Nicomedes Santa Cruz: “Black Rhythms of Peru” / “Ritmos negros del Perú” – “Latin America” / “América Latina”

Nicomedes Santa Cruz
( Poeta y músico afro-peruano, 1925-1992)
“Ritmos negros del Perú” (1957)

 

 

Ritmos de la esclavitud

contra amarguras y penas.

Al compás de las cadenas

Ritmos negros del Perú.

*

De África llegó mi abuela

vestida con caracoles,

la trajeron lo´epañoles

en un barco carabela.

La marcaron con candela,

la carimba fue su cruz.

Y en América del Sur

al golpe de sus dolores

dieron los negros tambores

ritmos de la esclavitud

*

Por una moneda sola

la revendieron en Lima

y en la Hacienda “La Molina”

sirvió a la gente española.

Con otros negros de Angola

ganaron por sus faenas

zancudos para sus venas

para dormir duro suelo

y naíta´e consuelo

contra amarguras y penas…

*

En la plantación de caña

nació el triste socabón,

en el trapiche de ron

el negro cantó la zaña.

El machete y la guadaña

curtió sus manos morenas;

y los indios con sus quenas

y el negro con tamborete

cantaron su triste suerte

al compás de las cadenas.

*

Murieron los negros viejos

pero entre la caña seca

se escucha su zamacueca

y el panalivio muy lejos.

Y se escuchan los festejos

que cantó en su juventud.

De Cañete a Tombuctú,

de Chancay a Mozambique

llevan sus claros repiques

ritmos negros del Perú.

 

_____

 

Nicomedes Santa Cruz

(Black Peruvian poet and singer, 1925-1992)

 

Black Rhythms of Peru (1957)

 

 

Rhythms of slavery

Against bitterness and sorrows.

Keeping time to the beat of the chains

– Black rhythms of Peru.

*

From Africa arrived my grandmother

Adorned with conch-shells,

They brought her, those Spaniards,

In a three-masted ship.

Marked by wax and fire – the

“carimba” scar was the cross she bore.

And in South America

To each strike, in her suffering,

The Black drums gave

Rhythms to that slavery.

*

For one coin

They sold my grandmother again

In Lima

And at Hacienda La Molina

She served the Spanish people.

With other Blacks from Angola

She earned for her tasks

Mosquito bites on her veins

Sleeping upon hard ground,

And nuthin’ ain’t no consolation

Against bitterness and sorrows…

*

On the sugarcane plantation

Was born that sad “socabón” dance

In the rum-press at the mill,

The Black man sang of Zaña.

The “machete” and the scythe

Cut his dark hands;

And the Indians with their reed-flutes,

The Black man and his tambourine,

Sang of their sad luck

Keeping time to the beat of the chains.

*

They died, those old Black folks…

But within the dried fibres of the cut cane

One hears the Zamacueca dance

And the distant Panalivio.

One hears the festivities they

Sang of in their youth.

From Cañete to Timbuktu,

From Chancay to Mozambique

They carried the clear pitter-patter,

The tap-tap-tap of those

Black rhythms of Peru.

 

_____

Glossary:

Zaña: 16th-century Spanish-Colonial town in Peru – inhabited by

wealthy, pious Spanish families involved in sugar and cotton

plantations based upon African slavery and Native-Indian servitude.

Raided by English pirates in 1686 – many people were killed,

prosperous families abandoned the town, and slaves

became unexpectedly “free”… La Zaña is an Afro-Peruvian dance

originating in the town.

 *

Zamacueca, Panalivio: Afro-Peruvian dances of the 18th

and 19th centuries – the Zamacueca was a courtship dance and

the Panalivio’s lyrics often told of the trials of slavery.

*

Cañete, Chancay:  Peruvian Spanish-Colonial towns – prominent in

the 17th through the 19th centuries – surrounded by haciendas

and sugar/cotton plantations.  Large African-born and native-

born Black slave populations.

 

 

*     *     *

 

Nicomedes Santa Cruz:

“América Latina”(1963)    /   “Latin America”(1963)

 

 

Mi cuate                                    My pal

Mi socio                                 My mate

Mi hermano                       My brother

Aparcero                                 Sharecropper

Camarado                              Colleague

Compañero                        Comrade

Mi pata                                      My buddy

M´hijito                                  My boy

Paisano…                            Compatriot…

He aquí mis vecinos.                     Here I have my neighbours

He aquí mis hermanos.                 Here I have my brothers

*

Las mismas caras latinoamericanas      The same Latin-American faces

de cualquier punto de América Latina:   from every corner of Latin America:

Indoblanquinegros                      Indianwhiteblacks

Blanquinegrindios                         Whiteblackindians

y Negrindoblancos                         and Blackindianwhites

*

Rubias bembonas                         Blondes with thick lips

Indios barbudos                            Bearded Indians

y negros lacios                                and straight-haired Blacks

*

Todos se quejan:                           All of them complain

-¡Ah, si en mi país                          – Oh, if only in my country

no hubiese tanta política…!         there wasn’t so much “politics”…!

-¡Ah, si en mi país                           – Oh, if only in my country

no hubiera gente paleolítica…!              there weren’t such paleolithic people…!

-¡Ah, si en mi país                            – Oh, if only in my country

no hubiese militarismo,                  there was no militarism,

ni oligarquía                                        or oligarchy

ni chauvinismo                                  or chauvinism

ni burocracia                                      or bureaucracy

ni hipocresía                                       or hypocrisy

ni clerecía                                            or clergy

ni antropofagia…                                or anthropophagy…

-¡Ah, si en mi país…!                          – Oh, if only – in my country…!

*

Alguien pregunta de dónde soy                Someone asks where I’m from

(Yo no respondo lo siguiente):                  (I do not answer with the following):

Nací cerca de Cuzco                                     I was born close to Cuzco

admiro a Puebla                                            Puebla I admire

me inspira el ron de las Antillas                 I’m inspired by rum from The Antilles

canto con voz argentina                              I sing in an Argentinian voice

creo en Santa Rosa de Lima                        I believe in Saint Rose of Lima

y en los Orishas de Bahía.                             and in the Orishas of Bahia.

Yo no coloreé mi Continente                       I didn’t paint my Continent

ni pinté verde a Brasil                                    the green of Brazil

amarillo Perú                                                   the yellow of Peru

roja Bolivia                                                        Bolivia’s red

*

Yo no tracé líneas territoriales                         I drew no border-lines

separando al hermano del hermano.              separating brother from brother

*

Poso la frente sobre Río Grande                                I rest by the Rio Grande

me afirmo pétreo sobre el Cabo de Hornos           I stand firm at Cape Horn

hundo mi brazo izquierdo en el Pacífico              my left hand I dip down into the Pacific

y sumerjo mi diestra en el Atlántico.                   and into the Atlantic I submerge my right.

*

Por las costas de oriente y occidente                           By the coasts East and West

y doscientas millas entro                                                   and two-thousand miles inland

a cada Océano                                                                       from each Ocean

sumerjo mano y mano                                                       I immerse both hands

y así me aferro a nuestro Continente                            and in this way I hold our Continent

en un abrazo Latinoamericano.                                      in a Latin-American embrace.

 

 

*

Translation from the original Spanish into English:

“Black Rhythms of Peru”:   Alexander Best

“Latin America”:   Lidia García Garay

 


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