An informal talk given at the Ananse's Web African Festival, 1st-4th October 2009, by African art historian Tamsin Barzane, owner and creative director of Second Life's virtual Nigeria on Saminaka.
History survives through dance. For the Indigenous of La Costa Chica— the Amuzgo, the Mixteco, the Zapoteco— society is something to be remembered, revered, and ridiculed. No one is beyond scrutiny, not the dead and certainly not the living. In la Danza de los Vaqueros (the Dance of the Cowboys) the Minga wears a white female mask. As usual, the Minga plays a central comedic role. He is a masked man dressed as a European woman, hiking his skirt up he chases children giggling into the borders of the performance space. When not scaring the young ones away he concentrates on more traditional prey: he chases the African man, the overseer-cowboy behind the black mask. This, laugh the indigenous, reflects the manner in which the European plantation wives persisted in sexually assaulting the Africans who oversaw indigenous field labor. Lined up in work gangs, the indigenous are represented by matching black suits and pink masks. They step in sync with one another within the spaces left open to them by the black cowboy who deftly skirts the plantation owner’s lascivious wife.