Two Congolese apply for the UNESCO list to find the rhythm of the rumba


Bana OK’s trumpeter will perform on September 24, 2021 at Club La Septante in the Casabbu district of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. REUTERS / Hereward Holland

October 6, 2021

By Hereward Holland

Kinshasa (Reuters) – Sitting on the stage of La Septente, an outdoor club in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Manda Chante sings the opening of the old African anti-colonial national anthem, Independence Cha An. Movement.

The song debuted one night in Brussels in February 1960, during negotiations for the liberation of the Congo from Belgium, and excited the delegation. In four months, the Congo was free.

Sixty-one years later, rumba remained the heart of African music, and there was a movement to solidify its reputation and ensure its protection.

The authorities of the neighboring capitals of the Republic of Congo, Kinshasa and Brazzaville, have submitted an offer to add Congolumba to the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage. UNESCO will announce its decision in November.

This list will show the diversity of heritage and raise awareness of its importance. When Congolese rumba is added, it joins the food of Singapore hawkers, Finnish sauna culture, and the traditional UAE irrigation system, among the myriad of other customs on the list.

“Looking at modern rumba, we raised and developed it, but we continued to refer to icons like Le Grand Kallé,” “Independent Chacha” said to convince politicians. Menda said, referring to the stage name of Joseph Kabasele who wrote. Let go of these differences to ensure self-control.

Born in a 19th-century Cuban melting pot, Roomba combines enslaved African drums with the melody of Spanish settlers.

Re-exported to Africa in vinyl at the beginning of the 20th century, they quickly found an audience with two Congolese who recognized the rhythm as their own.

“They took our ancestors to America in the 15th or 16th centuries. The Congolese Rumba was created and anchored in the same dynamic as the history which constituted the country ”, declared Congolese. André Yoka, director of the National Institute of the Arts in Kinshasa, which heads the candidate for UNESCO status, said.

According to Congo’s submission to UNESCO, rumba is derived from the local language “umba”, which means navel, a dance originating in “the ancient kingdom of Kongo”.

Catherine Katung Hulaha, Minister of Arts and Culture of Congo, said:

“We want Roomba to be recognized as ours. It is our identity. “

(Additional report by Jessica Aga Salo, edited by Allison Williams)


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