Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.B.7

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Cuba has nominated Rumba in Cuba, a festive combination of music and dances and all the practices associated (No. 01185) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The music and movements of the rumba in Cuba are mainly associated with African culture but also feature elements from Antillean culture and Spanish flamenco. Historically, the rumba in Cuba was developed in marginal neighbourhoods of cities like Havana and Matanzas, near other ports and shanty towns and grew especially popular in rural areas where communities of African slaves lived. Spreading from the west to the east of the country, it has been a major symbol of a marginal layer of Cuban society and identity, acting as an expression of self-esteem and resistance and tool for social outreach, helping to enrich the lives of practising communities. Performances consist of verbal and non-verbal forms of communication such as chants, gestures, handclapping, dance and specific body language. Instruments, either percussion or simply utensils from the home or work, are part of the practice. A festive atmosphere develops where the performers, working within specific cultural codes, and the audience begin to interact. The dances and chants evoke a sense of grace, sensuality and joy that aims to connect people, regardless of their social and economic background, gender or ethnicity. The practice of the rumba in Cuba has been transmitted over generations by imitation within families and neighbourhoods.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

R.1:   The file describes the rumba in Cuba as an expressive musical-dancing style with verbal (chants and vocal sounds) and non-verbal (gestures and body language) forms of communication. It is currently performed and practised within family circles and among neighbourhoods, communities and festive-religious environments throughout Cuba. It conciliates tradition and contemporaneity, and develops a strong sense of self-esteem and belonging among its bearers, particularly the ‘rumberos’ and their associates. It also combines people regardless of their gender, social and geographical status or religious beliefs, thereby strengthening social cohesion and mutual respect, promoting harmonic relationships between individuals and communities. The rumba is orally transmitted and recreated through generations both by training and imitation;

R.2:   The submitting State indicates how inscription would encourage dialogue by increasing interaction between the communities concerned locally and nationally. Since the rumba in Cuba includes elements from different roots (African, Spanish flamenco and African-Antillean) its inscription would promote respect for cultural diversity and human creativity. It would also raise the visibility of similar forms of Latin American popular traditional cultures arising from marginalized sections of society and enhance recognition of the contribution of African peoples to the cultural identity of the Americas;

R.3:   The viability of the element has been ensured through religious and festive events held by families, neighbours, schools as well as the submitting State. The file proposes various safeguarding measures which include training of practitioners, information gathering, exchanges between scholars and bearers, and research. It also explains how the submitting State will assist in these safeguarding efforts and their monitoring;

R.4:   The participation of a wide range of stakeholders (ranging from rumbero communities, groups, practitioners, non-governmental organizations, experts, as well as local and national authorities, to international associations) in the nomination process is well documented. Their free, prior and informed consent for the inscription is demonstrated through visual and written statements. The submitting State confirms that there are no customary practices governing access to the element;

R.5:   The rumba in Cuba has been included in the Automated Inventory System of the National Council for Cultural Heritage since 2012 and it is registered in the inventory of Popular Festivities initiated in 2006. The compilation and revision of the inventory data was undertaken with the participation and consent of the communities concerned.

  1. Inscribes Rumba in Cuba, a festive combination of music and dances and all the practices associated on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the submitting State to ensure the fullest participation of communities concerned in the implementation of safeguarding measures, while paying particular attention to the need for such measures to be specific and appropriate for the viability of the element;
  3. Reminds the submitting State of the importance, when promoting the element at the national and international levels, to avoid the use of inappropriate language such as ‘world heritage’ and ‘Masterpieces’.