Tue. Mar 21st, 2023

The African slaves from the west, carried their Yoruba religion with them when they were brought to Brazil and Cuba. This religion is referred to as Candomblé by Afro-Brazilians — a religion that seeks harmony with nature. This culture and religion are still very much relevant and gave birth to the Òrìsà-worshipping, and Yoruba-speaking people of Brazil.

Brazil National Flag

After a national meeting of African-Brazilian storytellers, It was alleged that the Brazilian minister of culture, Dr. Sérgio Sá leitão announced that Yoruba is now one of their official languages. According to multiple reports, he said African language and History will be introduced as compulsory subjects in the primary and secondary school curricula.

However, the Brazilian Ministry of Culture has denied this and will keep us updated on further changes.

In attendance at this meeting, in Quilombola, were big names such as renowned Professor Wole Soyinka, Dr. Sophie Oluwole, the first female Ph.D. holder in Yoruba Philosophy, and painter and illustrator Adeyinka Olaiya.

If this move is made, it will do well in bringing Afro-Brazilians closer to their roots and help them better understand the link between the current Brazilian practices and Western Yoruba cultures.

But Cuba, an island in the Caribbean has a lot of Yorubas. More than 80 percent of the Cuban population are either worshipper of different Yoruba Orishas or are Santeria believers. The worshippers of Orishas can be seen all over the island in their all-white outfits but are distinguished by the colors of their special beads. The beads are symbolically colored to denote key attributes of the Orisha – for example, the color blue represents Orisha Yemaja. Red denotes Sango, white is worn by followers of Obatala, yellow by worshippers of Orunmila, and purple by the believers in Obaluaye.

Yoruba Idol worshipers in Cuba

It was said that during slavery on the Island of Cuba, the slaves (most of whom were trafficked from the Yoruba Kingdom) would use incantations and drum beatings to communicate and relate with each other. This annoyed the Spanish slave traders, who were equally concerned about the success of the slave revolt in neighboring Haiti at that time and feared the same fate in Cuba. 

Trinidad was a historic city towards the east of the Island. It was a key stranglehold of the slave trade with people trafficked to be used for labor on sugar plantations, the ruins that still dotted the area.

What helped them survive the evil and brutality of slavery up till this day was their strong beliefs in the power of their Orishas. This strong belief has been passed on and retained through the generations.

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