Morenada

The Morenada (Dance of the Black Slaves) is a music and dance style from the Bolivian Andes characterized by a mixture of African and Indigenous elements. The origins of this dance are debated among specialists on this topic, the three main hypotheses say that the dance could have been inspired in African slaves brought to Bolivia to work in the silver mines of Potosí, another theory states that it would be inspired in the Afro-Bolivian community living in the Yungas region of La Paz, and the third main theory links this dance with the Aymara culture due to the findings of cave paintings in the Lake Titicaca shores in the Taraco peninsula.

In June 2011, through a Supreme Decree the Morenada was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, according to the government, this measure was taken to stop the attempts of appropriation by neighbor countries.

On August 4, 2013, a historic event took place called “100% Bolivian Morenada: for world peace and Bolivian Culture Respect”, in which hundreds of thousands of people danced in 76 cities in 23 countries worldwide, Bolivia, Germany, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Spain, United States, Finland, France, Holland, England, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Panama, Sweden, Switzerland and Venezuela. This event was organized by the OBDEFO (Bolivian Defence Organisation and Dissemination of Folklore) in order to show the world that dance is purely Bolivian.

The most commonly shared theory says that the dance was inspired by the sufferings of the African slaves brought to Bolivia in order to work in the Silver Mines of Potosí. The enormous tongue of the dark masks is meant to represent the physical state of these mines workers and the rattling of the Matracas are frequently associated with the rattling of the slaves’ chains. However, there is no evidence that these African slaves actually worked in the mines, although there is much evidence that they worked in the Casa de la Moneda (mint) in the production of coins and in domestic service.