Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Traditions of the Panamanian Congos

African slaves in the fierce struggle for freedom against the Spanish Empire (the 'runaways') were also land in the jungle magic Portobelo. And after escaping deep into its dense forests and hills, the Maroons built fortified villages, known as Palenque, from which declared war against their former slavers. So successful were these courageous battle in the Spanish fugitives were forced to declare several truces, and finally to recognize their freedom and independence.

The traditions of the Congos consist of unwritten traditional performances, with characters from mythology, rituals, costumes, architecture, music, food and dance. Its impromptu street performances recall was metaphorically describe their ancestry and the victory of good over evil.
Congo culture survived thanks to the use of 'double effect' that enslaved Africans used as a weapon of resistance, which allowed them to communicate with one another while confusing the Spanish. By distorting the meaning, the reality becomes ambiguous making the African teachers in the exchange of information. The ability to communicate with each other without being discovered, they made it possible to plan escapes and riots, as well as operate an elaborate system of espionage. The result is a story full of symbolism and idiosyncratic culture, paradigms and metaphors that arouse fascination among visitors to Portobelo ready to be wrapped in mists of light.
One of the traditions of the people is the drummer of "Congos" during Carnaval this tradition dates from the time of slavery in colonial times.

One of the main traditions of the people is the drum of "Congos". It usually occurs during the carnival in February. This tradition dates back to slavery in the colony. It is a mockery of the Spanish kings and during the dance, which lasts several days, the participants assume the role of runaway slaves fleeing the Spanish. They hide in different parts of the village and take captive.

The dance has a story in which characters representing the Congolese fight against the devil, who is on the loose in those days. At the end are saving the "Queen Conga" with the help of "bird" and "John of God" in these traditions is easy to see the syncretism between Catholicism and African rituals Antilles.

Congo, Evocation of complaints from black ancestors and now facts and incidents of everyday life.
The Congo is the one that has persisted and is alternated with salsa dancing or popular. As for the special clothing is congo: change of chintz, striking large flowered skirt, head, crown fitted with colored ribbons, mirrors, flowers typical of the season (Caracucho, jasmine, papos, Havana), pinned at Trez in circle on the sides of the head.

Men use ketones, pants backwards subjects with rope, tape crowns interspersed with mirrors, a motet or quirky bag that serves to put few things picked up.

The Congos are the descendants of the Maroons, who have preserved the stories of their ancestors in a living tradition which is essentially a work of art. You travel back in time achieving power and strength as they approach their African ancestors of the seventeenth century. (source: Webscolar)


  1. These are some more links:

    Portobelo is located on the Atlantic coast in the province of Colon, and there the people celebrate and honor the Black Christ of Portobelo on October 21st.
    El Cristo Negro de Portobelo. This town called Portobelo is rich in history because the Spaniards used to depart from there on their ships towards Spain with all the riches from the Inca Empire.
    Right there in Portobelo, runaway slaves, angry indigenous people and pirates waited for the Spaniards to loot and kill them.

    Portobelo was also famous during the colonial days for its famous Ferias. A Feria was like a grand merchant bazaar. For many days during the Ferias de Portobelo,merchants from all over, even freed blacks sold all sorts of things from jewelry to embroidery items,furnitures, food, animals, etc.
    ellman College has an annual program with artists in Portobelo every July. Portobelo is rich in traditions, because it is the ancestral home of black Panamanians.


  2. Correction: Spellman College

  3. Thanks for the links and the information.

  4. Aw, this was a really nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to generate a superb article… but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and never manage
    to get anything done.

    Here is my site; counted



Click here to return to the US Slave Home Page