African spirits of Uruguay - Kate StanworthKate Stanworth

In the 18th and 19th Centuries thousands of West Africans were brought to Uruguay and forced to work as slaves for the Spanish colonizers. The rich culture, music and religion of these people and their descendants grew to greatly influence the region, but their important contribution has often been overlooked.


Every February two events take place in Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, that have African influences at their heart – the Fiesta de Llemanja, a tribute to the sea goddess (or Orixá) from the Afro-Brazilian religion Umbanda which made its way across the Brazil-Uruguay border in the 1960s – and ‘Las Llamadas’ (‘The Calls’), a carnival of Candombe, a traditional Afro-Uruguayan rhythm.