Dominican Merengue, Cuban Rumba Named Cultural Heritages of Humanity
by ERICKA N. HERNANDEZ
If you love the wonderful beat of merengue music or the sounds of Cuban rumba, you’ll be happy to know they’re considered worldwide cultural treasures.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added both musical genres to their Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.
“Dominican merengue plays an active role in many areas of daily life of the population’s education, social and friendly gatherings, festive events and even political campaigns”, declared UNESCO during its most recent annual meeting, as EFE reports. “Merengue attracts people of different social classes, which helps promote respect and coexistence among individuals, groups and communities,” states UNESCO on its website.
Cuban rumba “evokes a sense of grace, sensuality and joy that aims to connect people, regardless of their social and economic background, gender or ethnicity,” UNESCO states. “The practice of rumba in Cuba has been transmitted over generations by imitation within families and neighborhood.”
World famous merengue artists include Johnny Ventura, Miriam Cruz, Juan Luis Guerra, Los Toros Band and the Queen of Merengue, Milly Quezada.
Rumba artists that have helped established their popularity include Celia Cruz, Alberto Zayas, Carlos “Patato” Veldes, Pancho Quinto and Francisco Aguabella.
Merengue, of Afro-Caribbean origin, became more known after the late Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo promoted the musical genre around the country.
Rumba, with its rhythmic drumming and elaborate dancing, also traces back to African culture. It developed during the 19th century in cities such as Havana and Matanzas as well as in rural areas where Afro-Cubans lived.