From our friends at Appalacian State University

Every now and then we receive that age old question, “Where does the word ‘Chombo’ come from?”  We attempted to trace its evolution first from a term meant to identify, to a term meant to offend to, at present, more a term of endearment.  Our article Chombo was our first attempt to explore the evolution of this term which has caused so much hurt and controversy in Panama and abroad.

Today we’re posting yet another poem penned by Mr. Louis Emanuel which we thought worthy to post here especially during Black History Month in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.  It’s humorous twist brought a smile to our face and we guarantee that it will raise even more questions in our present world which is more concerned about the rights of corporations than it is about human rights.  I believe it will also invite us to embrace our Chombo-ness!  Please read, enjoy and send us feedback.


By Louis Emanuel

As a term of endearment, so crafted to be
An Italian sailor, who lost his sails at sea
Encountered a land, which in fact seemed
To be west of India, so did history decree.

Many sailors alit from three ships, the crew
A cute young lass sighted, there in plain view
Columbus summoned her, some say it’s untrue
“Ven aca mi Chomba” a friendly word used.

Centuries elapsed, thus Panama was created
Men ventured to that land, readily and unshaken
A railroad, the canal, toiled by Westindian natives
Their earnest contributions, historically degraded.

Then Chombo morphed into a despicable term
Towards a people their descendants, whom came
To help build a country, which is now not the same
By a canal which provides, untold wealth and fame.

A number of our young, has so often refrained
To speak their parents’ language, being ashamed
Of their ancestry, in the past when laws declaimed
Silver people their labor, being visibly disdained.

Yes! “Chombo” they say I am, and will readily admit
If the meaning of such word, has a context that fits
The heritage that labored, on this canal that was built
A wonder of our world, for a infinite number of ships.

4 responses to “Chombo

  1. Please change my email address to:   I was glad to read your story on “Chomo” & have shared it.  Thank you, I was never sure & hence never used it. God bless all “the Silver People”. Louis Seldon Keller (DFW area), TX Cell # 954-610-5121 Panama Cell # (011-507) 6649-9815 Blog: Facebook:  Panama, land of my heart Panamá tierra de mi corazón


    • Louis,
      We subscribed you under your new e mail. You will receive an e mail notification to confirm. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. We think you and your blog are great too!


  2. If Christopher Columbus used the word chombo as a term of endearment, referring to a native woman in the New World, I don’t think the word is still used in Spain today.
    Words are born , some die a fast and quick death, others majestically live on, while a tiny few, scramble to survive, sometimes even changing their original meanings and taking on new ones. The Mystery of Words.


  3. I embrace my Chomboness. That makes me very special. The blackness comes from melanin that is made by the pituitary gland in my brain. Mela means “black” and “in” is “in”. So melanin is a word used to describe the Egyptian black person. So if I am Black, that means I am closer to the color of the dirt God made Adam from. So if Chombo means “Black”, I am being called by my name, so I cannot see it as a derogatory term. The intent has been changed today in the Spanish-speaking world today to be more a term of endearment: “Tu eres mi Chombo o’ mi Chombito,” no longer damages self-esteem. What do you think? Bette Ann Davis de Roebuck de La Boca, C.Z.

    Sent from my iPhone



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s