Exploring Afro-Mexican Villages in Oaxaca

    My quest to visit the Afro-Mexican community began with a international flight, four overnight buses, one pickup truck taxi, a riverboat and a tractor lift that dropped me off on a dirt road in a village named Collantes. The village is tucked away in the heartbeat of the Mexican state of Oaxaca and is home to descendants of African slaves from Sudan, French Guiana and Congo. Collantes is one of the twelve municipalities that is populated by Afro-Mexican communities in the area. Due to the treacherous tropical landscape of the Costa Chica region, Afro-Mexicans have for centuries been left isolated by mainstream Mexico. In the 1990’s Afro-Mexicans existence was officially recognized by the Mexican government including Africa as Mexico’s “third root”. However, life for Afro-Mexicans is difficult as they are some of the poorest in nation. My curiosity to explore the community spawned from the lack of information that I found on them while doing research. I thought that it was bizarre, that most native Mexicans whom I spoke with knew little about the Afro-Mexican community. Whenever I asked about the contemporary life of Afro-Mexicans many reverted to a historical perspective or admitted that they had never seen one. The Minority Rights Group estimates that Afro-Mexicans make up 474,000 to 9 million of the entire Mexican population.  With the lack of upfront information, I became skeptical if a large community would still be alive.  Therefore I went to see for myself if the essence of Africa still lingered in the presence of everyday life. The photo essay below are pictures from Afro-Mexican Communities in Collantes and Jose Maria Morelos.