Somehow I’ve ended up helping to cater a party in Havana, and a burly, jovial architect called Rafael is asking me whether I’ve heard of Radio Bemba. Basically it’s the Cuban grapevine: “Bemba” is a slang word for big lips, and the expression has its origins in the way Fidel Castro communicated with his men in the 1950s when they were holed up in the Sierra Maestra building the revolution. Today, in a nation where the only official media are state-controlled, Radio Bemba has become shorthand for the word-of-mouth information network, which is by far the quickest (and often the most reliable) way to find out about anything from baseball chat to celebrity gossip to news of the latest defection to the United States.
PUBLISHED: July 12, 2011
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3446 words)