To talk of WemilereWe must go back to ancient times, to the colonial times when African slaves arrived in Cuba bringing with them new beliefs, new culture and a new faith that was strongly rooted in the Creole identity, in the island mix.
To refer to Afro-Cuban dance, we must first remember more than a million slaves brought to Cuba from Africa between 1523 and 1853, which gave way little by little in the XNUMXth century, to the formation and crystallization of the true Cuban identity.
For this reason, African dances with touches of religion and worship of deities, were today assimilated as a form of Cubanness and belong to the cultural heritage of the nation.
Dances of religious origin
Most of these dances of religious origin come from the Lucumí Yoruba peoples of Nigeria, and contain in their steps, the worship of the Rule of Ocha religion to deities and orishas, syncretized in Cuba with the Catholic saints.
They dedicate ritual and ceremonial dances to them that are accompanied byañan with parties called wemilere.
The wemilereTherefore, they are celebrations that include religious elements and elements of joy and folklore, those in which homage is paid to the Orishas through their characteristic dances, which imitate their movements and qualities.
WemilereAccording to some researchers it means “meeting of all the orishas” and according to others, “secular festival dedicated to the orishas”.
They are known as "drum", "bembé", "toque", "toque de santo", depending on the place where they are developed and the instruments used. In these festivities it is common for them to be ambient with the traditional three batá drums and also with bembé drums, güiros, violins, among others.
Wemilere, a popular term in Cuba
Nowadays, Wemilere is a cultural term in Cuba, which designates and represents Afro-Cuban culture.
We can exemplify with the African Roots Festival Wemilere which takes place in the capital city of Guanabacoa, and has great popular acceptance.
This Afro-Cuban celebration includes, among many other exponents of Cuban-African roots:
- an African Salon of Plastic Arts,
- Literary Forum on Afro-Cuban culture,
- Percussion and Dance Workshop,
- Wemilere in the Neighborhood,
- the infantile Wemilere,
- Popular Fair "El diablito".
Recitals, talks, conferences and Afro-Cuban shows are also part of these festivities, all aimed at strengthening identity and consolidating culture.