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An Afro-Ecuadorian is a member of a group in Ecuadormarker who are descendants of black African slaves brought by the Spanish during their conquest of Ecuador from the Incas. They make up 8% of Ecuador's population.

Ecuador has a population of about 1,120,000 descendants from African people. The Afro-Ecuadorian culture is found primarily in the country's northwest coastal region. Africans form a majority (70%) in the province of Esmeraldas and the Valle del Chotamarker in the Imbabura Province. They can be also found in Quitomarker and Guayaquilmarker. Their best known cultural influence known outside of Ecuador is a distinctive kind of marimba music.

In 1560, the third Hipis slaves reached Ecuador in Quito when a slave ship heading to Peru was stranded off the Ecuadorian coast. The slaves escaped and established maroon settlements in Esmeraldas, which became a safe haven as many slaves either escaped to there or were forced to live there. Eventually, they started moving from their traditional homeland and were settling everywhere in Ecuador.

Racism deeply ingrained from the Spanish colonial era is still found; Afro-Ecuadorians are strongly discriminated against by the mestizo and criollo populations. Poverty is rampant amongst them. Many Afro-Ecuadorians have participated in sports, for instance playing with the Ecuadorian national football team.

Afro-Ecuadorians live all over the country but there are two places of historic presence which are Esmeraldas province and the Chota Valleymarker in Imbabura province. There is a strong presence in Quitomarker and Guayaquilmarker which have neighborhoods with high afro-Ecuadorian populations and also Ibarramarker.


Afro-Ecuadorian culture could be analysed by considering the two main centers of historical presence. One is the province of Esmeraldas and the other is the Chota Valleymarker.

Marimba music comes from Esmeraldas and is called this due to the prominent use of marimbas along with drums and other instruments specific to this region such as the bombo, the cununo and the wasa. Sometimes this music is played in religious ceremonies as well as in celebrations and parties. It features call and response chanting along with the music. Some of the rhythms associated with it are currulao, bambuco y andarele.

On the other hand there is the music from the Chota Valley. Here we have bomba music. This music tends to have a more prominent Spanish, mestizo and indigenous influence than marimba music and it is very different from it. It could go from a mid tempo to a very fast rhythm. It is usually played with guitars along with the main local instrument called bomba which is a drum along with a guiro and sometimes bombos and bongos. A variation of it is la banda mocha which are groups that play bomba with a bombo, guiro and plant leafs to give melody.

Religious practice among afro-Ecuadorians usually is Roman Catholic. There is not an important African cult but nevertheless catholic worship is distinctive in Esmeraldas and sometimes is done with marimba music.

Notable Afro-Ecuadorians

  • Alberto Spencer - All time top scorer of the Copa Libertadores
  • Monica Chala, in 1996, was the first Afro-Ecuadorian to win the Miss Ecuador beauty pageant.
  • Agustin Delgado, Ecuador soccer player hailing from Juncal village. In November 2001 he signed a $3.5 million deal with the team from Southampton, England.
  • Afrikáns Homo Sapiens is a musical group that performs "Bao" music. Bao is a fusion of native rhythms and Caribbean rhythms including candombe, salsa, merengue, reggae and calypso.
  • Jaime Hurtado, from Guayaquil, was notorious for fighting for the rights of the working people of Ecuador and the founder and leader of the Democratic People's Movement (MPD). He was assassinated in the winter of 1999.
  • Nelson Estupiñán Bass (1913-2002), born in Súa, Esmeraldas, he was a famous author of literature. His work expressed his great concern for the Afro-Ecuadorian people and the society of Ecuador. His works include "El Ultimo Rio" (1966), "Cuando los Guayacanes florecían" (1954), "El crepusculo" (1993), "Timarán y Cuabú" (1956), "Las tres carabelas" (1973) "Toque de Queda " (1978), "El desempate" (1980), "Viaje alrededor de la poesía negra" (1982), "Los canarios pintaron el aire amarillo" (1993)
  • Antonio Valencia, soccer player for Manchester United and Ecuadorian national team

See also


  1. Black Latin America
  2. Edufuturo

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