The African Roots and Meaning of Bunde

When Colombians hear the word BUNDE, most will think of the music familiar to Tolima. There is also a musical tradition called Bunde, also called Chigualo, found on the Pacific Coast. It's origins are believed to be from the Wunde of Sierra Leone, in Africa.

On the Pacific Coast, the term BUNDE has come to refer to a type of song used at the wake for dead Afrocolombian children, yet it is typically not sad, but festive. (The word Chigualo is used when the song is for a deceased adult.) The Bunde is a funerary right in which the pain over the loss of a loved one is transformed into joy. The happiness is caused by the belief that the the soul of the child has entered into the Spirit World. The Bunde is sung while accompanying the the decorated casket in a processional march. The march moves three steps forward and two back. The song is followed by a brief poem:

Yo soy la primer madrina (I am the first godmother)
que me vengo a presentar. (I am coming to introduce myself)
Y sí el niño está dormido, (If the child is sleeping)
yo lo vengo a despertar. (I come to wake him up)

There are also Bundes of religious exaltation. These are called ALABAOS. These are dedicated to Saints and are typically sung a capella, though in Chocó, these can be accompanied by drums. The most famous Alabao is San Antonio. Here are two versions for your listening enjoyment.


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