African Andeans 


This page of the web site is devoted mostly to African Peruvian ethnicity.  Much of our information about this ethnic group comes from the book No Longer Visible: African-Latin Americans Today.  For more details refer to the Bibliography section of this web site.

African Peruvians, as it is used in anthropological studies and research, usually refers to dark-skinned people living in Peru with some African ancestry.  However, it is important to note that these people can be light, or dark skinned with no connections to Africa at all.  Black Africans exist, and have existed in much of South America even before colonization began there in the sixteenth century.  Peruvians of African decent number from an estimated 1.42.2 million, which is about 610 percent of the national population of Peru (Africans Today 271).

In doing research on this ethnic group, many myths that people hold to be true about African Peruvians are proved false.  These truths are the foundations leading to the understanding of African Peruvians and African Andeans as a whole.  These myths are written by no means to insult or diminish the reader, but they do yield interesting truths.
 
 

Myth: African Peruvians first came to South America as Slaves.

Truth: Some African Peruvians traveled with the Spanish as fellow soldiers, and some acted as translators between other Africans and the Spanish conquerors of the Andes (271).  Some people were African slaves, but some were very Europeanized, having served and labored in Spain and other parts of the Americas.

Myth: The indigenous people of the Andes viewed Africans as friends, seeing that they were controlled by the Spanish Europeans.

Truth: Although African Peruvians had a different skin color, they were seen as invaders, equal to white people; both took over the land and criticized the indigenous gods (272).

Myth: African Peruvians probably were all around outcasts in the colonial society of the Andes.  They had a very distinct culture of their own already.

Truth: Yes, some Africans came to Peru as slaves bringing African culture with them, but some Africans were also Europeanized.  Europeanized does not mean that Africans were equal to the Spanish.  This just means that some Africans had spent a longer time under Spanish rule than other Africans living in Peru.  Europeanized Africans as well as newly arrived African slaves eventually assimilated into colonial society, integrated their own culture into indigenous and Spanish cultures (274).

Myth: African Peruvian Women made contributions in civil rights, women's rights, and abolitionists movements only.

Truth: Just by being themselves, women made contributions in dance, music, and food preparation.  The cooking skills that African women had learned in their villages had great appeal in the Americas.  African women cooked for their masters and sold food items at local markets (274).  African women may not have been given credit, but their skills are a basic part of Peruvian quisine even today.