Calling Puerto Ricans to Their African Roots With the Sound of His Drum

Reblogged from Repeating Islands: Calling Puerto Ricans to Their African Roots with the Sound of His Drum

Repeating Islands


This article by David González appeared in The New York Times.

Jose Ortiz stood on the steps of the Andrew Freedman Home on the Grand Concourse, a gorgeous Bronx palazzo bathed in sunshine, his barrel drum by his side. Before him, on the lawn, a circle of people gathered, passing a calabash or sage leaves as they blessed one another. As the faint scent of gardenia and lavender wafted through the air, Mr. Ortiz straddled his drum and played.

This was not a performance. It was life. In his case, this instrument of wood, metal and hide had transformed him into Dr. Drum, a man on a mission to reconnect Puerto Ricans with their roots, not just on their island, but in Africa. He is a leader of BombaYo, a troupe that plays bomba, one of Puerto Rico’s traditional musical forms.

This week, the city will once again…

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Eleanor Parker Sapia

Puerto Rican-born, Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning, historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a Finalist in the 2016 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now, and was Book of the Month with Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. She is featured in the award-winning anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. Eleanor is currently working on her second book, The Laments, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. Eleanor is a writer, artist, photographer, and blogger, who is never without a pen, notebook, and her camera. Her wonderful adult children are doing wonderful things in the world, which allows Eleanor the blessing of writing full time. Please visit Eleanor at her website: