Tambú: Curaçao's African-Caribbean Ritual and the Politics of Memory

By Nanette de Jong
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Indiana University Press, 2012

ISBN 978-0-253-22337-1

182 Pages


As contemporary Tambú music and dance evolved on the Caribbean island of Curaçao, it intertwined sacred and secular, private and public cultural practices, and many traditions from Africa and the New World. As she explores the formal contours of Tambú, Nanette de Jong discovers its variegated history and uncovers its multiple and even contradictory origins. De Jong recounts the personal stories and experiences of Afro-Curaçaoans as they perform Tambu–some who complain of its violence and low-class attraction and others who champion Tambú as a powerful tool of collective memory as well as a way to imagine the future.


Introduction/Introducktorio: Get Ready! / Poné Bo Kla!
Part 1. Habri: Here It Is, the History of Tambú! / Até Aki, Historia di Tambú!
1. The Story of Our Ancestors, the Story of Africa / E Kuenta di Nos Antepasados, e Kuenta di Afrika
2. Told through the Fierce Rhythms of the Drum / Kontá pa e Ritmonan Furioso di su Barí
3. The Laws Couldn't Keep Tambú Away. The Church Couldn't Keep Tambú Away. / Leinan No Por a Tene Tambú Lew. Misa No Por a Tene Tambú Lew.
Part 2. Séru: Get Ready! Get Ready! / Poné Bo Kla! Poné Bo Kla!
4. Prepare for the Arrival of Our Ancestors / Prepará Bo pa e Jegada di Nos Antepasados
5. Clap Your Hands! / Bati Bo Mannan!
6. Come for the Party / Bin na e Fiesta
Conclusion/Conclui: Are You Ready? Are You Ready to Hear the History of Tambú? / Bo Ta Kla? Bo Ta Kla pa Tende e Historia di Tambú?
Glossary of Terms Referring to Tambú
List of Interviews


Nanette de Jong is Senior Lecturer at the International Centre for Music Studies, Newcastle University.

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