The fabulous story of the African roots of music in Colombia

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“A real sound system in Cartagena is when you put yourself in front of the loudspeaker and it shakes your body (…) It’s also a music of resistance, because the Afro-Colombian culture has to struggle a lot in Colombia , it comes from misery and poverty, it is very punk because you cannot control it ”, Lucas Silva (founder of Palenque Records).

Today, here is the fabulous story of African roots of music in Colombia! We will talk about territories conquered by free slaves, joyous ambulances, Shakira and the trafficking of soukouss vinyls which tumble through the sound systems of Cartagena… A subject of Elodie Maillot.

Guests: Lucas Silva (Palenque Rd), Guillaume Cros and Simba Daniel of the group Nkumba Sytema, Edgardio Garces of the group Ghetto Kumbe.

To go back to the roots of Afro-Colombian music and modern Colombian music, you have to go to the Caribbean coast, in the region of Cartagena and Baranquilla, in this country which has the second largest population of Afro-descendants in Latin America, just after Brazil.

This is where the Colombian sound systems, the “Picos” were born, tens of kilometers from San Basilio, the first free independent Afro-Colombian nation, founded in 1613 by Maroon slaves led by Benkos Bioho.

Pico, sound system. © Analog Africa

This is where the Happy Ambulances, a training that still perpetuates the funeral traditions that came from Africa more than three centuries ago.

Since Lucas Silva recorded them to make a record, their voices are endlessly mixed on the dancefloors of the country by the DJs of Picos, the famous sound systems. And in this country where soukouss, highlife or bikutsi records have a collectors’ market, dozens of groups, like Nkuma System or Ghetto Nkumbe are inspired to make contemporary Colombian music.

Baranquilla Carnival.
Baranquilla Carnival. © Analog Africa

Playlist Colombie

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Manuel Alvarez Y Sus Dangers “Modern Slave” 1979

Dj Rata “La Maldita Vieja – Las Alegres Ambulancias” Piano remix

Sergeant Garcia Y Champetaman “1er Gaou” remix

Gamero’s Soneros “Katunga” (compil Soundway Palenque Rd)

Zangalewa Original, tube calerounais who inspires Shakira

Shakira “Waka Waka” (Time for Africa)

Red Ball Group “Caracol” (compil Analog Africa)

Samba Negra “Long Life Africa”

Nkumba Systema “Ya Llego” + “La Confianza” + “Paosano” Feat. Mamani Keita

Ghetto Kumbe “Vamo a Dale Duro” “Tamno”

Torres Dynasty “Canto de Boga by Pacho Torres.”

Ghetto Kumbe.
Ghetto Kumbe. © ZZK Rd

The program’s record references

– CompilationThe Madness of Machuca 1975-1980 (Analog Africa, 2020)

– FARAON BANTU & CHAMPETA MAN “Ancestral Future” (Palenque Record 2020) New Album by Nkumba System.

– Site Palenque Records ridden by Lucas Silva and Instagram account

– Home System, “Bailalo Duro” (Prado Record 2020)

– Clip of I arrived

– TROPICANT JAZZ, laboratory of Franco-Colombian creations which initiated the meeting between Nkumba System and Mamani Keita

– GHETTO KUMBE, Ghetto Nkumbe (ZZK Records)

– Clip of Alone.

And also

– Compilation Palenque palenque / Champeta criolla & afro roots in Colombia 1975-1991 (Soundways sortie and 2010)

– Funeral Music Compilation of Palenque (Buda Music – 1999).


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