A play referencing Afro-descendant tribal people reaches more than 2,000 schoolchildren in Arica


“Margarita and the geographies of her hair” is the name of the show that was presented in about thirty schools, as part of the project “Training and cultural mediations to approach and learn from the Afro-descendant culture in Públicas de Arica schools” , financed by the Regional Government and the Regional Council of Arica and Parinacota, implemented by the NGO Oro Negro and the Fundación Rescatando Sueños.

The project was called “Abayomi” and before the presentation of the works, it incorporated the training of teachers, teachers and educational assistants on the history, dance and music of the Chilean Afro-descendent tribal people and how to mediate educational resources, from the as each of the 30 participating institutions of the Chinchorro Local Public Education Service will also receive 150 educational resources from the Foundation’s Afro-descendant line, such as books, board games and kamishibai (paper theatre).

The show derives from the conversation between Margarita and her grandmother, who recounts her different experiences as Afro and Afro-descendant in the country, such as the arrival in the Azapa valley, the creation of the cueca by “Las Petorquinas” in Valparaíso and the cruel situation that gave its name to “La laguna de los negros” in Concepción.

It presents itself with sets that change according to the moment being told, and presents itself with a team of six people, including dancers, actors and musical performers, who with their instruments propitiate the atmosphere that leads the spectators through different emotions. The last presentation will be held as part of the “Month of African Heritage in Chile”, on Friday 2 December, at 19:00, in the amphitheater of the former Customs of Arica, open to the public, also with the collaboration of the Education Seremi and the Municipality of Arica.

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“I found it wonderful, very beautiful what they give to children. This is a treasure that will hopefully reach every child in every school in Arica and hopefully across the country. I congratulate you, I thank you because you are telling part of our story, in this case part of my family, so I am proud to hear and see that the stories my grandmother told me are here in a beautiful work that the children they worship with music, with puppets, with colors,” said the 2nd grade B teacher of the Ricardo Silva Arriagada school, Luisa Ayca Salas, who created the first African dance school in the country.

The work was presented in establishments in the city center and also in the valleys of Lluta and Azapa. The director of the “Pampa Algodonal” school, Ema Vásquez Acuña, stressed that the content is important “for our students to become familiar with what Afro culture is, because this is also a historical area”, since Africans and Afro- descendants grew sugar cane and cotton. In fact, the establishment is trying to reforest and reclaim Pampa Algodonal’s identity, so “this work helps us reinforce what we want to pass on to our children,” she said.

“I find the project very relevant to what our region is. We have so many children whose ancestors come from this culture, so that’s very important. I thank Fundación Rescatando Sueños for giving these children the opportunity to find their roots, so Abayomi at 7. The participatory children loved the music. I think everything was also very consistent with their level,” said Haralda Riquelme Jaramillo, a consultant at the Regimiento Rancagua school.

The History and Geography teacher of the Eduardo Frei Montalba Integrated College, Débora Izuck Castro, participated in the formation of the project, so that those contents served to incorporate them into the area of ​​training and citizen participation focused on the issue of rights and diversity.

“Luckily I had the opportunity to participate in the training that was done a couple of weeks ago here in Arica, so, for one as a teacher it is an enriching perspective that this content gives and obviously for the children it is also a contribution, they are working with these issues.We have also done an entry in History and we realize that although they live in a city where roots and heritage are ever present, there are obviously parts of history that they are unaware of, so for us it is very important, very precious that this can get to the classroom,” he stressed after watching the show with about a hundred schoolchildren.

Paola Muñoz Sánchez, head of the Technical Pedagogical Unit of the Ignacio Carrera Pinto School, also appreciated the work and its contents.

“I found it wonderful, because it wasn’t just one story, it was several stories in itself. I also found the production beautiful, i.e. how they presented it, all the techniques they used, I found it fantastic. Very funny, the music also gives it another color,” he said.

The initiative was considered a milestone at the national level, as it provides the tools for institutions to carry out the curricular inclusion of this subject in their institutions, thus complying with article 4 of law 21.151, which indicates that the national education system ” will seek to contemplate a programmatic unit that allows students to have an adequate knowledge of the history, language and culture of Afro-descendants and to promote their artistic and cultural expressions from the pre-school, basic, middle and university levels.

Marta Salgado Henríquez, president of the Oro Negro NGO, indicated that the work with Rescatando Sueños began more than four years ago and that the task “is materialized in this program”. Considering that Afro-Chileans are present throughout the national territory, “it is very important to continue this work that we are starting today with the Abayomi program in this region, to continue it in other regions,” he said, adding that this “is a door opener ” to what we dreamed 22 years ago and what it means to be in the Chilean school curriculum to talk about Chileans of African descent”.

The director of the Foundation, Elizabeth Gallegos Araya, indicated that the reception of the work carried out was very pleasant, since the teachers who took part in the training “were very receptive both to the contents and to the methodologies used and to the different strategies provided in so that they can mediate the pedagogical resources of Rescatando Sueños that the project allows them to have in their establishment”.

Regarding the show, he said that “it is very nice to see the commitment of the leaders to facilitate spaces, and that boys and girls can see a part of the invisible national history represented and recognize in their skin, in their hair, the identity with more love, with the pride that his ancestry deserves”.

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