EL 23 DE SETIEMBRE DE CADA AÑO COMO DÍA DE LA CULTURA AFROPARAGUAYA

On August 7, 2015 Paraguayan President Horatio Cartes signed legislation that establishes September 23 as Afro-Paraguayan Cultural Day.

As an advocate Silvia Diaz de Moore is largely responsible for this legislation and is the International Representative of the Saint Baltazar Traditional Group of Kamba Cua that is one of the Afro-Paraguayan communities. 

Silvia Diaz de Moore

Silvia Diaz de Moore

Silvia Diaz de Moore said that for the Afro-descendant community this achievement puts on the calendar a day that commemorates Afro-descendants.  She explained that September 23 was chosen as the day to commemorate Afro-Paraguayan culture because of the death of Gervasio Artigas.

General José Gervasio Artigas, also known as father of Uruguayan independence, included free slave soldiers (known as los lancercos de Artigas or the lancers of Artigas) in Uruguay’s war of independence from Spain.  Silvia and the Kamba Cua community’s descendants were los lanceros de Artigas, who fought in the war of Uruguayan independence in the early 1800s.  Artigas and his soldiers, including los lanceros de Artigas, received political asylum in Paraguay around 1820, but the Paraguayan dictator at that time, José Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, would not allow them to mix with the “white” population.”  Francia provided Silvia’s ancestors land and livestock outside of Paraguay’s capital city of Asunción to survive.  Silvia’s Kamba Cua community has lived in that area ever since. Kamba Cua, is Guarani, the native indigenous language of Paraguay, and means “area of the black.”  Silvia’s descendants maintained their African heritage by performing African dance and musical traditions called Candombe.  Silvia and residents of Kamba Cua still practice Candombe and organize a festival every year in their community to celebrate their heritage and culture.  Other Afro-Paraguayan communities are in Paraguari, Emboscada, and Laurelty.  

African inspired Paraguayan Masks

African inspired Paraguayan Masks

Silva is married to Kansas native Shante Moore who graduated from Kansas State University.  Shante participated in a Kansas State community service project in Piribebuy, Paraguay in 1994. Silvia and Shante met in 2000 when he was working as a fellow in the U.S. Embassy in Asuncion. During his fellowship, he worked with Kamba Cua to set up a Kansas State Community Service Project with four students in 2001.  They later married. Shane is currently working in the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States (OAS).

Economic Progress in Paraguay

Paraguay has a long history of economic activity attributed to corruption and contraband.  Ciudad Del Este is a well known center of such activity.  Now we finally have some good news about progress in this amazing city.  If you have ever been there, you know what I mean.  Ciudad del Este has it all.

http://www.startribune.com/growing-pains-in-paraguay-as-economy-modernizes/307520831/

Tomorrow (April 22) is Korea Day in Paraguay

Here is an interesting article from the Korean Harold about Paraguay designating April 22 as a day to honor Korean immigrants.  This is an interesting idea for a couple of reasons.  Imagine if the US had a day to honor the immigrants from each nation.  Koreans also brought their food to Paraguay.  Imagine what the first Korean immigrants thought about the Paraguayan diet.  They had to spice it up a whole lot.

The articles states that the Korean population in Paraguay at one time was 30,000 and now is 5,000.  What happened?

http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20150421001131

Photos of The War of the Triple Alliance

BBC has a great article about photos from the War of the Triple Alliance.  Since the war was from 1865 to 1870 it was a long and difficult task to take these photos.  They belong to Uruguay and are touring Paraguay.  Clink the link and take a look.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-32034353

Museo Diocesano de Artes Jesuiticas

It was a warm day in 1991 and the Santa María de Fe was sleepy.  Edith and I decided to take a side trip to visit a museum that Marianna Beech of Kansas Paraguay Partners help create and maintain.  Both the town and the museum are special.  We took the bus on the main highway from Asunción to Encarnación and after 5 hours got dropped off at the side road to Santa María.  We caught a small bus for the 10 km into town.

Jesuits established many missions in Paraguay in the 17th Century.  Along with proselytizing they helped maintain Guaraní the indigenous and first language of Paraguay. Each mission established a speciality for religious and economic reasons.  The mission at Santa María specialized in religious sculpture.  Here is an example.

Sept - 76

The workshop became known as the Great Workshop of the Ancient Missions due to its high quality work and Santa María became one of the largest missions with about 7,000 indigenous residents.  The museum is housed in a 1670s building that once housed the people living at the mission. It consists of 6 rooms that house 56 items. These details are from Romy Natalia Goldberg’s great guidebook to Paraguay.

Edith and I marveled at the workmanship. It was interesting that while many of the saints depicted were European they were represented in Paraguay with the features of local indigenous people. It would have been easy for these sculptures to disappear over the hundreds of years of existence. It is wonderful that they are preserved in this wonderful small museum.

In the 1970s Marianna Beech was president of Kansas Paraguay Partners and learned about the sculptures and worked to create the museum to preserve them. She was an avid supporter throughout the rest of her life.  Here she is in 1979 receiving an award for the creation of the museum. Marianna is next to the women holding the award.

Dec-79 - Mika Mersan, Marianna Beach

Back to our trip.  We easily found the museum and had a wonderful tour.  When we left the museum about noon we asked about the next bus back to the main highway.  We were told that it was not until 4 pm. We decided to have lunch at the local restaurant. Well calling it a restaurant is generous.  Remember this was some 25 years ago.  It was a dimly lit large rectangular room with a few tables.  The food was good and we heard English being spoken at another table.  We introduced ourselves and asked where these other gringos were from.  It turns out that they were from Kansas State University and there on a agriculture project.  A small world indeed. The partnership was alive and working.

The next challenge was waiting until 4 pm.  That was pretty easy.  Like most Paraguayan towns after lunch siesta was an important part of the day.  So the town shut down and we rested on the porch of the museum being entertained by a family of monkeys that lived in the park across the street.  We were fascinated by the family and they seemed happy to entertain. I imagine that at least some of the towns people considered the monkeys to be a nuisance.  When we have Paraguayan visitors who are in Kansas for the first time they tend to fall in love with squirrels.  We would be happy to trade our squirrels for their monkeys.

Remembering Elden Tefft: University of Kansas Sculpture and Friend of Paraguay

Earlier this month Elden Tefft died at the age of 95. Elden retired from the University of Kansas in 1990 but was an active sculptor until his death working with his son Kim in their studio close to Lawrence.

Elden made at least 3 trips to Paraguay supported in part by Kansas-Paraguay Partners. In 1984 he traveled to Asuncion to conduct a needs assessment for a bronze foundry. He met noted Paraguayan sculptor Hermann Guggiari. As his obituary (read his obituary at this link (http://obituaries.ljworld.com/obituaries/ljworld/obituary.aspx?n=elden-cecil-tefft&pid=174196559&fhid=24990) states when Elden started out bronze sculpture was considered a craft since the work had to be finished in a foundry at another location. Elden took it upon him self to help institutions construct their own foundries. He did that at the University of Kansas and the Catholic University of Asuncion among many other institutions around the world.

Elden returned to Paraguay in 1988 with his assistant Gerald Miller. They spent 7 weeks working with Hermann Guggiari constructing a metal casting foundry at the School of Sculpture/Atheneum.

In 1989 Elden returned to Paraguay to teach a 3-week class in Guggiari’s workshop. Elden taught his signature lost wax method. One of his students was Paraguayan sculpture Gustavo Beckelmann who visited Kansas in 2008 to be part of the exhibit of Paraguayan art at the Mulvane Art Museum at Washburn University. I hosted Gustavo in Lawrence for a couple of days and he mentioned how influential Elden Tefft was in his development as a sculpture. Gustavo and Elden were able to get together for a short visit. Gustavo told Elden about his artistic influence and showed him some of this work.

Gustavo wrote the following wonderful tribute to Elden upon hearing of his death.

Conocí a Elden Tefft en 1989 en el taller del escultor paraguayo Hermann Guggiari. él vino al Paraguay a dar un curso de fundición en bronce a la cera perdida, el año anterior había estado acá, para diseñar y construir los hornos y utensilios necesarios para esa técnica.

Elden era elegante, así como elegante era su manera de trabajar. Sólo dejaba de lado su saco y vestía un delantal, todavía con la corbata puesta, tanto para modelar o hacer un molde o fundir bronce, lo único diferente es que para la fundición el delantal era de cuero y lo acompañaba con una delicada gorra confeccionada con una hoja de diario.

Su aproximación a la cera perdida era elegante, esta es una ténica muy difícil y él conseguía con extremado trabajo reducir al mínimo las posibilidades de que la pieza tuviera problemas.

Lo volví a ver en Lawrence en 2008, ya con graves problemas de salud, pero tuvo la picardía de saludarme con un ejemplar del suplemento cultural de un diario, en que en primera página estaban él y una alumna en aquél famoso curso de fundición.

Elden y sus enseñanzas contribuyeron en gran medida a lo que es hoy mi vida y mi arte, así como me imagino que habrá sido con innumerables otros que pasaron por su cátedra. Eso hace que la memoria sea dulce y menos dolorosa. Hasta siempre Elden, maestro!

Stevia, Paraguay and Peace Corps

This is one of those why didn’t I think of that.  It is the story of James May who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay when he was introduced to Stevia.  That natural sweetener used in Terere and Cocido.  Take a look.

http://www.pressreleaserocket.net/james-a-may-the-father-of-stevia-accepts-esteemed-visionary-award/44258/

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