100 years before the Mayflower, Spanish were transporting kidnapped Africans to Cuba. People from the Oyo region, now Nigeria, brought with them Yorubá beliefs, beliefs inseparable from the batá drum…
“The batá drum, an hour-glass shaped drum played on both ends, possess great historical and religious significance in African-Cuban culture. Batá drums are the foundations of African-Cuban music; three drums of different tonality, maintaining a poly-rhythmic beat found all genre of Cuban music and dance, including jazz, hip-hop and salsa.
Yorùbá culture adsorbed other African beliefs along with Catholic Saints, melding into what is known as Santería. The Black Madonna of Regla is celebrated in Santería festivals as the Orisha Yemayá, Goddess of the Sea.
From deep roots in batá and Santería; music, art and dance define a Cuban culture that begins and flows from homes and neighborhoods. Some art expression begins in a kitchen studio and expands to include the entire neighborhood.
With such passion for the arts, encouragement and instruction begins with and includes all the young.
With embargoed art materials in short supply, community teachers use old newspapers fill the void. And when teaching music, and there’s no access to slide boards, computer mixers or electric instruments, an inexpensive acoustic guitar will do just fine.
No American cars or auto parts have been available since the continuing 1961 embargo. The Cubans have had to persevere and make do. Most American cars on the road are 1950’s vintage or earlier. Some American cars have been plowing roads continuously for over 60 years!
During the 1990’s, known as the “Special Period”, with the Cuban economy near collapse and precious little fuel, cane trucks were brought out of the fields to serve commuters…And still remain today as thrifty means of transportation.
I can make No sense out of why an embargo…Because there’s no sense to be made. Perhaps soon, rationality will prevail and again, art and people from our two communities can flow freely.
From Santiago de Cuba, Bayamo and Havana Cuba,
This is griot Historan
Jumal Okeyo Jumal
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