In this way Cuban identity is allowed to peacefully coexist with religious affiliation, as long as you remember you are Cuban first.
Being Cuban first was a common theme throughout the trip.
At 78, Martha stole the show with stories about “Mangos” or juicy women, and stolen kisses she had with a coworker she was pursuing. Her descriptions and reading of a poem she’d written her love interested had me in stitches.
Religion with African Roots in Cuba
The following meeting was at the community center of a Cuban artist Salvador Gonzáles Escalona. His center highlights the influences of slavery on Cuban religion, dance and art. The man who led me through the center was very clear that: “There is no African religion in Cuba, only Cuban religions with African roots.”
The three main religions with African roots that still exist in Cuba today are Santería, Palo Monte, and Abakuá (a secret society just for me).
Santería, meaning ‘worship of saints,’ combines elements from the African religion of the Nigeria’s Yoruba tribe with Catholicism. Many of the Santería gods, or orishas, bear a resemblance to Catholic saints. Because Santería exists in harmony with Catholicism, the most common religion in Cuba, the religion is popular.
My favorite orisha was Changó, god of fire, thunder, music and dancing. His favored animal is the turtle, which is why he quickly drew my interest #TurtlesRock.
Cimafunk’s very name is derived from the term cimarrion, or a person who escaped slavery and fled into the mountains and caves in the Cuban countryside. Yet, he was reluctant to discuss either his own heritage as an Afro-Cuban or the influence on his music outside of “American culture” he heard on his uncle’s cassettes while growing up.
He did, however, describe his music as “alternative fusion.” And if you visit his website it’s clear that fusion comes from a mix of Cuban music and African rhythms.
My favorite quote from the conversation was - after a bit of back and forth where he seemed reluctant to discuss his heritage or musical influences but had admitted he got his start singing in church as a child - I asked if he still sang in church. Cimafunk laughed and said, “I left the church. I am the church now.”
When I first spoke with him, he hadn’t yet visited the United States. But that won’t have lasted long as Cimafunk will be in DC performing in on Thursday in DC - and guess who got tickets?!
My name is Hunter and this the blog of my worldwide adventures. The purpose of this blog is to show that you can be a traveler, not just a tourist.