The African Cultural Influence in Cuba



Religion of the Orishas


Religious Figures


Divine Correlations


Garments of Worship


Altars of Worship


Music and Dance



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Santeria is a religion descended from and influenced by Yoruba cultural practices in West Africa, particularly Southwestern Nigeria.  The tradition developed in Cuba during the eighteenth and nineteenth  centuries as a result of increased slave trade.(IV) english/santhist_side1.html


Priests and priestesses of the Orishas were enslaved and brought to the Americas.  They provided the ability for many other Yoruba slaves to maintain their religious faith and continue traditional rituals and customs in the Caribbean.  As time passed, the Yoruba people and culture adjusted to new, outside influences.  The fusion of Yoruba practice, other African traditions, and the official Roman Catholicism of Cuba resulted in what is now called Santeria.  This name is derived from the Spanish law which forced slaves to participate in Christianity.  They began referring to their Gods, or Orishas, by the Spanish word Santos, meaning saints.(VI

"Kama ya iya...
Let us not tear ourselves from mother
Let us never abandon our mother tongue
Let us never forsake our way of worship
Let us never sever the bond with our people
Leaves of life
Leaves of river and sea will save us
Come with me to the hill of joy
Where all leaves pull off easily...
-Traditional Yoruba Song (VI)