* "Chronology" and part of "Coastal Foklore" have been translated by Martha Ojeda, Kristin Cardona, Lauren Garvey, Lacey Lillard, Brandy Baldwin, Lorrie Keeling.



June 4. Nicomedes Santa Cruz Gamarra was born on the fourth of June in Lima, Peru, on Sebastian Barranca, 435 in the district of Nuestra Senora de las Victorias (popularly known as "La Victoria"). He is the ninth of ten children. His parents were the playwright Nicomedes Santa Cruz Aparicio (1871) and Victoria Gamarra Ramirez (1886)ía de la Cultura Afroperuana. 

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Nicomedes Santa Cruz, five years old.



Pilade dies. He was a little black child, twice the age of Nicomedes, that used to look for him at night, and would recite decimas to him that he learned from his father. This first contact with the decima would continue with el panalivio, festejos, habanera, vals antiguo, and the decimas that his mother sang during the day while she worked washing clothes.

- Part of his early schooling was completed at the "Sebastian Barranca" school. Later, his family moved because his father was named the head mechanic at La Hacienda Lobaton. He registered Nicomedes at the Jose Galvez School.



Upon finishing his fifth year of primary school, his mother took him to Nicanor Zuniga, a locksmith, where he could learn the trade. This would be the beginning of his knowledge of the trade. 



He meets Porfirio Vasquez (1902), decimista and folklorist. Thanks to this encounter, he becomes reacquainted with the oral traditions he learned from his mother. In these past years, Nicomedes had composed silvas, sonnets, and formal verses, but he was not satisfied with these poetic forms.



23. His brother Rafael (1928) debuts as a bullfighter in the Acho bullring in Lima. 



He is already a master of the blacksmith trade and he has his own helper. It wasn't unusual for Nicomedes to write his poems on the back page of the plans he was given to make the grille.



July 3. He hears again the Decima recited by Porfirio Vasquez, and at that very instant, he engages in an improvised poetic dialogue. He responds with a 'planta' to the poem dedicated to him.

His brother Rafael became officially a "matador" in Acho (Lima). During that time, Nicomedes was better known as "the brother of the bullfighter."

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Playing football.



December 16. He launches his own blacksmith shop named "HERRERIA Y CERRAJERIA SANTA CRUZ" beside his house, on Jirón Pastaza 651, in Chacra Colorada, Brena.



- April 25. He abandons his blacksmith shop and travels throughout Peru and other Latin American countries reciting his decimas. He himself considers this act a search for his destiny.

- Upon his return, he acts as a commentator in the performances of the Pancho Fierro musical company. Later, its name would be change to "Ritmos Negro del Peru" (Black Rhythms of Peru)




 May 11. He debuts in the Municipal Theater in Lima, integrating the black magazine "Estampas de Pancho Fierro" (Images of Pancho Fierro).

01.Imagen. 02.Imagen.

June 15. As part of the same Company, he makes his radio debut on Radio Corporation of Santiago, Chile. 03.Imagen. 04.Imagen 05.Imagen. 06.Imagen

He joins the group "Fiesta Criolla" (Creole Fiesta)

July 10. His father dies.


October. The record "Gente Morena," edited by Odeon, makes its premiere. Side A contains glosas and decimas by Nicomedes; on side B, he participates together with other artists in Serenata Criolla and Musical selections.



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Nicomedes y Vicente Vásquez, openning day.

He abandons the group "Fiesta Criolla" and starts collaborating with guitarist Carlos Hayre.

07.Imagen. 08.Imagen.

June 1. He publishes his first newspaper article, "Ensayo sobre la Marinera" (Essay on Marinera) in the Suplemento Dominical of the daily El Comercio.

09.Imagen. 10.Imagen.

July 26. He participates in the first televised commercial program in Peru (channel 7). 

11.Imagen. 12.Imagen.

He is invited by the students at the University of San Marcos to give lectures on "La decima en Hispanoamerica".

Toward the middle of the year, he forms the group "Cumanana"

Because he is a blacksmith, he is able to make, and later donate, the wrought-iron gate that would form part of the mausoleum of the Peruvian composer, Felipe Pinglo. During the project, he has the collaboration of his brothers Pedro (friend of Felipe) and Cesar, his nephew Octavio, and of the craftsman Miguel Artista del Aguila.

13.Imagen 14.Imagen 15.Imagen. 16.Imagen. 17.Imagen.

December 10. The presentation of the group "Cumanana" in the Perricholi Theater in Lima.




April 29. His mother, whom he deeply cared for, dies. This loss will be devastating for him; it will cost him a great deal of time and strength to overcome it.

The release of the record "Nicomedes Santa Cruz y su conjunto Kumanana," edited by Virrey. In these first years, it is written indistinctly between "Kumanana" and "Cumanana".  19.Imagen.

The bookstore and publishing house Juan Mejia Baca publishes the book "Decimas" in Lima.  20.Imagen. 21.Imagen.

Toward the end of the year, he begins collaborating with his sister Victoria Santa Cruz (1922).




March. Victoria and Nicomedes premiere, in the Theater "La Cabana", the works "Callejón de un solo caño" (original comedy by the two brothers); "Academia folklorica" (comedy by Victoria); and "Zanahari" (ritual choreography by Victoria).

23.Imagen. 24.Imagen.

El Virrey releases the records "Inga" and "Decimas y Poemas Afroperuanos."

25.Imagen. 26.Imagen.

He participates as a founder of the daily Expreso of Lima.

His brother Pedro dies "A Monumental Black person," as Nicomedes defined him.

27.Imagen. 28.Imagen. 80a.Imagen 80b.Imagen 80c.Imagen.




1- April 14. With Victoria, he debuts in the Teatro Principal Manuel A. Segura, the 3-act drama "Malato," originally written by Victoria.

He becomes involved in politics through a party, which he never joined. He abandons the project the following year.




Victoria departs for Europe with a scholarship from the Teatro de las Naciones, of Paris. Nicomedes becomes deeply involved in journalism and the theater company becomes inactive.



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Canal 13 (TV Rio). Río de Janeiro - Brasil. 1963.

February 16. He recites the decima 'Basket-ball" at the Nacional Stadium, during the inauguration of Southamerican championship basketball. 

He travels to Brazil. During his stay in the country, a fundamental experience in his life, he writes some of his most important poems: "America Latina," "Formigas pretas", "! Ay mama!". 


Returns to Perú, he regroups "Cumanana".



The Libreria-Editorial Juan Mejia Baca prints 10,000 copies of the poetry collection titled "Cumanana".

30.Imagen. 33a.Imagen 33b.Imagen 34.Imagen. 35.Imagen.

December. Phillips label releases the first edition of the record anthology, "Cumanana" (2 lengthy records, and a libretto). It is the first time in the history of Peru's recording industry, that a work is edited with national themes, giving it the luxurious format of European operas or symphonies (a fine cardboard box, various long-play,explanatory inserts,etc...)

36.Imagen. 37.Imagen.


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At the recording studio.














The second edition of the album Cumanana is released.

38.Imagen. 39.Imagen. 40.Imagen.



Studium prints 10,000 copies of the poetry collection "Canto a mi Peru".



April. He travels to Salta (Argentina), heading the Peruvian delegation that participates in the third Latin American Folklore Festival.

41.Imagen. 42.Imagen. 43.Imagen.

June/July. He participates in the 'Encuentro de la Cancion Protesta', celebrated in Cuba.



He begins his daily radio program "Así canta mi Perú".  02.Audio

December. He marries, in Madrid, the woman who will be his great support for the rest of his life, the Spaniard Mercedes Castillo Gonzalez (1936). He would always refer to her as "My faithful companion". 



January. Returns to Peru.

September. His first son Pedro Nicomedes is born.



The third edition of his record Cumanana is released.

44.Imagen. 45a.Imagen 45b.Imagen.



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Nicomedes and Pelé.

In Peru, Campodonico Editions prints 2,000 copies of "Decimas y Poemas. Antologia"

In Argentina, Editorial Losada prints 3,000 copies of "Ritmos negros del Peru".

The record "Canto Negro" is released, edited by Sicamericana.  47.Imagen. 48.Imagen.

August 29. Nicomedes presents "Primer Festival de Arte Negro" (Negro Art Firs Festival) in Cañete, Perú.

September 26. Porfirio Vasquez dies.

October. His second son, Luis Enrique is born. 




The record "America Negra" is released, edited by FTA. (Anthology of poems by diverse authors, recited by Nicomedes). .  49.Imagen.



In Argentina, Editorial Losada reprints a second edition of 1,500 more copies of revised and expanded version of 'Ritmos Negros del Perú' (1971).

February/March. He participates in the Festival de Cosquin (Argentina).

50a.Imagen 50b.Imagen 51a.Imagen 51b.Imagen 52a.Imagen 52b.Imagen

June 30. He does a radio interview with Victor Jara, for the program "America canta asi," (Jara was to offer a recital in Lima that same day) organized by the Peruvian Cultural Institute. This interview forms part of the Victor Jara Foundation archives, one of the Chilean songwriter's last interviews. He was assassinated ten weeks later 01.Audio mp3. 6.64MB 7:16


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Dakar. 1974.  

January (first week). He travels for the first time to Africa where he participates in the conference "Negritude et Amerique Latine," with his lecture "Aportes de las civilizaciones africanas al folklore del Peru". Dakar, Senegal.  53.Imagen.

May. He participates in many recitals in Buenos Aires, with the Argentine singer and composer Cesar Isella.

54.Imagen. 55.Imagen.

July. He participates in the meeting "Un Cantar del Pueblo Latinoamericano," Cuba.

Mid-July. He travels to Mexico, invited by Rene Villanueva, leader of the group Los Folkloristas, to participate in the television program series "Encuentro," under the direction of Lic. Alvaro Galvez Sifuentes, where he also performs various recitals in different university auditoriums.

56.Imagen. 57.Imagen.



El Virrey releases in Lima the album "Socabon," composed of two long-plays and a booklet. "Socabon" and "Cumanana" are the most important records of Nicomedes. 58.Imagen.


D.Nicomedes Santa Cruz Aparicio horas antes de partir a EE.UU.
Japan. 1976..  




September. He is invited to travel to Japan.  59.Imagen. 60.Imagen.






He is invited to the inauguration of the Convenio Andres Bello headquarters, where he participates in a roundtable discussion about Cultural Integration in Latin America. Bogota, Colombia.



He participates in Carifesta, '79, Cuba.




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With Oswaldo Pugliese. 1980.  


March 17-21. He participates in the "Consulta de iglesias Latinoamericanos sobre cómo enfrentar el racismo en la decada de los 80" (Consultation of Latinamerican churches on how to confront racism in the 1980's), where he delivers his paper titled: "Racismo, discriminacion racial y etnocentrismo" ("Racism, discrimination, and ethnocentrism"), Panama.  61.Imagen.

September 20. Although in the beginning it was only a visit, he eventually moved to Madrid, Spain.

November/December. He gives a seminar, "Presencia cultural del negro en Iberoamerica" (Cultural presence of blacks in Iberian America), at the Colegio Mayor Hispanoamericano. Madrid, Spain.



November 26. Presentation in the Institute of Iberian-American Cooperation, of the concert "La Raiz del Canto." The Argentine guitarist and composer Cesar Isella, and the Spanish group Quirquincho will perform with Nicomedes. Madrid, Spain. 14.Audio 31,4MB 34:24


March 11. He participates in the tribute to Nicolas Guillen, given by the Association of Hispanic-Cuban Friendship. Madrid, Spain.  62.Imagen.

March 30 - April 4. He travels to Mexico where he participates in the 'Primer Festival y Foro del Nuevo Canto Latinoamericano'. In this meeting, he presents two lectures: "La Nueva Cancion en el Peru" (The New Song in Peru), and "Identidad Cultural Latinoamericana y Nueva Cancion" ("Latinamerican Cultural Identity and New Song.") In Mexico he develops an intense artistic and intellectual activity. He appears in concerts in the National Auditorium and the Auditorio de la Reforma, in Puebla.  63.Imagen. 64.Imagen.

June. He begins to work for Radio Exterior de España.  Ejemplo de programa: 03.Audio mp3. 15,1MB 16:35

November 24, 25, 26. He participates in the International Forum on the Nueva Cancion that is celebrated in the first Festival Internacional de la Nueva Cancion. Varadero-Cuba.



June. He quietly returns to Peru, to get some of the books from his library, which he hadn't been able to take with him to Spain in 1980.- (Taking advantage of his stay in Peru) The Institute of Peruvian Studies presents Nicomedes' book "La Decima en el Peru," the first study and anthology of the topic in the country.  65.Imagen. 79a.Imagen 79b.Imagen 79c.Imagen.

October 23-30. He participates in "Latinoamerica en Argamasilla de Alba," organized by the Colectivo Literario de la Casa de Cultura of that area. Saturday, the 29th, he gives a conference titled: "Raices hispanas en el folklore del Nuevo Mundo" (Hispanic roots in the folklore of the New World). Sunday, the 30th, Nicomedes gives a performance, reciting his decimas and well-known poems before a public that gets to know him enthusiastically. Ciudad Real, Spain. 



June 2-8. He travels to Malabo and Bata, in Equatorial Guinea- Africa, where he participates in the First International Conference on Afro-Hispanic Culture.



July 8-12. He participates in the Consultation on Black Culture and Theology in Latin America, with his lecture titled "Aportes del Negro al Cristianismo en America" (Contributions of Blacks to Christianity in America). Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).



He visits Havana, Cuba, invited by INTUR to the Laboratorio Cultural FolCuba- '86.

October 8. Radio Nacional de España grants him the fourth International Radio Award "Espana" for the program "Los Mejoraneros Panamenos" (Chapter 8 of the series "Juglares de nuestra America").  Audio entrevista a Nicomedes: 04.Audio mp3 4,07MB 4:27 66.Imagen.


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International Radio Award.  1986.



He collaborates in the preparation of the series long-play "Espana en su Folklore" (Spain in its Folkore), for Radio Nacional de España, consisting of a collection of songbooks from Spain and America.

July. The guitarist Vicente Vasquez dies (1923). He had been a close collaborator of Nicomedes since 1957.

September. He returns to Peru, as a special guest of the Council of Latin American Cultural Integration (CICLA), to participate in the second "Encuentro Musical Latinoamericano de la Nueva Canción." 67.Imagen. 68.Imagen. 69a.Imagen 69b.Imagen 69c.Imagen. 70.Imagen.

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On the stage with the cuban musician Elio Revé. Lima - 1987

November/December. He participates in the jury that will grant the "Premio Radio Exterior de España" in the 13th edition of the Film Festival of Huelva, Spain.



He participates in the second Iberian-American Congress of Human Rights Organizations, in Extremadura (Spain). Aside from his lecture, he was also presenting the journalist to cover this event for Radio Nacional de España.



He reinforces the programming of Radio Exterior with anticipation of 1992, with the introduction of programming in Quechua and guarani. 71.Imagen.

He is sent by Radio Nacional de España to Paris (France) to cover the meeting of indigenous people, convened by the AMERINDIA92 program, at the headquarters of UNESCO

September 6-11. He travels to San Juan, Puerto Rico, invited by the University of Puerto Rico, where he participates in the International Conference "Persistence of African civilizations in the Caribbean," with his lecture titled, "Flow of the Afro Caribbean Cultural Tide".

The Center of Investigation and Social Action in the Caribbean, CIASCA, invite him to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where he gives a seminar on African culture. He performs in various recitals.

 72a.Imagen 72b.Imagen 72c.Imagen 72d.Imagen.



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Nicomedes Santa Cruz and Rafael Allberti. 1990.

July 19. The Peruvian government, through his embassy in Spain, grants him the "Órden al Mérito por Servicios Distinguidos en Grado de Comendador" (for his distinguished services).

September/October. He participates in "Aventura 92" (92 Adventure) an expedition on board of the "Guanahani," steered by the Spaniard Miguel de la Quadra-Salcedo that travels through the ports of Yucatan, Puerto Limon, Panama, Cartagena and Puerto Rico. Nicomedes, with the other professors on board, gives a series of conferences to 500 young people ages 16-17.  73a.Imagen. 73b.Imagen 73c.Imagen.

December 3. He represents Peru in a tribute rendered by Iberian-American poets in the "Circulo de Bellas Artes" (Madrid, Spain), to the poet Rafael Alberti to celebrate his 88th birthday. 74a.Imagen. 74b.Imagen. 74c.Imagen.



D.Nicomedes Santa Cruz Aparicio horas antes de partir a EE.UU.
His last public appeaance.

March 11. His brother Rafael dies.

September/October. He takes part once again, in the expedition "Aventura 92," following the itinerary Huelva-Santo Domingo, La Guaira, Rio Orinoco, Rio Amazonas (Amazon River), Canarias (Canary Islands) and Cadiz

November 15-17. He participates in the "V Encuentro Antropología y Misión", organized by the magazine Mundo Negro (Black World) where he presents the lecture "El Negro y su Canto: su aventura de la poesia oral y escrita en America." (The Black and his Song: his adventure in oral and written poetry in America) Madrid, Spain.

 November 27-29. He participates in the "Primer Congreso de Estudios Africanos en el Mundo Iberico," organized by the University Complutense of Madrid with his lecture, "Africania de la Cancion Danzaria en Nuestra America." This will be his last public appearance.



At age 67, after a few years of battling lung cancer, as well as a surgical intervention in the Clinical Hospital of Madrid, he passes away on February 5. His ashes were spread by his family over the mountains of Madrid (Spain)



© Nicomedes Santa Cruz Gamarra