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Afro-Paraguayan Paraguay
Total population
1% of the Paraguayan population.
Regions with significant populations
Central Department, Paraguari Department and Emboscada
Related ethnic groups
Afro-Latin American, African people

Afro-Paraguayan are Paraguayans of African descent. They can be found in Camba Cua outside Asuncion; Kamba Kokue outside Paraguari, and the city of Emboscada.[citation needed] Currently, the Afro-Paraguayan population accounts for 1% of the total population.


The first African slaves arrived at Paraguay in 1556.[1] The majority of the slaves were of Nigerian and Angolan origin, like other black people from any South American country. Thus, according to Argentine historian José Ignacio Telesca, the slaves that entered legally came from the esclavistas ports of Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Córdoba, while those that entered illegally came from Brazil. Thus, the Spanish explorer Pedro de Mendoza - who reached the Rio de Plata in the 16th century and was appointed its viceroy - brought enslaved Africans to Paraguay to settle them in that place. According to the aforementioned Telesca, more than 4% of the population were slaves in colonial times, keeping the same percentage in the 19th century after independence.[2] However, according to the Kamba Cuá "Afro Paraguayan Association", in 1782, the black population represented 11.2 percent of the total population of the then Province of Paraguay.[1]

This population continued to increase, as already in 1811, according to Telesca, half of the Paraguayan population was of African descent,[3] whether slave or free. So, several towns like Aregua, Emboscada (in English: "Ambush"), and Guarambare were established as black communities.[4]

Also, with the arrival of Artigas' also arrived, curiously, people of Kamba ethnicity, a Kenyan ethnic group, from Uruguay, who settled in Paraguay in the 1820s.[5] They arrived in a regiment of 250 spearmen, men and women, who accompanied General Jose Gervasio Artigas, the revolutionary leader of the now Uruguay, in his exile in Paraguay.[1] The Kamba Cua were dispossessed of their land by General Higinio Morinigo in the 1940s. Of his 100 hectares they stayed with 3 hectares.[6]


Although according official estimates, the Afro-Paraguayan population accounts for 2% of the total population, the Afro Paraguayan Association Kamba Cuá, supported by the Department of Statistics, Surveys and Censuses (Dgeec) and the U.S. and state IAF, estimated the number of Afro-Paraguayan people at only 8,013, equivalent to 0.13 percent of the 6.1 million inhabitants of Paraguay.[1] This census indicates specifically that there are 422 people in Kamba Cua, 385 people in Kamba Kokué, and more than 7,000 people in Emboscada: 2,686 in urban areas and 4,524 in rural areas and 58% of the total population are of African descent.[7] So, of the total of African descent, 5.6 percent live in Kamba Cuá, 4,9 percent in Kamba Kokue and 89.5 percent in Emboscada.[1]

The census also shows that they are virtually matched for sex and they have a predominantly young population: 63% at that time were under 30 years old. All those of African descent speak Guarani, like the rest of the Paraguayans. The illiteracy rate stands at 7.4%, and of that percentage, 58% are women. The number of people who have come to attend the first through to sixth grade accounted for 60% and those who have reached university level only 1%.

Note that the results are incomplete, since the census did not reach all residents, especially in Emboscada; in addition, some residents surveyed did not identify themselves as Afro apart from other concentrations of African descent Paraguayan and individuals of African descent throughout the country that were not included in the census.[7]

As already mentioned, there are three communities of Afro-Paraguayan: the Kamba Cuá, in the Central Department (outside Asuncion), Kamba Kokue, meaning "chacra de negros" (farm of blacks) in Guarani language, and is situated in the Paraguarí Department, and Emboscada, in the Cordillera Department. The three communities are in the eastern region. The origins of these settlements dates back to the Spanish colonial period.

Kamba Cuá is the place having the most important Afro Paraguayan community. This place, in the Central Department, is populated by so-called Artigas Cue -or "black of Kamba Cuá"-, which are descended from the Kamba people (a Kenyan ethnic group[5]). They arrived in Paraguay as members of a regiment of 250 spearmen, men and women, who accompanied General Jose Gervasio Artigas, the independence´s leading revolutionary of the Eastern Band (the current Uruguay) in his exile in Paraguay in 1820. After having arrived in Asunción, they settled in the Campamento Loma area, practising dairy and secondary agriculture. However, in the 1940s, they were dispossessed of their land by General Higinio Morinigo. Of his 100 hectares they stayed with 3 hectares.[6] However, the community survived, kept his chapel and dances, created a football club ("Jan Six-ro") and one school of drum and dance for children. His ballet is the only Afro-Paraguayan expression, and premiered at the Folk Festival peach "Uruguay Yi sings in" 1992, where it won the "Golden charrúa". Their original lands at Campamento Loma remained vacant, and Kamba Cuá recently occupied them and planted manioc, but by the government decision of Was mosy (postStroessner), were accused of bring "terrorists" and were beaten and evicted.

Today, according official estimates, about 300 families (between 1,200 and 2,500 people) live in Kumba Cuá.[4] However, according censuses of the Afro Paraguayan Association Kamba Cuá, this community consists of only 422 people.[7] Religion is an integral part of daily life. Currently they are Catholic. His saint is San Benito of Palermo and King San Baltazar, who came from Uruguay. Their main festival is celebrated on 6 January each year at the community's social club named after the patron saint. The important ballet artistic expressions of the Kamba Kua and culinary arts of this community have been maintained for nearly 180 years. Their oral tradition recalls that many of them participated and died in the defensive war against the Triple Alliance (1865–69), which destroyed Paraguay. They keep memories of their history, passed down from generation to generation, hold dances like "candombe", dedicated to San Baltasar, and drumming.[4] So, this community is the best known of African descent in Paraguay for having preserved their identity and culture, promoted through its traditional festivals.[6]

Emboscada (in Spanish: "Ambush"), a city that now has about 14,000 inhabitants, was founded in 1740 under the name of "Emboscada de Pardos libres "(Free Pardos ambush), because it was a point of frequent ambushes and because early settlers were 500 brown (black and mestizos) freedmen.

Kamba Kokue, in the Paraguarí Department, was also founded by black communities, from ranches of slaves of the religious missionaries of the Catholic Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuit order.[1] Also towns or villages as Aregua, Emboscada, and Guarambaré were established as black communities.[6]

Year of African descent[edit]

The United Nations declared 2011 the International Year of People of African Descent in order to strengthen national policies and international cooperation for the benefit of this group to achieve, in theory, the satisfaction of all their rights, their participation and integration in all political, economic, social and cultural aspects of society, and promote greater understanding and respect for the diverse heritage and culture of these people.

In this context in Paraguay has been developing the tour of a show called "Negritud de colores" (Negritude Colors) that runs different cities. It is a show of Afro-Latin American music and dance scene that rises to 25 artists to develop a wide repertoire of songs, chants and dances with rescued African roots of this continent. The Paraguayan singer Mariví Vargas, the team of musicians and a group of drummers and dancers Kamba Cua led by Lazaro Medina offer a show that aims to bring African culture and make visible the collective African descent.

Showing and themes from Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Mexico and Cuba and of course of Paraguay, with the presentation of the galloping "San Baltasar" and "Kamba la Merce," a rich description of the dances related popular culture afroparaguaya, plus rhythms Kamba Cua group like-Pitiki Guarimba pitiki and gallops.[7]

Notable Afro-Paraguayans[edit]

  • Lázaro Medina, Director of the Ballet Camba Cua
  • José Carlos Medina, General Secretary of the Kamba Kuá (“black people’s hollow,” or “cave,” in Guaraní) Afro-Paraguayan Association.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Noticias: La otra historia (in Spanish: News: The other story)
  2. ^ Historia de esclavos en el Paraguay (in Spanish: History of slaves in Paraguay)
  3. ^ Ultima hora: "En 1811, la mitad de la población paraguaya era afrodescendiente". Retrieved December 3, 2012. written by Cristian Cantero. Editorial Última Hora
  4. ^ a b c Día y noche: Arte y cultura sin frontera: La Comunidad Afro paraguaya Kamba Kua Archived September 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine (in Spanish: Day and night: Art and culture without borders: the Kamba Kua Afro Paraguayan Community).
  5. ^ a b Info Zuque. com. Se los llama Kamba Kua (in Spanish: They are call Kamba Kua)
  6. ^ a b c d La comunidad Afro Paraguaya Kamba Kua Archived April 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine (the Afro-Paraguayan community Kamba Kua
  7. ^ a b c d Otra América: comunidades afroparaguayas condenadas a no existir (in Spanish: Another America: communities afroparaguayas sentenced to absence)