Afro-Uruguayans Celebrate Roots
MONTEVIDEO – Uruguayans celebrated the African roots of their urban culture with drums and colorful costumes over the weekend in a “candome” parade through the Montevideo neighborhood where the large tenements that for decades were the center of the black community were razed by the military dictatorship in the 1970s.
Almost two months ahead of the Montevideo carnival rooted in European traditions, the “llamadas parade” leads dancing crowds to the site of an older tenement where the Afro-Uruguayan Cultural Center is now located.
“This parade was born nine years ago when Congress passed the Candome, Afro-Uruguayan Culture and Race Equality Act,” Elizabet Suarez, the center’s secretary-general, told Efe.
Barrio Sur and Palermo, the two traditional black neighborhoods on Montevideo’s south side, are the places where candombe thrives with “tamboriles” (drums) of different sizes and “voices,” and black “nations” that trace their cultural roots to different African regions scourged by the slave trade.