Candombe and its socio-cultural space: a community practice
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Candombe and its socio-cultural space: a community practice
Every Sunday and on many holidays, the llamadas de tambores de candombe or candombe drum calls enliven the Sur, Palermo and Cordón districts in southern Montevideo, Uruguay, home to a population of African descent. The practice of the candombe begins around communal fires as people gather to tune their drums and socialize before beginning their march. Once underway, the drum-call parade is led by the most prestigious members, from families recognized by the community for their drumming for many generations; other drummers are organized behind them in rows, and informal participants, dancers and spectators march alongside or watch from balconies. The beat of the largest and deepest drum, the piano, is distinctive to each of the three neighbourhoods, so that the organized call and response structure of the candombe both unites the districts and signals their individual identities. Transmitted within families of African descent, the candombe is recognized as an expression of resistance as well as a Uruguayan musical celebration and collective social practice deeply interwoven in the daily life of these neighbourhoods. It is also a symbol and manifestation of the memory of the community, drawing former residents back on special days to the historical nucleus of candombe.
Decision 4.COM 13.74
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: The candombe is a source of pride and a symbol of the identity of communities of African descent in Montevideo, embraced by younger generations and favouring group cohesion, while expressing the communities’ needs and feelings with regard to their ancestors;
- R.2: Inscription of the element on the Representative List would provide an important impetus to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage, creativity and dialogue between the diverse communities concerned, while strengthening its resistance to certain negative tendencies;
- R.3: Both the State and the communities have elaborated safeguarding measures and are committed to strengthening the candombe’s viability through inventory making, education and intergenerational transmission, as well as awareness-raising activities;
- R.4: The element has been nominated with the involvement, throughout the entire process, of the relevant communities, including organizations, transmitting bodies and individuals, and they have given their free, prior and informed consent in writing;
- R.5: The element is inscribed in the inventory of traditional feast days in Uruguay, maintained by the Comisión del Patrimonio Cultural de la Nación.
© 2008 by Diego Lozza
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