Against bitterness and pain
To the beat of the chains
Black rhythms of Peru
1 My grandmother came from Africa adorned in shells, Spaniards bought her in a caravel ship. They marked her with fire, the branding iron was her cross; and in South America, between blows of pain they gave blacks drums, rhythms of slavery.
2 For a single coin they sold her in Lima and in La Molina Hacienda she served the Spanish. She and other blacks from Angola earned so much from their work; mosquitoes to suck their blood, hard ground to sleep upon and nothing to console against bitterness and pain.
3 On the sugar plantation the sad socabon was born, and at the rum press black people sang the zana. The machete and scythe cut at brown hands; and Indians with flutes and blacks with timbrels sang unhappy fortunes to the beat of the chains.
4 The old died, but in the cane fields the sound of the zamacueca could be heard and the panalivio, far in the distance. And one hears the courting songs my mother sang in her youth: from Canete to Tombouctou, from Chancay to Mozambique, clear notes carry black rhythms of Peru.
-- Nicomedes Santa Cruz