Sounds of the Soul by Susan Campbell
“Aruba our dear country, our rock so well beloved, our love for you is so strong, that nothing can destroy it.” Ask any Aruban to sing the national anthem, and they will break into a soul stirring rendition of Aruba Dushi Tera (“Aruba, Precious Country”), the harmonious hymn that truly speaks from the heart. Until the island became an autonomous state within the kingdom of the Netherlands in 1986, the Dutch song Wilhelmus van Nassouwe was the country’s official national anthem. Aruba first petitioned for independence in 1948, but it wasn’t until 28 years later that Arubans were able to celebrate their own national day. Meanwhile, a popular duo of
local musicians, Juan Chabaya “Padu” Lampe and Rufo Wever, collaborated on a song to promote a national consciousness. Originally, they didn’t set out to write an anthem, but once people heard Aruba Dushi Tera, with its wonderful waltz-like melody and heartfelt lyrics, emotions were instantly ignited. The composition was chosen to accompany the unveiling of the new flag on the island’s first National Anthem and Flag Day on 18 March 1976. Some of its poetry is lost in translation from the original Papiamento, but the sentiment remains clear.
You can listen to the official sound of the Aruban soul online at www.visitaruba.com/facts/general/anthem.html
Illustration by Richard Marin. Photos by Pierre Arsenault