UNESCO gave the nod to Cuba's rumba on Wednesday, saying it evokes "grace, sensuality and joy" as it added the genre to the body's prestigious list of "intangible" heritage.
The Cuban delegation to UNESCO's talks in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa dedicated the decision to revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who died on Friday aged 90.
Rumba originally rose to prominence in the working-class neighborhoods of northern Cuban cities such as Havana and Matanzas, before growing popular in rural areas of the country where communities of African slave descendants lived in the late 19th century.
“Spreading from the west to the east of the country, it has been a major symbol of a marginal layer of Cuban society and identity, acting as an expression of self-esteem and resistance and a tool for social outreach, helping to enrich the lives of practicing communities,” said UNESCO in a statement.
The organization said the Cuban musical genre is a unique combination of West African culture with Antillean and Spanish flamenco influences.
A rumba show performed live usually includes polyrhythmic percussion or handclapping, elaborate dancing and specific body movement, resulting in a festive atmosphere.
“The dances and chants evoke a sense of grace, sensuality and joy that aims to connect people, regardless of their social and economic background, gender or ethnicity,” add UNESCO.