Arts & Entertainment

‘Son de Negro’ festival vindicates African traditions in Colombia

Santa Lucia, Colombia, Oct 17 (EFE).- Under the shade of leafy ceiba trees on the banks of the Dique canal, a branch of the Magdalena River, young people from the Colombian town of Santa Lucia paint their bodies with a mixture of powder mineral and cooking oil to participate in the dances of the “Son de Negro” festival.

It is a ritual similar to that of the warriors who prepare for battle in this town in the department of Atlantico 95 kilometers from Barranquilla and where this folkloric manifestation mixes theater, dance and poetry as an expression of resistance and vindication of rights.

It is a dance that has its origin in the colonial era in Cartagena de Indias, the city where the Canal del Dique ends, and that spread throughout all the towns located on the shore of the artificial body of water built with enslaved labor and opened in 1650.

The cultural researcher and promoter of the festival “Son de Negro” Alex Jordan told EFE that “the funny faces made by the dancers are a mockery of the enslaved blacks toward the Spaniards.”

The expert said that at first “the groups were only men, but over the years they have incorporated women who participate in the choirs.”

“Guillermina was a slave who was raped by her Spanish master. Her husband decided to dress up as her and when the abuser arrived, he had revenge for defending his wife’s honor,” Jordan said to explain why in the group of dancers there is a man with makeup and dressed as a woman.

With mid-calf pants like those worn by workers on the banks of the river, a half-naked body painted black and a hat adorned with flowers or multi-colored paper, dancers wear necklaces and are armed with wooden machetes to represent the same time the battles and the agricultural, fishing and mining work of bygone eras.

Although at first the “Son de Negro” festival only came to groups from towns near the Dique canal such as Calamar, Soplaviento, Arenal, Repelon, Manati, San Cristobal, Evitar, San Basilio de Palenque and San Marcos de Malagana, today this expression culture has spread to many other places in the Caribbean region of Colombia. EFE


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