History of kizomba
There are many musical genres and rhythms that we love and make us want to dance just by listening to them, but in most cases, we do not know their origin or how they became what they are today. Such is the case of kizomba, whose origins are both particular and fascinating, so we want to explore a bit about this interesting story for the knowledge of all those readers who still do not know it.
This dance modality that has become well known in Latin America and the United States in recent years has its origins in Angola in the 1960s as a fusion of ”semba” and other African rhythms, but it was not as simple as it sounds. In fact, many things happened before kizomba became what we know, some of which have to do with historical events that led to the creation of this musical genre indirectly.
Angola was colonized by Portugal in the 16th century, fact from which the European country began to impose its culture, language, religion and political system in the occupied territory. In the same way, the colonizers took advantage of the Angolans in every possible way, but the best known was the labor exploitation to which they were subjected to obtain resources and the suppression of their national identity.
The situation became so unbearable that there has been an emergence of numerous anti-colonialist movements throughout the country such as the National Front for the Liberation of Angola, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola. This resulted in the Angolan population demanding the rights they had as inhabitants from their own country and which had been forcefully taken away from them. The following years were marked by intense armed conflict, a lot of political instability and international intervention.
Finally in 1975, Angola gained independence from Portugal to become a country free from the yoke which settled down on it for decades. However, the legacy of colonization in every area of national life was so profound that it could not be swept way from one moment to another, including traditional music and dances. Both Angolan music and dance ended up mixing with European and Portuguese rhythms in general, resulting in a colorful range of sounds that have been conquering the whole world.
Origin of kizomba and its name
Returning to semba that was mentioned at the beginning, it was its union with other African rhythms such as zouk that gave origin to kizomba as such. The word ”kizomba” comes from ”kimbundú” or ”quimbundú” which means ”party”. Kimbundú is a language spoken in some Angolan provinces and the Portuguese language incorporated some of its terms such as ”xinga” which means ”curse”.
On this subject there is much controversy, since lots of hypotheses are floated to explain the origin of kizomba and one of them states that this genre does not exist as such, but it is a version of the already existing zouk, but sung in Portuguese. There are also some studies indicating that kizomba comes from ”bèlè”, which is a dance inherited from African ancestors who came to the Island of Martinique as slaves to work in the sugarcane plantations.
By mixing bèlè and the European polka, Martinican musicians created something called ”beguine”, which was spreading in Parisian popular dances. When these rhythms were mixed with more commercial music in the 1970s, zouk originated and this term makes direct reference to the spontaneous parties in Martinique. ”Zouk” means ”party” in Creole, which is a language spoken by West Indians that emerged from the mix of French with other African languages. Coincidentally, it has the same meaning as ”kizomba” in Kimbundu.
After zouk spread to French Guiana and Brazil, it returned to Africa, especially to Angola and Cape Verde, where it merged with semba and finally gave birth to kizomba.
What how is kizomba is today
Kizomba tended to be slow-paced and static and not required many turns, but that changed with the passage of time. Today, it includes legs tangled and recreates much more visual moves than before.
Something that characterizes the genre is the circle dance with forward and back steps, which has been very appealing to dancers from all over the world despite their origin. Besides, it is very easy, sensual, different and exotic.
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