[Tango-L] Kizomba, tango's African cousin

jjg jjg at jqhome.net
Sat Feb 2 12:38:05 EST 2008

Shahrukh Merchant wrote:
> Facundo and Kely claim that the Tango is traceable to the African dance 
> called "Tambo" (from where it perhaps got the name as well), which 
> continued to be danced by African slaves in the New World as a form of 
> recreation. It combined with the Cuban Habanera to give Candombe, from 
> which evolved Milonga and then Tango. I have no independent confirmation 
> of this history, but it's my recollection of something Facundo said some 
> years ago at a workshop in Boston.

There was also tango in Andalucia (Spain) and tango as a word (with various
interpretation of "holding") has been around in Spanish a long time.
Thompson's tortured attempts at etymology are not really reliable. He is about
as much of a specialist in African languages as I am. Typical is his
derivation below.

First of all, he has an attitude that Black is Black and does not
differentiate between any of them. The analog to his argument would be to
claim that something is of "European" origin then randomly quote snippets of
Greek, Russian, classical Sanskrit and French to prove it. With that much
variety heck yeah you'll find some phonetic parallels. I'll be I can "prove"
that the word "tango" is North European that way.  His comment of "well there
you go" doesn't prove anything except again that the word "tango" has been in
Spanish for a while. His statement essentially leads one to think that it
supports him, which I don't see at all. If a plantation owner talks about
"singing Negros" are we to infer they invented music?

More to the point, when I bought his book I was really looking forward to the
topic he was to address and was soundly disappointed. I think it is an
interesting theme that needs to be explored but will require someone who
intimately knows Argentina, various West African languages (and can
substantiate which are likely to have been valid sources in Argentina), types
of *authentic* African dances (so Kizomba probably wouldn't qualify) and
traditional music as practiced by the tribes in question.  S/He will also need
to know western dances (e.g. Andalusian tango) and explain why they do/do not
have any bearing on modern tango. Instead I got a chatty, mediocre coffee
table book that had me rolling my eyes almost every page.


Jeff G

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