text and pictures by Anna Bruce
Recently I had the honour of visiting musician Chogo Prudente at his home in the village of Santiago Llano Grande, nicknamed ‘La Banda’, in the Costa Chica region of Oaxaca. Music is at the root of this place, influenced by both Afro-Mexican and indigenous Amuzgo traditions. The name ‘La Banda’ proudly refers to a group of musicians, famous in the region during the 1950s and 60s. Chogo’s father played the trumpet in this group, alongside saxophonist Cliserio López, the last living member. While exploring the village Chogo introduced me to Cliserio. He welcomed us to his home where he played just for us.
The Costa Chica is home to one of the largest Afro-Mexican communities. After centuries of marginalisation, this community has finally been recognised as a minority group by the Senate Commission for Culture, with the support of Oaxacan singer and Senator Susana Harp. The Afro-Mexican community has traditionally raised cattle and Chogo also grew up as a cattle herder. He built his own herd, which he tends with the help of his son, Rai, who also performs with him playing the jawbone and arcusa.