‘The soul of the Congolese’: Rumba included to UNESCO heritage listing | Songs Information

Stella McDaniel

UNESCO has additional Congolese rumba to its intangible heritage listing, sparking enthusiasm amongst music and dance enthusiasts in the two the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Republic of the Congo.

The recognition of the musical genre and dance – often referred to as the soundtrack of Congolese record, made use of for the two celebration and mourning – came right after a joint application to the United Nations’ cultural agency by the neighbouring international locations.

The rumba “allows the transmission of social and cultural values ​​of the area, but also the promotion of social, intergenerational and united cohesion”, go through a statement published by UNESCO on Tuesday.

In a Twitter publish, the place of work of the DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi expressed “joy and pride” at the inscription of Congolese rumba on the listing.

“This cultural gem precise to the two Congos (Kinshasa & Brazzaville) is recognised for its universal price,” it included.

Congolese rumba has now joined the very same record as the Cuban rumba, Jamaica’s reggae new music and Zaouli – the well-known audio and dance of the Guro communities in Ivory Coast – amid many others.

Intangible heritages are traditions or residing expressions inherited from ancestors and passed on to descendants. Their great importance “is not the cultural manifestation by itself, but instead the prosperity of awareness and competencies that is transmitted by means of it from a single technology to the subsequent,” in accordance to UNESCO.

“The rumba for Congolese represents their total lifetime and the history of Congo, as all its largest historical developments ended up accompanied by this new music,” said Paul Le Perc Ngoie, a percussionist and artist dependent in the DRC’s capital, Kinshasa.

“There have been several alterations, but there is constantly an interior component that remains and keeps in custody the soul of the Congolese,” Ngoie mentioned.

Common origins

Rumba’s origins can be traced in central Africa, but it was introduced throughout the Atlantic Ocean through the slave trade from the 16th to the 19th century. It was there where by slaves from the location, trying to find to hook up and preserve their traditions alive, applied to obtain among on their own dancing to the NKumba, the word for navel.

“Thanks to this oral custom, they ended up equipped to maintain their historical past,” said Maika Munan, a celebrated Congolese composer and a rumba specialist.


Five Congolese rumba tunes to sing and dance to:

  • Marie Louise by Wendo Kolosoy
  • African Jazz Mokili Mobimba by Le Grand Kallé
  • Adios Tété by Tabu Ley Rochereau
  • Mario by Franco Luambo
  • Indépendance Cha Cha by Le Grand Kallé

With the passage of time, the NKumba grew to become a significant influence on Cuban audio, which was introduced in Africa in the late 1930s with the spread of radio and phonograph documents – what would later on be recognised as vinyl disc data. Congolese musicians recognised their personal defeat in the Cuban melodies and started mixing them with their neighborhood common new music, major to the creation of the modern day Congolese rumba.

A new thriving scene experienced been formed by the early 1940s, with Paul Kamba in Brazzaville, in the Republic of the Congo, founding Victoria Brazza, a pioneer rumba group, even though in Kinshasa, musicians this sort of as Wendo Kolosoy and Henri Bowane had been among the early heroes.

But it was the next decades that represented “the consecration” of Congolese rumba, claimed Munan.

As the DRC moved to independence from Belgian rule in 1960, the new music of African Jazz, a common Congolese rumba band started by Joseph Kabasele, who was also acknowledged as Le Grand Kallé, turned an expression of nationwide self consciousness.

The band’s epitome came with Indépendance Cha Cha, which was very first executed in 1960 in Brussels.

“It was the hymn of Africa,” Munan mentioned of the track, noting that it was a smash strike throughout the continent commemorating the “Year of Africa” when 17 nations attained independence.

The concept of adore is central to rumba tunes, but it is normally used as a metaphor to focus on political and social challenges. These days, modern day versions of rumba are sung and danced in bars across Congolese metropolitan areas. And regardless of each and every era generating its have model of it, Munan stated, its rhythmic essential sample – identified as clave – remains the very same.

“The reality that it is recognised by the world as an intangible cultural heritage, it’s very good news, as [the recognition] will allow this tunes to be maintained, but mostly transmitted to upcoming generations,” he added.

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