The syncretic religion in which Africa, Cuba, Roman tradition join together through the drum
Santeria (Way of the Saints) is an Afro-Caribbean syncretic religion based on Yoruba beliefs and traditions, with some Catholic elements added, that grew out of the slave trade in Cuba. The religion is also known as La Regla Lucumi and the Rule of Osha. It emerged in Cuba during the 17th century, and has been embedded in Cuban society ever since. These days, it’s far more prevalent than Catholicism in Cuba, which is still the religious center of Santería, although the faith has spread to many other countries as well, including the U.S. Santería is popular throughout all of Cuba, but the cities of Santiago, Havana and Matanzas have the largest number of followers. In fact a large number of slaves were imported to Cuba via Matanzas during the 19th century, and Santería gained a strong following here and became an important site for Santería followers.
Santería’s roots can be traced to the Lucumí religion, which was practiced by the Yoruba tribes of modern-day Benin and Nigeria. Slaves from West Africa were imported to Cuba in the 17th century, and they brought their religious tradition with them. The slaves were banned from practicing their own religion, so they disguised their gods as Catholic figures and continued to pray to them as they pleased. As such, in Santería Catholic saints represent Yoruban divine beings, known as orishas. For centuries, Santería was practiced in secret, and survived orally from one generation to another. After the Revolution, Santería was openly acknowledged but was criticized by the government as being folksy witchcraft. In the 1980s, there was a resurgence of interest in Santería, and today it’s estimated that up to 80 percent of the Cuban population follows Santería practices.
Is called religious syncretism the combining of concepts and terminology from different religions (in this case Catholicism and Lucumí). In the minds of many Cubans, the two religions parallel one another, rather than existing as one unified religion. They also don’t see contradictions between the two faiths. Practitioners attend Catholic mass and might even baptize their children, while also practicing forms of Lucumí in their home. In fact, in the house of a Santero, like me, you can find statues of Catholic saints alongside orisha symbols.
According to this faith there is one God who created the universe and the world is cared for by lesser divine beings known as orishas, which represent various forces of nature along with certain human characteristics. The orishas are thus not immortal, but depend on human devotion and sacrifice to survive. Every follower is assigned to an orisha who will guide him or her throughout life. Santeros often have statues of saints in their home, and may even have altars with statues of saints and orichas and with pastries, candles, fruits, and coins are offered to them. There are no official churches or temples in the religion. As such, ceremonies and rituals are usually performed at home or in public. They are of fundamental importance because Santería culture the whole faith is passed down orally. Santería ceremonies being performed in Plaza Dolores—these usually include dancing, chanting, drumming and objects like feathers, candles, bones, stones and herbs.
A journey into the world of rhythm through the drum and the "contaminated" music of a Neapolitan percussionist who became "Babalawo". History, knowledge, information and personal experience from Cuba to Partenope (Naples): from the ritual Batà drums, traditional music, santeria and Yoruba religion of the afrocuban culture to the "Napoletanity" and the Neapolitan traditional song.