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Explore Angola: Kizomba music helps renew Angola's cultural identity

Explore Angola: Kizomba music helps renew Angola's cultural identity
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Kizomba is a musical style that has become hugely popular in Angola in the last few decades. The word means celebration or party in Kimbundu, a Bantu language.

It developed in Angola around the capital, Luanda, starting in the 1980s and 1990s. Since then it has become a dance as well. For many it is part of the country's cultural identity. The national Kizomba championships are even a televised event.

Eduardo Paím is seen as the "Godfather of Kizomba", creating the genre in the 1980s. He regards it as a mix of many musical styles:

"It is essentially a dancing style, where I can merge styles like Semba, like Kumba, coming from the Antilles, Kadanse or Calypso, musical styles that in my time, about 40 years ago, were heard a lot".

He shared what genres influenced him:

"I grew up listening to music like Semba, like Rumba, like an infinity of musical styles, Kilapanga... being also a person with Congolese origin, I ended up also taking rhythms like Sukusse and those more dancing styles, since the music of Congo is a very hot music that suggests a lot of dance".

Eduardo Paím invented the Kizomba genre

Reclaiming a sense of identity

In 1975 Angola gained independence after almost 500 years of Portuguese rule. But the conflict was destructive and left a void in the country's cultural identity. Eduardo hopes Kizomba helps re-establish part of that identity:

"It is a way for Angola to show itself to the world that isn't the usual standards: the oil, the diamonds and the war that, fortunately, we already buried a few decades ago".

Dinamene Cruz is a TV presenter in Angola and is a fan of the dance:

"It's important for us that everyone else in the world is dancing Kizomba because we spent a lot of years hearing about Angola as something bad. Now you are talking about something good".

More than a dance

Decades after its conception, there are now Kizomba competitions, parties and workshops all over the world. Some fans even travel to Luanda to be trained by a Kizomba champion.

The Kizomba championships are a televised event

Dinamene added that Kizomba comes naturally to Angolans:

"Kizomba It's the same as drinking water... Kids dance Kizomba, young people dance Kizomba We communicate with Kizomba. You can almost see the soul of the person like dancing with her. It's our culture. It's us."

Eduardo Paím believes the genre can change people for the better:

"I think that the success of Kizomba is the beauty of it, both in its auditory form and in its choreographic form. It's a revolution that's been happening all over the world, another way of being".