressed as the devil with mask, horns and horsehair, African roots

The dance and its music, with its stomping and whirling, are said to symbolize the breaking from the repression of slave owners and the church. The woman in the dance represents the mixing of races. She carries a white doll. Traditionally, the dance is performed on November 1 during Day of the Dead.

White mask, dark skin, white baby, symbol of Afro-Mestizo roots

Oaxaca Costa Chica Textile Study Tour, January 11-21, 2019–Spaces Open

Behind the mask, a beautiful countenance

Today, the dance is a testimony to Oaxaca’s rich diversity and deepening respect for her roots.

One of the pleasures I have from writing this blog is the research I do to investigate the culture and history of Oaxaca and Mexico. When I was at the Costa Chica in the last two years, I became more aware of African slave roots as as I talked with cultural anthropologists and locals.

A First Person Commentary

About Afro-Mexicans

Much more has been written about the African experience on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, at the port of Veracruz and south. The Son Jarocho music of Mexico, Cuba and the Caribbean are rooted in Africa, as is the donkey jawbone and drum percussion instruments. There is still a lot to learn.


4 responses to “Video: Danza de los Diablos, African Roots in Mexico, El Tule Guelaguetza 2018

  1. I returned to Charco Redondo to visit my Afro Mexican friends and family in January. Though I am African American, I love finding my sisters and brothers in Latin America. Though 97% of the African slave trade went to the Latino countries, the descendants are much less visible than in English speaking Americas.

    • Hi Donzetta. Thank you for commenting and sharing. Your observations are important. I would assume that because of more and easier assimilation in Mexico, Africans are not as “visible.” They represent only 1% of the population, so perhaps their voice is not paid attention to. They have lived in remote areas and the government doesn’t much care. And because they aren’t indigenous, they receive no special support. Only recently have activists, anthropologists and historians begin to investigate and publis about The contributions Africans made/make to the Mexican culture we call mestizo. Would love to hear more from you and your experiences in Mexico. Norma

  2. So interesting. When we were on Oaxaca City for Dia De Los Muertos, we saw a group of young men with masks with long hair (like the ones in this dance) walking down the street. They were so intriguing and I had wondered what the influence was . So very fascinating.

Leave a Reply to Donzetta Seals Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *