Giant multi-coloured sombreros teetered on heads, and there were glittering wrestling masks, spiked wigs, and flashing dangling earrings, decorating others. In honour of Mexican Independence Day, you could buy green, red, and white flags, on every street corner. A friend told me that he has fond memories of being bought a novelty moustache by his father when he was a kid, and I did see a great deal of them this year, cruising proudly below the noses of many Oaxaqueños, both children and adult.
The youth gathered in the plazas, dressed to impress. And over their best shirts, was soon splattered a generous amount of white foam and glitter. In affectionate retaliation, eggs filled with paper confetti were smashed over the heads of friends and compatriots alike.
Strolling around the Zócalo was especially pleasant with the coloured lights strung up around the centre kisoko and the palacio building. The children played, running and prancing about the square, adding to the rush and sparkle of the evening. Walking among them, with families and couples and people all around, I felt at home and welcome.
In San Augustin de Etla, a town just outside of the city of Oaxaca, I had the privilege of seeing the local school marching band practicing for the occasion of Independence Day. There is something about the beating of so many drums, and the ring of trumpets, that stirs up unmistakable feelings; to mobilise, and to stand tall. Under the lights and glitter of this festival, the proud beat of protest exists.
On the 16th of September 1810, Miguel Hidalgo, a priest in the town of Dolores, gave a mass that was in effect a call to arms and rebellion against the viceregal government of Spain. His cry has become known as “El Grito de la Independencia”, and is now re-enacted in every city and town centre in Mexico on the night of the 15th of September. The historical date marks the start of a War of Independence. As in all wars, there was a heavy cost; of life, and in the formulation and compromise of ideals.
In 1810, Miguel Hidalgo, and those that fought with him, recognised that the people were suffering due to bad governance. An outside power had control over trade and commerce, and through the repression of many, the wealth of the nation was being consumed by a few. Its course shaped a new nation, and it was one fight in an ongoing history of battles for independence.
It has been an honour to live another Mexican Independence Day alongside the people that make it such a special nation. I am truly thankful for the nourishment of home-made pozole, for the fun of fake moustaches, and most especially, for the opportunity to know many Mexicans who are, every day, in their own ways, calling out to make Mexico the great country it is, and independent, as it always deserves to be. ¡Viva México! Live long.