There’s so much hidden history in Mexico that may surprise you. From music, food, and culture, there are many ways to explore African history in Mexico and you can start in some of its cities like Yanga.

Located in the state of Veracruz, Yanga is known today as one of the first self-liberated and independent towns in the Americas.

It ia is named in honor of Gasper Yanga— a man of African descent. Historians believe he’s from Angola.  He was captured and sold into slavery on the Nuestra Señora de la Concepción sugarcane plantation, roughly 93 miles away from Veracruz.

Veracruz became an important harbor for slavery in Mexico. Many Africans and Indigenous people were captured and sold into slavery. If they gained independence, those freed were a part of a brutal caste system, where they were treated even worse.

Yanga led a rebellion in 1570 with several hundred enslaved Africans and headed to the highest mountain in Mexico: the Pico de Orizaba. 

Historians say many people felt those who escaped slavery, known as Yanguícos as a threat.

Spanish Crown Viceroy Luis de Velasco sent a battalion of a few hundred troops to try and stop them, which led to a violent battle.

Yanga ultimately negotiated a ceasefire and the Spanish Crown consented to a treaty in 1618 allowing them to establish their government of their own.

Today, Yanga has been recognized as a UNESCO Slave Route project-designated city where you will find the Vásquez Lendechy statue of Gaspar Yanga in the town square. The statue depicts a large, muscular man of African descent with a machete in his hands, symbolizing breaking from the chains of slavery.

More Cities To Explore African Culture In Mexico

In a recent visit to Mexico, YouTube travel vlogger Ace Live documented his journey to find Afro-descendants in Mexico. Through his research, he found from locals that other cities to explore African Mexico culture and food include Puerto Escondido, Cerro Hermoso, El Zapotalito, Charco Redondo, and Collantes.