BOMBA: The rhythm of Puerto Rico's African Roots displayed in NYC

MANHATTAN (WABC) -- Bomba is a musical tradition developed by West Africans along the coast of Puerto Rico dating back to the 17th Century, that continues to instill emotion and a sense of pride among Puerto Ricans and those living stateside.

This traditional rhythm which has transcended generations was showcased at Manhattan's Teatro Latea by one of the many Puerto Rican Bomba groups from the town of Loíza: The "Junte Loiceño". The group consists of 35 dancers and drummers, who perform with one mission: to educate, entertain and keep the native Afro-Boricua traditions alive.

"Bomba is the story of the African diaspora, the struggle, being in a foreign place that you don't know. This is not a trend. It's not something that all of the sudden became hip. This is something that has been preserved for years and years and when I hear it and see it being performed it fills me with pride," said Yaditza Laviera, a volunteer for the Loiza delegation.

"This rhythm was inherited in Loíza from our African roots and cultivated as a way to express our sentiments and communicate everything we know about our African culture," said Felipe Sanjurjo, Loíza native, and Coordinator for the Loíza Delegation.

The basic instruments used for the rhythm of Bomba are two barrels, a cuá (drumsticks) and a maraca.

"Bomba is a conversation between the dancer and the barrel players. The first barrel marks the rhythm, which is called "El Seguidor" and the other barrel establishes the conversation between the dancer and the "Primo" says Maribella Burgos, Director of "Junte Loiceño."

For Burgos, who has been dancing Bomba since she was four, Bomba isn't only a musical rhythm, "Bomba for me is my inheritance, my legacy, one of my reasons of being as a Puerto Rican and Loiceño, and it is our town and cultural identity."


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