Praise for “Saya”
Dr. Beret E. Strong and John Tweedy’s short documentary offers an overview of the social and economic challenges that continue to plague Bolivia’s black population. The Afro-Bolivians, as they’re known, are descendants of the African slaves brought to the Andes by the Spanish conquistadors. Bolivia did not abolish the last vestiges of slavery until 1952, and the Afro-Bolivians continue to face racism and poverty. Sadly, the population lacks political muscle—in one of the film’s most shocking moments, a black woman is shooed away from a polling station during a local election—and the national census does not even acknowledge the existence of this demographic group. Coca farming has been one of the few areas where the people can thrive, but it’s been threatened by American pressure due to the plant’s use in producing cocaine. Many Afro-Bolivians are banking on higher education—especially nursing—to create a new wave of employment opportunities. Saya also holds out hope that unique Afro-Bolivian cultural expressions, particularly the titular dance that originated in Africa, can break down racial barriers. In one of its most buoyant moments, an all-black dance group entertains the multicultural participants at a regional festival, resulting in a happy mix of folks of different heritages literally dancing in the streets. Recommended (3 stars).
–Video :Librarian Aud: C, P. (P. Hall)