Yanga Municipality is a municipality located in the southern area of the State of Veracruz, Mexico, about 80 km from the state capital of Xalapa. It was formerly known as San Lorenzo de los Negros (after a colony of cimarrons in the early 17th century) or San Lorenzo de Cerralvo (after a 17th-century Spanish colonial priest). In 1932 it was renamed after Gaspar Yanga, the cimarron leader who in 1609 resisted attack by Spanish forces trying to regain control of the area.
Municipality and town
|• Total||102.82 km2 (39.70 sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central Standard Time)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (Central Daylight Time)|
Gaspar Yanga was a chief of the Yang-Bara tribe in the area of present-day Guinea in West Africa before being sold into slavery and sent to Mexico. After leading an escape by a band of slaves in 1570, Yanga and his group settled in the highlands. They fought off Spanish forces in 1609, with further bloody skirmishes over nearly a decade.
In 1618 he finally negotiated with Spanish officials to grant freedom to the fugitive slaves and independence to their village, a few kilometers from the city of Cordoba, Veracruz. It became known as San Lorenzo de los Negros (named after the cimmarons) or San Lorenzo de Cerralvo (named after Juan Laurencio, a Jesuit cleric who had accompanied the 1609 expedition sent by the Viceroy). They gave the town of San Lorenzo its "small independence".
The black inhabitants of San Lorenzo proclaimed their loyalty to the Church and the King of Spain, but refused to pay tribute to the Spanish government. They also agreed to capture fugitive slaves and return them to their masters in return for a fee. They were among some of the free blacks of Mexico, which had the fifth-highest slave population (estimated 200,000) of the Americas after Brazil (over 4.9 million), the United States (over 4 million), Cuba (over 1 million) and Hispaniola, where unpaid labor is still a practice in Haiti.
Every February, a festival is held to celebrate Virgen de Candelaria, the patron of the town. Every December is a festival in honour of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
A festivity for San Lorenzo, the saint of the town, takes place each August. Every year in mid-August, a carnival is held to celebrate Gaspar Yanga, the former slave and leader who held off the Spanish in their attack of 1609 on his maroon settlement in the highlands. Several years later, in 1618 he gained the founding of a free village and freedom for his band of maroons; it was said to be the first free black city in the Americas. The 400th anniversary carnival was held in August 2009, four centuries after the Spanish had attacked the early maroon settlement and burned its dwellings.
Yanga is twinned with the following places:
The climate in Yanga is warm and humid, with an average temperature of 18 °C and rains mainly in the summer and fall.
- Charles Henry Rowell, “El Primer Libertador de las Americas: Editor's Notes”, Callaloo 31:1 (Winter 2008)
- "Enciclopedia de los Municipios de México: Yanga" (in Spanish). Gobierno Estatal. Archived from the original on March 25, 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
- "Llegan funcionarios de Irlanda a Yanga" [Irish officials arrive to Yanga] (in Spanish).