A Cuban Freedom Fighter against the Spaniards, and a devotee of Palo:
Born June 14, 1845, Antonio Maceo y Grajales became an entrepreneur and one of the greatest military commanders of the both the 1868 and the 1895 wars for independence. His unmatched courage in combat and stalwart character were said to be Maceo's main assets in his meteoric military career. From a buck private he went up through the ranks to become second in command of the Liberation Army, also known by its Congo name, the Mambi Army. Indeed, the Liberation Army was also known as Maceo's Army. For a long time, he far eclipsed Jose Marti in importance, as Marti was abroad in exile and less well known in Cuba.
The two most memorable episodes of Maceo's military life were the Baragua Protest, when he refused to surrender his weapons at the end of the Ten Years'War in 1878, and the East-to-West invasion he carried out 17 years later when a new war broke out in 1895.
The invasion is considered one of the most brilliant military feats of the 19th century. With a small army, Maceo unleashed the war throughout the island, using the machete as his main weapon. The invasion lasted three months and the insurgents fought all the way along 1,696 km.
When the final battle with the Spanish enemy was imminent, Maceo was killed in combat on December 7,1895. He was then 51 and had devoted 32 years of his life to the independence of Cuba. He had waged 900 combats, received 26 bullet wounds and had lost his father and several brothers in the war.
It is said that besides the overt command structure in the Mambi Army, there was a second one, Congo in origin, where Maceo was the Bakonfula (translated into Spanish as Mayordomo) and Quintin Bandera was the Tata Nkisi of the prenda that the Army took with them in the field. This prenda is now said to be with Quintin Bandera's family in Regla, Provincia Habana. Shortly after the war, in 1906, Quintin was assassinated and his aide de camp, Evaristo Estenoz, founded the Independents of Color in 1908 -- their centenary is celebrated in August, 2008.
It is also said that Marti pronounced his famous dictum, "More than white, more than black, we are Cubans" when he was vying with Maceo for control of the Mambi Army. He was aided in this by the Iberian contingent, who refused to think of Maceo as other than a heavyweight fighter, negating as best they could his active mind.
According to Angel Guererro, in 1895, the year the Second War of Liberation began, Antonio Maceo was betrayed in Havana, but the members of Bacoco Efo, an Abakwá potencia in Belen, of which Lino D'ou was a member, hid and protected him. Many Abakwá members fought in the Mambi Army and, for example, composed an elite corps in the Mambi Army from Matanzas.