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African Bantu Represented in Cuban Culture

This video represents some of the singing and dancing traditions of the African Bantu religion, which like the Yoruba religion worship natural elements.

Within these dances, you’ll find elements of many rhythm traditions including, but not limited to, Palo, Cassava, Scribbles and Makuta, with different styles and characteristics that are found in a variety of other African dances.

El Palo, for example, represented the rebellion of the slaves against their masters. They found creative ways of using tools and instruments that they used in their daily working on the plantations to defend themselves, and used the dance as a way to display and practice their skills for real combat.  Instruments and tools such as the machete, and sticks became weapons that helped them when they fled into the hills to fend off wild dogs and their foremen coming to attempt to capture them.   Scribble represented the workforce, which is similar to Palo dances but with a squiggle (piece of stick in the form of 1)

Unlike these two dances, Cassava and Makuta are couple dances.   They were usually more festive and showed the celebratory, romantic qualities of African culture.  Their instruments were rustic drums drums called Cassava, which were fixed with wooden wedges and tied with ropes, and were accompanied by a bell.

Many of their songs are preserved in their typical language, but others are a mixture of African Bantu and other languages, with  Spanish.

This Article was Submitted by Maylenis Ortega of Trinidad, Cuba.  Maylenis and I met in July of 2016 in Trinidad and fell in love dancing together in Trinidad.  I asked May to start sharing more of her knowledge with us here as she and her partner are a walking encyclopedia of knowledge, skill and talent about anything and everything related to dance, music and culture in Cuba.  

I am honored and blessed to have her as part of my team in Cuba!  I did my best to translate this from Spanish for you.  

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