Simona Esquina Changes to the Role of the Pajarito

Interviewee: Simona Esquina
Biography: Lifelong Portobelo resident, Congo “Cantalante"/lead singer, and ritual specialist Simona Esquina has been singing and dancing in the Portobelo Congo tradition since she was seven years old. Part of a family whose participation in the tradition extends more then five generations, Simona's father was the renowned King in the Congo tradition, Vicente Esquina. Simona is the great-aunt co-interviewer Gustavo Esquina.
Excerpt Description: In this excerpt, Esquina discusses the changes she has seen in the Congo tradition over the course of her lifetime. Specifically, she talks about the role that Pajarito, the Little Bird, once played in the Congo game, and the ways in which the character and the game have shifted. The construction of the road signaled the end of the game as one between neighboring Congo Kingdoms who competed to capture each others' palacio/palenque. The contemporary game is between the discrete Congo communities and the character of the devil.
Entire Interview: Listen to the full interview and read the transcript.
Interviewer: Renee Alexander Craft
Secondary Interviewer: Gustavo Esquina
Date of Interview: 7-May-03
Interview Location: Interviewee's home in Portobelo, Panama
Interview Transcribed By: Gustavo Esquina
English Translation By: Oronike Odeleye
Ethnoracial Identity Discussed: Afro-Colonial, Afrodescendiente
Cultural Identity: "Revellín" or Primary singer in the Congo tradition, Congo
Location Mentioned: Portobelo, Panama
Congo Spaces:
Congo Characters: El Pajarito/ The Messenger
Congo Tradition Mentioned: Congo game, Continuity and change
Cultural Organization: Congos
Themes Mentioned: Congo characters, Congo tradition, Cultural change, Ritual performance
Cultural Festivals: Carnival
People Mentioned: N/A
Time Period Mentioned: 1932-1946, 1947-1963, 1964-1979, 1980-1988, 1989-2003, 2004-present
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Timestamp: 00:13:54.4-00:15:17.6

Photo by: Oronike Odeleye