Group Title: CARIFESTA I - 1972
Title: Colombia and Carifesta by Oliver Hunter
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: Colombia and Carifesta by Oliver Hunter
Series Title: CARIFESTA I - 1972
Physical Description: Archival
Publication Date: 1972
Spatial Coverage: Guyana -- Georgetown
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00099660
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text


Oliver Hunter

Colombia "The Emerald of the Spanish Main" with its 22,000,000

polyglot peoples including 400 indigenous Amerindian tribes, strange

Capo Negroes, mestizo, mullato...brings to CnRIFESTA '72 an exciting

potpourri of folklore, legend, music and dance and touches of their

dazzling pro-Colombian glory.

It is the singular difference of this culture with its rhythmic

expressions of Cumbia, Bambocos, Quebinas, Tiple and Rasta embodying

folk elements of Spain, Africa, the Chibchas and fabulous Incas that

will on one hand thrill and educate and on the other forge bridges of

understanding for the many peoples involved in this "cultural wonder

of our Time".

The beauty of the Colombian cultural arena comes out in the ritual

and pomp of the indigenous peoples, sometimes pure, often n rich and

colourful blending.... it comes out in their revolutionary literature,

painting and spills over into the streets of Baranquille,

floyaco and unknown jungle villao-s in the dense Amazon in the form at

scintillating Ils and n.y bacchanal.

However, it is the Indian aspect of Colombian life that will weave

a web of awe on the CARIFEST'. stage. It can be said that the world of the

Colombian Indian lost its purity with the coming in 1499 of Alonso de

Ojeda and his gold thirsty Conquistadors, but its beauty to a great

degree has remained intact.

Indeed with the coming of the Europeans and later the slaves from

Africa to work on the Colombian sugar plantations also came the new "era

of the mixed blood" -- the mestizo (Indian/White), the mullato (White/

Negro) and the Zambo (Indian/Negro) -- an era in which there was a

unique blending of peoples and cultures and it is out of the womb of

this blending that the Colombian that we know today has emerged.

r ...2/

LC f r .e L A \N
Ii y~
De ^ U /1 ^ .

- 2 -

The Colombian is a man who loves his past that has its roots in many

lands. But it is the Indian aspect of this past which dominates the

Colombian folk scene and the arts.

And maybe it is fortunate that they can catch vivid glimpses of this

past that dominate the scene.

At the ancient fortress of Facatativa the Zipa Indians left a number

of still undeciphered hieroglyphics carved and painted on boulders and in


At the San Augustin Archeological Zone the people have dug out

hundreds of towering monolithic statues (some humorous, some grim) dating

as far back as 555 B,C,, and resembling the giants of Easter Island...

suggesting that a race of giant Indians must have walked the land long

before the now known indigenous peoples. Even the Ruminch s bridge built

by the scientific Incas can be seen tpday after thousands of years.

All this thought-provoking past has bben woven into folk and this folk

will be presented in all.its beauty at CARIFESTA.

Today the people still talk of Tunja, Capital of Boyaco, where their
deeply religious forefathers turned vast amounts of gold and emeralds into

sacred idols. And how, when the Conquistadors under Rendon came to the

Blue Mountains of Boynco they ordered the Indian piaimen to collect all

of their precious idols into the sacred temple.

The temple was set on fire and the sacred jewelled idols vanished

forever from the sight of the Indians only to appear in Europe where they

were used in adorning the bodies, crowns and palaces of their imperial


If one wants to feel the living throb of the Colombian culture

that will be portrayed in part at CARIFESTA one must loose oneself in the

rhythms of their many festivals which have a singularity of their own.

Glimpses of these festivals will erupt on the CARIFESTA scene.


- 3 -

The Colombian the Castina loves merrymaking, and their festivals

touching on religion, folklore, nature and sports in addition to

patriotic themes give occasion for much merrymaking.

In November, Cartagena goes wild for a week; and their festivals

touching on religion, folklore, nature and sports in addition to

patriotic themes give occasion for much merrymaking.

In November, Cnrtagena goes wild for a week; and the week before Ash

Wednesday is occasion for a one-week bacchanal. It is the same during July

at Santa Merta, the oldest city in the New World, where the Fiesta del

Mar imprisons the polyglot masses in gay abandon.

Bogotals Colon Theatre, situated some 9,000 fiLt above sea level

provides the setting for other festivals of the arts taking form in ballet,

opera, folk art, drama and music etc.

It is felt that the cultural centre of Colombia is the Caribbean

motivated Baranquilla which the people call "una ciudad loca" The
Crazy City.

Here the crowds fill the city day and night dressed in exotic costumes

and masks. The Baranquillian spectacles of the Feast of San Rogue and

the buri3. of "Juoelito CaInaval" is spectacular beyond the wildest


It is however felt that the most unique display on the Colombian

cultural scene is still that of the "Battle of the Flowers" and the

"Feast of the Virgin of Candelariaf....when pilgrims travel thousands of

miles through dense and treacherous Amazonic jungles, crossing a thousand

rivers in order to perform the sacred rite atop the sanctified Mount La

Pope which they climb carrying lighted candles in their hands.

Every country coming to C..RIFESTA will be portraying the many aspects

of its culture in a form that will transcend barriers of language and

shatter w08ls of mis-understanding which may exist in any form among the

peoples of the Caribbean and Latin America.


4 -

From the shores of Colombia, which is the only South American

country to be kissed by both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, will

emerge one such cultural exhibition full of exciting contrasts.

The Colombian participation will add to CARIFESTA beautiful images

of their fierce Motilone Indians of Norte de Santander who attack settlers

and travellers...of the shy Ticunas of the Amazon and Narina basin who

disappear when strangers are around; and of the To.ranos who hide in

the high sierras where they can see strangers but are never seen.

They will portray in song all the beauty of a golden past. For a

much believed legend among the indigenous Indians in Colombia today is

that of the fabled City of El Dorr-do.

It is believed that the Chibchas who once dominated the land that

is now Colombia had a gilded king whom every year was anointed in

fragrant oils then covered in gold dust after which he took a

ceremonial wash in Lake Guatavite,

Many of these Indians feel that the Conquistadc1re with their lust

for the sacred gold had caused a curse to come on the City of El Doradp,

The curse came in the form of an earthquake swallowing up the Golden


Of the few events that have inspired Colombian art there are few

to parallel the decisive battle of Boyaco.

This incident that brought about the final defeat of -S nish forces

in the New World is now part of the folk and an occasion for yearly

festivals, parades and colourful frenzied bacchanal in Colombia.

The leader of this battle Simon Bolivar is now a national hero and

much of Colombian art revolves around his triumphs. One catches

glimpses of the spirit of the Colombian when one views the Salt City

of Zipaquira carved out of a mountain of salt that was once exploited

by the Chibchas Indians,

5 -

One catches glimpses of the Colombian folk in the Zambo dance

*Cumbia", where the girl in dazzling costume helds a lighted candle while

dancing to the tantalising sound of m-ny-stringed "tiple" and "raste" gourd

rattle, one also catches glimpses of this folk..., in the "Parros" and

"Merccumbus" incorporating rhythms of the Capoes and the

sculpture, songs and dances of the gentle Putomoyo Indian who have

impressed visitors to Colombia for many a century,

Colombia at CrRIFEST. will mean a fusion of the Caribbean and Latin

America; of the pre-Colombian post and the New World present. It will be

a momentous going back to the times of 555 BC. and beyond when sombre giants

roamed the land and to more recent times when the country rightly earned the

title "Emerald of the Spanish Mrin".,

Colombia at CARIFEST, can only leave indelible images on the mind....

images more beautiful than the jewels taken from a thousand dazzling

Colombian temples*

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs