Bárbara y Benito Medina
Paraguay -
October 01, 2023

Imagining the Fire: Conversations about the African American | Season 2 Episode #2

Paraguay is our destination today on ‘Imagining the Fire: Conversations about the African American.’ In this South American country, there are three recognized Afro-descendant communities: Kambá Kua in Fernando de la Mora (Greater Asunción), Kambá Kokue on the outskirts of Paraguarí, and Pardos Libres in the city of Emboscada. It is estimated that at least 2% of the Paraguayan population is of African descent, but it’s not something that is known with certainty. Among other reasons, the question about self-identifying as Afro-Paraguayan or Black was eliminated in last year’s census. According to state agents, people wouldn’t know how to answer that question. We will discuss these and other topics with today’s guests, Benito Medina and Bárbara Medina from the Kamba Cua community. Benito is part of the Traditional Group Association Kamba Cua and is now the artistic director. He has been a member of the now-called Ballet @balletkambacua_lazaromedina since its foundation in 1980.
Bárbara is his niece, who has been involved with the Kamba Cua ballet since age 6. She now leads the Kuña Afropy Organization @kunaafro_py, bringing female drummers together. Bárbara learned the dances and music by watching, listening, and dancing with people like her uncle. For them, it is clear that the public presentations of their cultural traditions have an educational vocation: they allow them to make themselves known and teach others about the African history of their country. “Our ancestors have already suffered too much, and we have the role of rebuilding, sustaining, and continuing to fight for a better life. Because many people here in the community are outside the communities, many Afro individuals don’t have a dignified life. Besides feeling proud of being Afro and having maintained our traditions to this day, which is very beautiful,” says @kambaite_.

‘Imagining the Fire’ is hosted by Marcela Vallejo