La Tumba Francesa, is a traditional cultural dance, song, and drumming style that emerged in Oriente, Cuba by Haitian black slaves who were resettled in the island’s eastern regions following the unrest in Haiti during the 1790s.
The tumba francesa combines music from West Africa and traditional French music. "Tumba" derives from tambours, which is French for drums. It is one of several Haitian drumming styles that produces a very vibrant sound, often accompanied by trumpets, usually played by Cuban bands. The dance form, much like the affranchi dance form of Haiti, which involved a series of straight-backed, held-torso, French style figures and then African-styled improvisation on the final set, but this dance was performed to drums instead of the string and woodwind instruments. The clothes of the dancers are colorful and flamboyant.
It embodies one of the oldest and most tangible links to the Afro-Haitian heritage of Cuba’s Oriente province and developed from an eighteenth- century fusion of music from Dahomey in West Africa and traditional French dances. Performers identified the tumba francesa as French-Haitian identifying a product of Haiti, which now resides in Cuba.
After Cuba’s abolition of slavery in 1886 and the resulting migration of former slaves to urban areas in search of work, tumba francesa societies emerged in several cities. The drums are played in both Santiago de Cuba and Haiti today.