A photographic exhibition of Ecuadorian photographer Freddy Cevallos titled “Faces of Afro-Ecuadorianity” was held at the Cervantes Institute in New Delhi, from 4 to 17 April, 2018. The exhibition was seen by Ambassadors and other members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited in India, as well as students and the general public. They all had the opportunity to learn more about the ethnic diversity of Ecuador.
Dr. Patricio Garcés Ramírez, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Ecuador embassy, in his speech, highlighted the main characteristics of the Afro-Ecuadorian people, as well as their contributions for the consolidation of the Ecuadorian nation. Dr. Garces also highlighted the breakthrough advancements incorporated into Ecuadorian legislation in 1998, when constitutional rights were established. He also drew attention towards the earnest efforts of the National Government to comply with the mandates of the United Nations and other legal bodies of international law of which Ecuador is a signatory.
During the opening ceremony, Nigerian ambassador, General (Rtd) Chris Eze, thanked the embassy for organising such events that recognise and make the African diaspora more visible.
Dr Garces said, the Embassy of Ecuador, through this event, has paid tribute to the Afro-Ecuadorian people, who have been living in the country for nearly five centuries and have played an important role in its development. It is their direct participation and contribution in areas such as transfer of productive knowledge, workforce, health care, cultural and religious wealth, alongside with their struggle for emancipation to name a few, that have consolidated Ecuador as a unique, indivisible, inter-cultural and pluralistic country, as established in the Ecuadorian Constitution, he added.
It is worth mentioning that in spite of all these contributions, Afro Ecuadorian people continue to fight for a well deserved space of equality and justice, in which their contributions and history are recognised. “Till today, the voices of Afro-Ecuadorian people have been silenced due to persistent racism and structural discrimination, and their history has even been left out of textbooks and school curricula throughout all levels of education,” he said. “This structural racism that persists from colonial times up to the present day, has compelled a large number of People of African origin to remain under poverty, and to live in rural areas of difficult access or marginalised urban places that form belts of misery in our biggest cities,” Dr Garces said.
This reality is still present in other countries of South America and the world, which has compelled the United Nations to declare the decade of Afro-descendants which commenced in 2015 and called upon all governments to cast more efforts on improving the quality of life of Afro descendant communities within three main axes: Justice, Development and Recognition.
Jose Kalathil is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. With more than three decades of experience in different publications in India and Nepal, he is comfortable writing on any topic under the sun.