This paper examines the influence of Cumbia music and dance on the Colombian Culture both at home and in the diaspora. The paper begins by tracing the roots of Cumbia to Africans brought to Colombia in the 17th and 18th century from places in present-day Nigeria and Guinea. …
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The Cumbia dance and song is a symbol of Colombian culture around the globe (Dimartio, 1999 p26). This is because Cumbia dance has strong links to the history of the Colombian people and for generations, acted as a melting point for numerous Colombian cultures that defines the national identity of the nation (Wade, 2008 p109).
Cumbia can be traced to music and dance that reflected the social lives of the countries of origins of African slaves brought to Colombia by the Spaniards to work on the plantations. The African slaves created Cumbia as the only form of entertainment that they had to ease the unpleasant and harsh nature of work as a slave in the Americas (Rosa & Neciosup, 2008 p59).
Up until the 1930s, Cumbia was only known in Colombia (Dimartio, 1999 p26). It was performed by a few professional groups that toured the Colombian countryside and was also performed by gifted musicians who lived in the various villages. These gifted musicians were preserving a tradition that was handed down to them by their ancestors.
Aside the African influence, there is clear evidence of Spanish influence in Cumbia. Most Cumbian songs are sang in Spanish and the costumes used by the main, like the hat, pants, shirts and dresses are sewn according to Spanish standards. They reflect the main cultural trends of the dresscode of Spanish America. There is also a strong Amerindian influence in the dance and some of the instruments used in the dance of Cumbia. All these observations were made after watching the Xiomara dance video and the Ballet Esmeraldas group perform. The purpose of the research is to identify the origins and manifestation of Cumbia. It examines the components of Cumbia and how it developed. It goes further to identify why it forms an important part of Colombian culture. The study was motivated by the fact that the Colombian community is New York is large and quite influential. In spite of their dominance as a great part of the New York society, many people with stereotypes view Colombia and Colombian with a very negative attitude. However, in spite of this, the Colombian people live very respectable lives all over the United States and a vast majority of them work very hard and contribute to the building of the American economy through various decent jobs. Thus in a Hispanic classroom, it is important to dispell some of these false information and visions about the Colombian culture and teach students some of the important aspects of their native cultures and traditions that can inspire heroic and positive attachments to these cultures. So as part of this project, I hope to uncover important elements of the Colombian culture and history that can help in the quest to get the average student to understand and appreciate other important aspect of Colombian culture that are often not discussed. This research therefore attempts to examine some of the distinct elements of the Colombian culture that makes them different from everyone else. It is interesting to note that Cumbia reflects the complex history of Colombia and brings out the socio-cultural insights of the Colombian people. It debunks modern views of Colombia and has taught me a lot about the Colombian people which I will not have known, aside the stereotypes I grew up learning about the
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