Candombe Day on December 3 celebrates the Uruguayan form of the African drum and dance marching tradition.
This is an African Diaspora tradition that has become a Uruguayan national tradition. At first we were surprised that all kinds of Uruguayans participate fully in what is clearly an African Diaspora tradition (Candombe drumming and Carnival).
We were raised and educated in the United States. Because of our Colonial English heritage, Americans of the USA are taught to see the world in Black and White terms, but the world is Brown, all the beautiful shades of Brown. Candombe is not cultural appropriation or anything like that. We have internalized the culture so it is part of all of us.
There are still some who still see the world in Black and White, but we see ourselves as a proud Uruguayan mix of many peoples and cultures. That’s pretty cool. ¡Viva Uruguay!
National Candombe Day
Candombe Day Celebrates the Root of Tango
Candombe is one of the roots of milonga which is one of the three Tango dances (milonga, tango, valz). Candombe evolved into milonga, and milonga evolved into tango. Valz came from European waltz.
Argentine composer Juan Carlos Cáceres (Buenos Aires, 1936) is one of the contemporary masters of milonga and its predecessor candombe. His Tango Negro (Black tango) is a classic song in the form.
Africa is a huge continent with many different cultures. During the Colonial Period, millions of people were enslaved from west Africa and central Africa, but also from north, south and even east Africa.
In the Americas, Africans are many peoples, from many places with different cultures. There is no archetypal African or African-American.
Every country and even regions in the Americas have different mixes of geography, history, Indigenous peoples, colonial powers, and Africans. Because of these variations, African culture manifests itself differently throughout the Americas, but with similarities.
Candombe and Candomblé
African drumming and dancing can be a religious ceremony, a healing ceremony, or a party just for fun. The drum and dance traditions are slightly different for each purpose,
In the Americas, the Yoruba religion of Nigeria and Benin became the dominant African religion in Latin America. In Cuba, the Spanish called it Santería. In Haiti and New Orleans, it is called Vodou or Voodoo. In Brazil, it is Candomblé. These are all different, but share obvious roots.
There must be some connection between Candombe the Afro-Uruguayan drum and dance, and Candomblé, the Afro-Brazilian religion.
We are not saying that Candombe is religious. It is not. It is an expression of Uruguayan heritage. In a similar way, Puerto Rican bomba has lost its religious meaning. It is simply an expression of Puerto Rican heritage.
History is often a sad story, but the many ways we blend together are truly marvelous.