The Congo peoples have a lengthy and rich history within the islands of Puerto Rico that should be recognized; Tata Nkisi Alex La Salle writes that:
“There is a song within the bomba of Puerto Rico that says “hay dibu ding dibu dong, la campana suena ahora!” which makes reference to the Kongo spirit bell called Dibu. This is only one of many points of evidence to prove that the Kongo spirit was alive in puerto rico during the 19th century.On Feb 5 1859 the last known African Slave Boat to arrive directly from Africa to Puerto Rico, carrying over 1,000 people from the Congo & Angola, known as the Majesty, docked off the coast of North East Puerto Rico and sold 650 people before being caught by French and British officers. Amongst those was a man named Meliton Congo who in 1914 in the town of Loiza, was interviewed by the American Anthropologist J. Alden Mason. Meliton Congo gave a detailed account of his life in P.R. including a dictionary of over 150 KiKongo words that were being spoken in Puerto Rico at that time, words like nkisi, nganga, nguembo, tangu, leka, malafu, mpemba just to name a few. Also the American Admiral McKinnley gave a written account of Ponce in 1832 in which he specifically states that “the negroes of the city sang songs in their traditional kongo language to the sound of there bomba drums…” . These are just two examples of many that I have researched and lectured on over the years. I gave a lecture with Robert Farris Thompson and Ned Sublette in New Orleans on the Bambula of Puerto Rico. The Bambula is the oldest known rhythm of the bomba complex. It is the kikongo word for the act of re-remembering who you are as a person, tapping into the collective unconscious. This is one of the key concepts taught amongst the Kikimba, Lemba, and Kimpasi societies of the Bakongo people.”
“So we can now better understand the mambo “ah eh a la ki-bambula (2x)todo el mundo tiene paso de briyumba meno yo hmmmmmmm ah eh a la ki-bambula“. Let’s take it piece by piece.
Ah eh a la ki-bambula….
first of all when you have the prefix ki, the word takes on a philosophical meaning or a meaning that has to do with language, as in the case of the words kikongo kiluba kimbundu which translates to mean the language of the Kongo, of the luba or of the mbundu. Also when taken in a philosophical manne–as in case of the words kimoyo, kikimba, & kilemba–they take on the meaning of the philosophy of Moyo (vital life force energy), Kimba (of the initiated learned ones), or Lemba (the all powerful life & death ones). Now we can understand what the word Ki-Bambula means. It translates to the philosophy of re-remembering who we are as a people, as a nation, all while connecting to the collective unconscious in order to reconnect with who we were before, especially when before refers to a life we have not yet lived. The reason why I gave the full translation is because there isn’t a single word in the english language that properly translates the word “kibambula”.
Todo el mundo tiene paso de briyumba meno yo…..
Everybody has their connection to briyumba except me, hmmmm (as a question)
Ah eh a la kibambula
Let us collectively remember who we once were.
Ntondele (thank you) Tata Fukiau for being the first to truly translate this mambo for me.”
Tata Nkisi Eric Colon adds further understanding with the following commentary:
“To bring this even further into context, many of the Spanish settlers with slaves moved from Cuba to Puerto Rico as the historical records show.
Many of Betances travels, for instance, led him around the Dominican Republic and also to Haiti. He must have had Cuban ties and worked in contact with Maceo From Wikipedia we discover:
Immediately after returning to Paris, Betances became a key contact for the Cuban insurgency in Paris. He made several fund raising efforts, including one that attempted to fund quinine shipments to the Cuban rebels, to ease their pain when infected by malaria in the island battlefields. These efforts outlasted the Pact of Zanjón, which ended the Ten Years’ War in 1878. Betances also used his diplomatic contacts to guarantee humane treatment (and eventually freedom from imprisonment) to José Maceo, the brother of Antonio Maceo, the later military leader of the Cuban War of Independence, when both Antonio and José were arrested by the Spanish government in 1882. The Maceo brothers both escaped imprisonment, were recaptured in Gibraltar and turned over to the Spanish authorities, but José remained in jail long after Antonio regained his liberty and fled to New York City. Betances even used Lord Gladstone as a mediator, and attempted to convince him of having Jamaica (where his family had properties) join an Antillean Federation”.