12 August, 2009
“A Subculture Born Out OfOppression”
When most people think of Cuba they think about Havana, rum, cigars, and the iconic images of classic American cars from the 1950s. Cuba is over 750 miles long and is home to different subcultures. Havana is indeed the capital and largest city with the largest population of Santeria, a subculture that is very alive in Cuba, but once born in the Yoruba tribe of Africa in Nigeriaalong the Niger River. During the late XVIII’s the Yoruba tribe had internal and external conflicts that marked an end to Olodurame (Santeria), a religion that lasted twelve centuries ending in 1896.
Between the decades of 1820’s and 1840’s the majority of the Yoruban population was turned to slaves and sent to Cuba to work in the sugar cane lands, mines, and to build the city centers for theSpanish colony. The church tried to convert the Yoruban to Catholicism, but fail due to the fact that the same raze that was trying to show them the ways of God, was also the one who oppressed them under inhuman conditions driving the Yoruban to accept their God on the surface, but keeping their Olodurame believes on the inside. The Yoruban identified their Orishas (Gods) with the catholic saints,for example their god for strength is Shango but to fool the church they used the name of Santa Barbara, and that is how Santeria was born. In the end the strong attachment of the Yoruba to Santeria outlasted the oppressions of the Spanish colonies, after the Island was no longer a Spanish colony and the slaves became free Santeria grew with tremendous force. Today there are members from all socialclasses of Cuba, and is public for whoever desires to fallow it including Spanish descendants.
Growing up in Havana, Cuba I was very exposed to Santeria, and several times a witness of their unique and interesting rituals, and dances that combined drums, cigars, rum, and lots of dancing. Several of my friends came from families that have always been part of Santeria all of them black, during theritual the minority was always the white man they would join Santeria because they did not found their answers or what they were seeking under the house of God. People often join Santeria to solve a problem, for example a disease, an unfaithful spouse, economic problems, protection, etc. They are told that a Santero has special connections with the other side, most people do not really care ifthis connection is with God, or the devil as long as their problems are solved. Once they commit and initiation has begun they are told they most continue to fallow Santeria and their rituals in order to obtain better results. Some who oppose to Santeria believe that Santeros slowly take control over a person, to the point that the person who joins will forever live in fear of leaving Santeriabecause they can be punish by the Orisha for leaving them, they are told very bad things will happen to them. To most of people who have never experience the power of Santeria this will always be a hidden, and mysterious Subculture hard to understand.
Santeria believes in a central force that created everything that exists and surrounds us, this force is named Olodumare. Olodumare expresses throughthe created world in the form of Ashe. Ashe is the blood of the cosmic life, which is the power of Olodumare over strength, justice, and life. Olodumare also created all Orishas (Gods) to carry on his divine will, and help during the creation of the world. According to Santeria the life of each person is supervised from a specific Orisha who forms part of their daily life, during the celebration...