A thousand concerts will get Colombians dancing on Tuesday as the nation celebrates its bicentennial of independence with parties in every part of the country.
A Grand National Concert will take place simultaneously in 1,102 municipalities across the Andean nation, as well as 44 other cities around the world to mark the victory in the fight for independence.
Two hundred years after Simon Bolivar and Francisco de Paula Santander led a revolution against the Spanish colonists, Colombians are now ranked as one of the happiest nations in the world and have developed a proud sense of identity.
“The Colombian has the joy of the Spanish, the pride of the Argentineans, the pragmatism of the Germans, the humility of the Bolivians, the French taste, and the budget of the Peruvians,” says actress Alejandra Azcarate.
Writer and historian Gonzalo Espana celebrates the country’s liberty. “I think … we are free, we are not slaves of another power, like the United States; this is indirect, nuanced, not like before when the Spanish rulers were here,” he told El Tiempo.
Birth of a nation
Rebel movements were sprouting in various forms across Colombia in the early 19th century, but none initially proved strong or organized enough to topple the Spanish imperialists.
On July 20, 1810, however, Antonio Nariño led the Bogota uprising which won independence in various sections of what was then New Grenada. A bloody civil war between federalists and centralists consumed the nation for the next nine years as the revolutionaries fought over how the country would be governed.
This instability allowed the Spanish to reconquer Colombia, which stoked further rebellion, leading to the final proclamation of independence by Simon Bolivar in 1819.
The Vice Royalty of Grenada became the Republic of Colombia, and a nation was born.
A 200th birthday party doesn’t come around too often, and Colombia is a country well-practised in putting on a rumba.
Tuesday’s events will focus on two wildly different parts of the diverse nation. Bogota will play host to music and theater performances in the Plaza de Bolivar, while Quibdo in the Pacific department of Choco will be the musical epicenter of the celebrations.
Colombian pop star Juanes will rock the Choco crowds with support from up-and-coming singer Tanya Maku, who was selected to perform a duet for the event.
Juanes said that Choco was selected as a focal point for the festivities in order to “make a concert in another region of the country, which is symbolic, where history and the future are built from our diversity.”
The concert will include local groups playing traditional rhythms, such as Bambazulu and Saboreo, alongside artists from around the country, bringing together the many styles of music which help to define the nation.
Medellin on Monday organized a fireworks display billed as the largest and most spectacular in Colombia’s history to mark the bicentennial, and will join the 1,202 cities around the country staging a Grand National Concert with music in the Paseo de Carabobo.
The Barranquilla version of the Grand National will be held in the Romelio Martinez stadium and will feature artists such as Dr Krapula and Dragon & Caballero.
In Cartagena, 80 young musicians representing fourteen countries around the continent will stage the inaugural performance of the Colombian Youth Philharmonic Orchestra with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas. A sound and light show will complement the classical music as the historic coastal city sees in the bicentennial.
Celebrations will fill every corner of Colombia on Tuesday. From the squares of small Andean pueblos to the beaches of the Caribbean, to the plains and jungles of the south, Colombians everywhere will be moving to the same rhythm.