By Dialogo January 01, 2010Route of the Marimba revives Afro- Colombia n folk music The sound of bass drums, rainsticks, marimbas — an instrument similar to the xylophone — and long conical bongos known as “cununos” can be heard once more in Colombia, thanks to a Ministry of Culture plan to restore the musical heritage of Latin America’s second-biggest population of African descent after Brazil. The Route of the Marimba program seeks to revive the folk music of the descendants of African slaves on Colombia’s Pacific coastline, an area under constant threat from the Andean nation’s decadeslong internal conflict. The program was launched along the southern part of the coast, a region that includes the provinces of Nariño, Cauca and Valle del Cauca. The designer of the plan is Culture Minister Paola Marcela Moreno, herself an Afro-Colombian, who has taken up the challenge of promoting the culture of this people and bringing them out of isolation. In almost two years, the Route of the Marimba has led to the creation of traditional music schools in 14 municipalities. It has also assisted musicians in marketing their music for global consumption and in construction of the folk instruments to maintain the tradition.