Villa Mella, Santo Domingo Province

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UNESCO recognition

Villa Mella is known for its retention and preservation of African cultural roots and heritage. One of the strongest manifestations of this can be found in the local, 300-year-old "cofradía" (brotherhood or voluntary association) of the Congos of Espíritu Santo. [ [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0163-0350(199723%2F24)18%3A2%3C297%3ALCDVMR%3E2.0.CO%3B2-J Carlos Hernández Soto and Edis Sánchez, "Los Congos de Villa Mella," "Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana", Vol. 18, No. 2 (Autumn - Winter, 1997), pp. 297-316] ] The Congos perform African-derived drum-centered music, primarily during traditional religious feast days, such as during Pentecost, and at funerals.

The Espíritu Santo or Holy Spirit is considered the patron saint of the area (which originally developed from bateyes in what was formerly known as Sabana Grande del Espíritu Santo), and is syncretized with Kalunga, which represents both the god of the dead and the gateway to the world of the ancestors in some traditional religions of the West African Congo subregion.

The Brotherhood of the Congos of the Holy Spirit was proclaimed a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001. [ [http://www.unesco.org/culture/intangible-heritage/masterpiece.php?id=6&lg=en UNESCO Masterpieces Site] ] In 2006, the Dominican government's Secretariat of Culture and the Museo del Hombre Dominicano, under the auspices of UNESCO, adopted a "Plan of Action" to protect and preserve the Cultural Space of the Brotherhood of the Congos of the Holy Spirit of Villa Mella. [ [http://www.lacult.org/noticias/showitem.php?id=546 Lanzado en República Dominicana Plan de Acción para la Salvaguardia del Espacio Cultural de la Cofradía de los Congos del Espíritu Santo de Villa Mella] ]

Carlos Hernández Soto, a noted anthropologist and the director of the Museo del Hombre Dominicano, has written a study on the Congos, entitled, "Kalunga Eh! Los Congos de Villa Mella", Santo Domingo: Editorial Letra Grafica, 2004.

Paul Austerlitz, in his study, "Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity" (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997), remarks on "pri-prí" (or merengue palo echao), an accordion dance music particular to Villa Mella that serves as a "secular component of religious festivals" in Villa Mella. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=91yW-jhoTwgC&pg=PA137&lpg=PA137&dq=pri+pri+music&source=web&ots=1ES3JkrCPr&sig=1OiDhDJWSifM0TZTtT6LiaSYdXg#PPA137,M1 Austerlitz, "Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity"] ]

Notable residents

* Sixto Minier
* Pío Brazobán
*Neífi Pérez

References

External links

* [http://www.svsu.edu/~kerman/MHD/Patrimonio/congos.htm Cofradía de los Congos de Villa Mella]
* [http://www.melassa.org/gallerycomunidad.htm Comunidad Mata de los Indios, San Felipe de Villa Mella]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPEEFS7RQKg Los Congos de Villa Mella on YouTube.com]


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