“Even though this culture is of African origin, even though it is hundreds of years old, it is still very much alive here in Oriente." --- Roberto Sánchez Vigñot
|Roberto Sánchez Vigñot|
|Director, Cutumba Folkloric Ensemble|
A very large percentage of Cubans living in the areas of Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo and surrounding provinces are of Afro-Haitian descent. This is evident in peoples' surnames, in the food, in the demonstration of folklore such as the Tumba Francesa, in the relatively common use or knowledge of creole, or patois as it is commonly known, and in many other cultural manifestations.
The Ballet Folklórico Cutumba, or Cutumba Folkloric Ensemble, was established in 1959 in order to preserve and extend such Afro-Haitian expressions of Cuban culture. Roberto Sánchez Vigñot is the Director of Cutumba, and has worked with the Santiago-based ensemble since he was 17 at the time the group was founded. Here he speaks about the role of Afro-Haitian culture on the Cuban landscape, about the challenges in developing and maintaining an ensemble dedicated to the preservation of such culture, and of the cultural life of Oriente, Cuba's eastern region.
|Interview With Roberto Sánchez Vigñot © 1998 - Louis Head|
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