Cuba's May 17-25 Cubadisco music trade fair will be dedicated to "Africa, its Diaspora and Music."

Each year Cubadisco pays tribute to a guest country or region. This year's 11th edition will focus on the Caribbean region in general; last year's guest country was China.

"Cuba has always exalted its cultural roots, and this will be an extraordinary opportunity for the Cuban people to be able to verify the deep musical links between Africa, the Caribbean and continental America," comments Cubadisco 2008 honorary president Rogelio Martinez Furé.

"The music of Africa and its diaspora, both traditional and contemporary, is like a river of ever changing waters, not only in the Americas, but also in Europe. We hope this will be celebrated at Cubadisco 2008."

A special pre-Cubadisco event dubbed "the world's longest rumba" will cross the Caribbean island to include all provinces, beginning May 3 in the Guantánamo province in the far east of the country. The music marathon will travel around the island before arriving in Havana on May 16 just prior to Cubadisco's inauguration.

The two-week event, to be broadcast live nationally by Radio Progreso, will feature tributes to the great exponents of Cuban rumba music, such as Chano Pozo. In each province, local rumba bands will play their versions of popular songs by Pozo and other "rumberos."

During the Havana fair itself, workshops are planned to demonstrate Afro-Cuban percussion and dance.

The first Cubadisco in 1997 staged "the world's longest son," a series of Havana concerts featuring Cuban son that lasted 110 hours.

Cubadisco 2004 introduced the concept of extended non-stop music carried throughout the island. The epic music event that year lasted 336 hours and was broadcast live on Radio Progreso.

The Cubadisco 2008 awards, honoring Cuba's domestic and regional musical successes during 2007, will be presented at the Karl Marx Theater on May 17.

The opening Cubadisco concert will take place at the Amadeo Roldán Theater on May 18, and an African gala with artists from that continent will be held at the Karl Marx Theater on May 24. A special "spiritual night" will be held during Cubadisco 2008, when various Cuban and foreign spiritual and gospel ensembles will perform.