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What were the Cabildos? ≫ An African legacy from Colonial Cuba

The town councils

By the nineteenth century, the African legacy had been closely linked to traditional popular and religious culture, with the maximum splendor of the birth of Cuban identity in Matanzas, the city with the greatest variety of religious expressions such as the Rule of Ocha, the Iyessá Rule, the Arará Rule, the Palo Monte Rule, and the Abakuá Secret Society.

For this reason, the City of Cuban Bridges is famous for hosting the largest councils on the island, called Cabildos de la Nación.

Three of the main ones were the Iyessá Modú “San Juan Bautista” Council, the Arará “Espíritu Santo” Council and the Lucumí Takua “Santa Teresa” Council.

Also in Havana the Cabildo "Sangó" and 21 more were created that were dedicated to maintaining the African idiosyncrasy.

As we can see, these associations were always entrusted to and under the protection of a representative Saint of the Catholic Church.

The Cabildos that united religions of African origin in Cuba

The town councils they were associations of black African slaves, allowed by the Spanish government in colonial Cuba.

It is said that the Spanish decided that these meetings could allay the fear of slave rebellions and thus make it easier to control them.

Cuban researchers explain that these councils grouped black Africans belonging to the same nation or tribe, and there mutual aid was practiced, relief in case of illness or death and traditions were continued through different religious expressions, songs and music .

It was the cabildos, which maintained African religious practices and tribal customs, so that they did not disappear in colonial times.

In a hostile land, they saw in it the way to continue their Africanism and gave rise to the transcultural process that today continues and enriches Cuban roots.

The precursors of Afro-Cuban culture: The town councils

When the Spanish government at the end of the XNUMXth century decided to dissolve the Afro-Cuban cabildos, free slaves began to build societies.

Thus, the members of the old town councils and other practitioners of popular religions of African origin, gathered in the so-called "temple houses" and were initiated by "godmothers" and "godfathers", giving rise to the current samples of the practice of African religious expressions.

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