Rumba y Congo Workshop, 5/03
y Congo Workshop, 12/02
© 2001 Pedro Pérez Sarduy
Poet Eloy Machado "El Ambia" reading one of his
afro-cubacentric poetry to Pedro
Pérez-Sarduy in May 2001, in Havana.
Full-Length Image of El Ambia 12/19/2008 Cuba Now: "There
are powerful voices among those who defended El Ambia and believed in him since
very early. First Cintio Vitier and Fina García-Marruz understood his message
was genuine. Then, when Nicolas Guillen heard the lines of Camán Lloró, he
said: “That is the Songoro Cosongo of these times” and immediately made the
arrangements to have him “stop smashing stones in construction work” and
hired him in UNEAC (the Cuban National Union of Writers and Artists) where he
"El Ambia", as he likes to be called in the familiar
brotherhood of the Abakua secret society, is Artistic director of La Peña
del Ambia, a twice a week Afro-Cuban 'yard' session at the headquarter of
UNEAC, the Union Writer & Artist of Cuba, in Vedado, Havana.
El Ambia is author of Soy Todo, the 1990's poem was musicalised by the
famous popular band Van Van and translated by Jean Stubbs co-author of
Afro-Cuba, An anthology of Cuban Writing on Race, Politics and Culture
(London/Melbourne, 1993 -where we featured the poem). When the song used to
be performed in Cuban outdoor venues the public gets wild by the invocation
lyrics of Van Van singer, 'Mayito', with improvisation and majestic
salutation to the Afro-Cuban orishas. It was critised by some officials, but
to no avail:
I am all that
I am the poet of rumba
I am danzón, echo of the drum.
I am the mission of my roots,
the story of my slum.
I am life slipping by,
I am the colors on a string of beads
keeping my roots alive.
I am chili pepper,
I am hot,
I am the step of Shangó,
step of Obbatalá
laughter of Yemayá,
bravery of Oggún,
the marble of spinning-top of Elegba.
I am Obbá,
I am Siré, siré,
I am Aberiñan and Aberisán,
I am reason in the puzzle,
the man who brought light
to Obedí the Hunter of doubt,
I am the hand of truth,
I am Arere,
I am conscience,
I am Orula.