...'... .- ) .T M '^ ...... ,,..... -
*at%;3 in its role as one of the main cultural
pacesetters in the Ca&ribbt and Lt in America, brings a
new richness and aesa it.g 1 dimension to the world of the
CGaribtean 'Peatival & Creative Arts- CA3IFT?ST Y"12. -
The ict:: that Cuba was among the first set of invited
countries in the region to indicate i'ts strong desire to
participate in CAAIFBSTA and was also among the first to
state its area of participation is testimony to the fact
thaut the revolution and the cou fty's physical isolation
have not culturally separated the Cuban peoples from their
Sb.rothdrs and sisters of the wider Caribbean and Latin America.
Images of the masses predominate in Cuba and it is the
masses who control the cultural scene. Cuba's main contribution
to CARIFESTA the Conjunto Folklorico Nacionale will
portray rhythms of the masses in Yoruba chants and movements.
And it is in looking at the culture of the Cuban masses
which has taken a revolutionary trend with the coming of
Fidel Castro Ruz and his comrades Raul Castro, Prnesto Guevara,
Camila Cienfuego and Juan Almeida to power in 1959 that one
sees truth in the statement that "Caribbean and Latin American
culture is adaptive, inventive and full of rhythm that
tranefends race, colour and previous conditions of servitude".
Out of this adaptability and inventiveness of the Cuban
pedplesa. which is a mixture of the Eurepean, Indian, Chinese
nf. African has emerged a cultural creativity bringing to the
fore new enti-ties in the form of song, dance, music, sculpture
art and architecture that has spilled over into the wider
Out of the Cuba of the past came the rhumba, conc-,
guaracha and the mambo all of which had their birth in the
marriac.e which took place between the rhythm of throbbing
jungle drums coming out of plantation shacks, exotic moorish
wails of the Spanish Conquerors and incantations and chants
of the Cuban indigenous Indians the Siboneys, Tainoes and
Out of the Cuba of today is emerging a people with a new
cultural awareness, a new adtrntability and inventiveness, a
greater and more unique cultural creativity that -,ill spill
over in part at CALI7' LA.
The Cuba that is coming to C;'.I'TA is a fascinating
Cuba...a place jammed with strange boroque structures, with
their rich ornamentation, decorative paintings and sculpture,
gold and silver filigree...buildinas like the Havana Cathedral
and the Jesuit Seminary at San Carlos reflecting the Hispanio -
American borooue with motif embellishments from Indian
civilizations and Negroes that carved strange idols in the
depths of Africa.
And it was this same atmosphere which nourished the
beautiful architecture that also nourished the folk aspect of
the Cuban cultural scene. One may ask how can a country that is
predominantly mestizo find itself almost completely overpowered
by the cultural strains of a minority r.roup the African.
Like Venezuela, Brazil and other countries Afro-rhythms tend
to hold sway.
Some ascribe this to the power of the drums; others to
the fact that Afro-forms were easily woven into the cultural
forms of the many Caribbean and Latin American peoples
whether indigenous or otherwise.
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The Yoruba music, dance and ritual has maintained such
a great degree of purity in Cuba after hundreds of years of
continental transplantation that it still baffles many...
never-the-less it is uniquely Cuban and will be presented
at CAIIr.3TA through the Conjunto Folklorico N-cionale as
the main aspect of the country's participation.
The Conjunto Folklorico Nacionale with its Afro-Cuban
Ballets and rituals has successfully toured many countries
including the Soviet Union. The promise of Dr. Celio Labora
of the Cuban National Council of Culture is that the
presentations of Cuba will be geared to communicate there
national ethos of the State and ensure that participation is
of a high order.
The cultural people in the Caribbean and Latin America
have been showing intense curiosity over what is happening in
Cuba and CARIT'STA presents an opportunity for getting a
glimpse of the Cuban cultural scene.
Guyanese poet Arthur Seymour was among the many people in
the Caribbean whose heart, in recent times, burned with a
strange desire to unravel the mysteries surrounding the
cultural as.eoct of the Cuban cultural revolution.
And then he paid a momentous visit to that country, met
the revolutionary poet Nicolas Guillon and the lot, walked
the streets of Havana...in fact got in touch with the living
rhythms of the grassroots elements.
Of one thing we are sure and that is,that Arthur Seymour
is not the same after that visit. In fact he was so impressed
with the progress t-i.in-; place in this sphere of the
revolution "that has brought literacy to every man, woman and
child in the land" that his poem "Postcard from Havana" expresses
pride and respect for the struggles of the Cuban people, and
the primacy of man over money.
Of the Cuban cultural scene he says thoughtfully:
"A new spirit is aboard in Cuba...a sense of dignity and hope
in which they have impose? the dignity of mAn over the power
of money and material things. Its literature is director drawing
attention to the sufferings of the present times but* with
"The art of Cuba is a powerful and tortured art as
symbolised in the paintings of tVilfredo Lam".
Among the Cuban participation will be the work of this
artist "whose powerful and tortured art has had a seminal
effect on the paintings of Guyanese Denis Yilliams".
The noted Guyanese poet, who is also CA-?,I .SmA Literary
Co-ordinator,says he believes that: "folklore of Cuba taps
its Affo-Cuban roots in song, dance and carnival, and this
acts as a cornentingc influence in what is predominantly a
white Caribbean country. But colour and race matter little
Further on,M1r. Seymour pointed out that in his view the
new elite in Cuba is securely linked with the masses. There
is a purposefulness in the approaches of the Cuban peoples...
an attitude reinforced bv the very sense of their being
isolated. Concluding he said, "There is a non-materialistic,
but very nationalistic approach to life that we seem to find
in Socialist Cuba today".
7Many see CARIU-Y'SA as a great in-gatbering of all the
beauties of the Caribbean and Latin America, going back to
the times when the Guanahatabeyes Indian maiden Habana went
down to the shores of Cuba to greet the first Spaniard, up
to the times of the 1959 Cuban Revolution. It is like a new
creation absorbing: the folk vibrations from Columbus to
Castro and present day Caribbean.
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In writing of this present day world that is not only
Cuba's but ours, Nicolas Guillen the Cuban revolutionary
"We've got Chinese, white, black and mixed;
but remember that our colors are cheap,
for after years of contracts and tricks
nobody's purity runs very deep.
So there's no "stable tone" as you can see.
(Step forwa-rd and speak if you don't agree)...."
"West Indies! West Indies! 'lest Indies!
hirsute, copper place where life crawls
slow with dried mud blistering on its hide.
Where the feet of every man are tired."
One of the aims of CAb--' STA is to help loosen these
bands that bind the feet of the people and smother forever
images that incarcerate the mind.
Through CA tT'YSTA the living'folk of the Cuban people
and even the inanimate sounds of Havana bells, which the
natives say has a rich thifj because of the silver and gold
that their ancestors poured into the molten bronze, will
for the first time in a special way spill over into the
wider Caribbean and Latin America.
The participation of Cuba in CAiIF2STA is testimony to
the fact that this cultural exposition transcends barriers
of race, religion or i'1cologyand embraces all our peoples.
Indeed CALIFP3T, knows no barriers ..... it only knows
the enchanting rhythms of the folk, ind grassroot things
that belong to the people of the Caribbean and Latin America,
and their embodiment in the various art forms.