The Marimba Path, an initiative dedicated to an instrument of African origin, has been launched with the intention to recover the folklore of descendants of black slaves along Colombia’s Pacific coastline.
According to news site Noticias 24, the Colombian Ministry of Culture has set up and encouraged this musical initiative to promote and protect the culture of Colombia’s large black population – second only to that of Brazil – concentrated along the Southern Pacific coast.
The region has long been synomimous with Colombia’s Armed Conflict and has suffered the scourges of violence acutely. It is an area dominated by guerrillas, paramilitaries, drug traffickers and Army Forces.
The architect of the Marimba initiative is the Minister for Culture, of African descent herself, who collaborated with the “Women’s Network” in the region to launch the musical project. In almost two years since its creation, the Marimba Path has facillitated the set-up of traditional music schools across 14 Colombian municipalities where teachers are trained to instruct students as well as build the instruments.
The Marimba itself is a melodic percussion instrument made predominantly from wood, similar to a xylophone. It is alleged to have originated in the Congo, Malawi and Mozambique. The Colombian Marimba differs from its African counterpart in that it is made from ‘chonta’ wood – a palm native to the Amazon – which produces a distinct sound.
The Ministry of Culture hopes to have Marimba music as well as the songs from the South Pacific coastline added to the UNESCO list of protected, intangible cultural heritages.