Passionate, polemical, and not just a little bit pedantic, 'Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango' teaches us about the impact of African culture on the music and culture of Argentina and Uruguay, but also traces the disappearance of blacks themselves.
There is no doubt that African music is at the core of the native sounds for America, Brazil, Colombia and all of the Caribbean. In Argentina, the subject is a tad more controversial. Tango is the core music of the country and its neighbor Uruguay, yet in Argentina it has bordered on scandalous to suggest that the style has its roots in Africa. A new documentary film, Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango, explores this national denial and obliterates it with abundant anthropological and musical evidence. The movie premieres Friday in New York City and Chicago and is part of the ninth annual African Diaspora International Film Festival in Washington, D.C.
The film is written and directed by Dom Pedro, an Angolan filmmaker who first took an interest in the subject 25 years ago while watching the 1990 World Cup. After seeing Cameroon upset Argentina, he began to wonder why there were so few black players on the Argentine national team when such players were commonplace on other South American teams.
Perhaps no Latin American country is as proud of their European heritage as Argentina, which is why the country’s African influence can be a touchy subject. But the fact of the matter is that the great port of Buenos Aires and other provinces of Argentina had a well-documented African presence that even surpassed 50 percent of the population during the 19th century. So it’s no surprise that Argentina’s most enduring and globally recognized cultural expression is actually deeply rooted in the Afro-Argentine tradition. Of course, we’re talking about tango.
Le cinéaste d’origine angolaise, Dom Pedro, qui s’est déjà plus d’une fois illustré à travers nombre des ses films s’est lancé un grand défi : revisiter l’histoire du Tango. Résultat : un film extraordinaire au titre, on ne peut plus, évocateur de « Tango Negro » qui suscite tant de passions et de curiosités. Courrier des Afriques a rencontré le cinéaste qui révèle et démontre, grâce au concours notamment du célèbre musicien argentin Juan Carlos Cáceres, les origines africaines du Tango, à travers la face cachée de l’histoire de l’Argentine considérée jusque-là comme le berceau de cette musique dont bien des sonorités et chorégraphies trahissent pourtant ses origines profondes. A commencer par son nom : Tango. Interview à coeur ouvert et à bâtons rompus avec Dom Pedro.
South-to-South perceptions: African films in Colombian cinemas
In Colombia, African heritage is celebrated in May. And, to commemorate the celebration this year, a group of Colombian journalists, filmmakers and cultural activists who form a collective known as SUR organized MUICA (Muestra Itinerante de Cine Africano), an African Film Showcase.
For their first time in South America (they organized a festival in South Africa last year showing Colombian films), MUICA went to three major cities of Colombia: the capital, Bogotá, and also Cali and Cartagena, two cities with a larger percentage of Afro-Colombian population.
Ever wonder about the history of Tango?
It's not really the dance craze that defines our generation. We tend to think of it as one of those "exotic" dances that we may see featured on Dancing With The Stars. However, there is a real history to tango that can be linked back to the days of slavery.
The new documentary, Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango, not only explores the African roots of this dance but also delves into the history of black people around La Plata River, which separates Argentina and Uruguay. What starts out as a simple discussion between two scholars turns into a history lesson about the connection between modern Tango and traditional African dance. This documentary also serves as a great resource that answers the question on many people's minds: what happened to all the African descendants in Argentina?
Review written by Kam Williams
Musical Documentary Examines the African Roots of the Tango.
The word “tango” means “sun” in Congolese. Given that derivation, it comes as no surprise that the dance thought of as South American might be traced back to Africa.
That explains the mission of Tango Negro, a labor of love marking the writing and directorial debut of Dom Pedro. What makes the project of educational value is the fact that Argentina, the country most closely associated with Tango, has generally been averse to admitting its African heritage.