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Congo dances and Caribbean gastronomy in Portobelo
The 4th Congo Pollera Festival will take place in the historic town of Portobelo, Colón province, on Saturday, April 14. This will be a family day which will allow locals and visitore to enjoy and get to know the songs, dances and traditions of this important component of the Panamanian identity, which is the Afro-colonial culture.
The main objective of this biennial cultural and tourist event organized by “Fundacion Portobelo and the “Grupo Realce Histórico de Portobelo”, is to reinforce the conservation process, development and dissemination of the rich tradition of the region, focusing especially on the invaluable contribution of the escaped black women slaves in the history of these populations and the survival and conservation of all manifestations of the so called “conga or congo culture”, since the slavery era.
The “congo pollera”, was the traditional dress of the black women during colonial times. It is made with a diversity of fabric and the trend is to mix discordant colors. Certain elements vary depending on the rank. The queen is the only one who can use a crown, a veil (she needed to maintain her identity secret for her own protection), scepter and complete white attire (after her coronation) and her sash representing the struggle for peace and freedom.
The 4th Pollera Conga Festival offers a day of activities which will include the sale of traditional drinks and food from the Colón coastal region, a photographic exhibition, an aquatic parade with boats from each participating town, the “congo pollera” parade through the town streets, and the great “congo” group encounter with guest delegations on the main stage. Festivities end with a drum circle in the Central Square.
The “Pollera Conga Festival” complements the “Congos and Devils Festival”, which aims to highlight the presence and contributions of men within this culture and which also takes place every two years. For that reason they take turns to offer the public a different festival every year, but with the same roots. For more information call 6279-6896 and Facebook: @fundacionportobelo.