A vibrant group of Afro-Mexican women living in the southern state of Oaxaca, the same region who up until 2015 struggled to be legally recognized by the Mexican government, are dancing fervently to reconnect with their African roots. The group, presumably named after Obatala, child of god and sculptor of mankind in Yoruba, used the Internet as their primary source of research.
“All the dancers are from Africa’s northeast region,” said lead dancer Anai Herrera, who also noted YouTube videos helped them learned their cultural moves. “We chose this area because after researching on the Internet, we realized that’s where the slaves that came to our town came from. Our dance troupe did the research and we learned those dances.”
The women also travel and perform throughout the region, determined to spread awareness of an identity historically disallowed from their narratives. “We keep dancing because we want people to know our culture,” Herrera added. “Our dancing is an open invitation for young people to join us. We this we want to consolidate our own culture, our own identity as black people.”