Study the Teachings of Ifa

The brother of Christopher Columbus (Colon), Diego relocates in Cuba Diego Velasquez is appointed Governor of the island by Spain. When the Spaniards arrived in 1511, the local Taíno people offered a great feast as a welcome for them. After the party the Spanish soldiers turned on the natives. They were killed and disemboweled in a vicious attack. The Taino Chief Hatuey was burned at a stake after this carnage.
(The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America.[1] The Taíno language is a member of the Arawakan language family, which ranges from South America across the Caribbean. At the time of Columbus' arrival in 1492, there were five Taíno chiefdoms and territories on Hispaniola (modern day Haiti and Dominican Republic), each led by a principal Cacique (chieftain), to whom tribute was paid. Puerto Rico also was divided into chiefdoms. As the hereditary head chief of Taíno tribes, the cacique was paid significant tribute. Caciques enjoyed the privilege of wearing golden pendants called guanin, living in square bohíos instead of the round ones that the villagers inhabited, and sitting on wooden stools when receiving guests. At the time of the Spanish conquest, the largest Taíno population centers may have contained over 3,000 people each.)

The Spanish Crown permitted Amador de Lares, 4 Africans as slaves of Spanish. This is the first documented evidence that African slaves were brought to the island of Cuba.

Pánfilo de Narváez establishes the city of Havana. It was named after a local chief named San Cristobal de la Habana.

More Africans abducted from their homelands arrive at Cuba in small numbers.

December 17  The first Roman Catholic mass is celebrated in Havana, under a Ceiba tree. (Ceiba is the name of a genus of many species of large trees found in tropical areas, including Mexico, Central America, South America, The Bahamas, Belize and the Caribbean, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. Some species can grow to 70 m (230 ft) tall or more, with a straight, largely branchless trunk that culminates in a huge, spreading canopy, and buttress roots that can be taller than a grown person. The best-known, and most widely cultivated, species is Kapok, Ceiba pentandra.)

Seven years after the first small group of African slaves arrived in Cuba, the first large group of African slaves, 300 in total, it was brought to work in the goldmines.

The first uprising of slaves in Cuba occurs: 4 unknown slaves working in the mines of Jobabo. Struggle with the army; they fight to the death. To quell the fear of the settlers, the heads of the four men are cut and displayed in Bayamo.

Local slaves, aided by French pirates, burned Havana.
at the time there were only 6 towns in Cuba.

The Spanish Crown allows a rich mercantile group to begin importation of African slaves to Cuba.

The Council of the city of Havana issues a decree which forbids Africans from owning taverns or inns. It also prohibited them selling tobacco or wine. The punishment for the offence 50 lashes with a whip.

The Council Shango was started in Havana. This is the first such organization formed in the island.

September: A Royal Decree governing the sale of tobacco doubled the fines for breaking this law. And if the offender is black. In addition to fines they would also receive 200 lashes in public.

There are 18 sugar mills established in the city of Havana. While all employ slave labor, none has more than 26 slaves.

Havana becomes capital of Cuba, replacing Santiago de Cuba.

Blacks, Mulattos and Mestizos are prohibited by a Catholic Synod from entry into Catholic religious Orders. Blacks can not seek asylum within a Church, nor can they sing at burials.

A Papal Synod instructs priests in Cuba to start the conversion of Africans to Catholic beliefs.

The Spanish crown issues a decree allowing slaves to purchase their freedom. Those who do so are known as "cortados".  (as in chains have been cut)
300 slaves revolt in Quiebra-Hacha, a sugar mill in the western part of Havana. It took military intervention to restore Government rule. Records indicate that between 1760 and 1769, 8.22% of all slave labor in Cuba was performed by a African of Yoruba origin.

Extensive slave hunt incursions in the Yoruba Lucumi territories in West Africa begin.

This year Cuban census shows the population of the island as follows:
172,620 inhabitants.
96,440 white,
31,847 (Free Blacks)
44,333 African slaves.

With the work of slaves, sugar plantations produce 4,700 tons of sugar this year.

The Yoruba population is among largest in Cuba.
On May 31, 1789, King Charles III issues a new Codex for slavery. From the age of 17 until the age of 60, blacks were to work on Cuban fields. Work is limited to only 270 working days per year. The slave masters are expected to feed and clothe slaves according to accepted standards. Owners are required to instruct them in Catholicism and persuading them to attend mass regularly. However, the regulations are rarely enforced.

23% of all residents in Cuba are black slaves. Between 1791 and 1805,
91,211 slaves are brought through the port of Havana.

In Saint-Domingue (Modern Haiti). As a result of the slave uprisings, the French colony, that was formerly the largest producer of sugar and indigo in the world (accounting for 40% of France's foreign trade) exits the international market.
Cuba begins to take advantage of the sugar vacuum, and that requires more slaves.

Nicolás Morales, a free black, leads an uprising, beginning in Bayamo and spreading throughout the eastern part of Cuba. It is quickly suppressed by the Spanish army. What is especially disturbing to the slave-owners was that whites and blacks joined together in the revolt and demanded, as in the Haitian revolution, racial equality. Cuba produced 14,000 tons of sugar.

Cuba now produces 34,000 tones of sugar each year.

The Council Afrocubano is founded in Matanzas. These are African mutual aid societies based on ethnic identity. Many in the Councils worked to buy the freedom of the most influential members of the priestly societies.

Jose Antonio Aponte and 8 of his accomplices are caught and thrown in prison. He was a free black man and Commander a militia who organize a revolt of slaves and free people of color to overthrow slavery and Spanish colonialism. This uprising was known as the conspiracy of Aponte. On April 9, 1812, at 9:30 in the morning: José Aponte and the other accomplices are carried to the scaffold. Aponte’s head is displayed in an iron cage in front of his house. His hand is displayed on another street. The heads of his accomplices are also displayed throughout the city.

The Napoleonic wars (1792-1815)  bring increased prosperity to Cuba.
Multiplying many fold the demand for sugar, tobacco and coffee.

December:  King Fernando VII of Spain writes, "the impossibility of finding Indians to do the job of preparing and cultivating the land requires that this work be given to more robust hands". Despite an 1817 agreement with Britain, ending the slave trade, slaves are illegally imported and in larger numbers. Between 1821 and 1831 more than 300 expeditions brought more than 60,000 slaves to Cuba. Among these slaves (before 1830), are 2 important men for the history of bata drums.
(A Batá drum is a double-headed drum shaped like an hourglass with one cone larger than the other. The percussion instrument is used primarily for the use of religious or semi-religious purposes for the native culture from the land of Yoruba, located in Nigeria, as well as by worshippers of Santería in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and in the United States. The Batá drum popular function is entertainment and to convey messages. Its early function was as a drum of different gods, drum of royalty, drum of ancestors and drum of politicians. Batá drum impacted on all spheres of life.) Juan ‘the lame’ Ayanbi and Filomeno García, Atanda Falubi. Juan was a Babalawo, Osainista and Bata drummer. Filomeno was a Babalawo, Carver/sculptor and Olubata (drum leader). The work of these 2 men would restore the true bata drums to Cuba.

Council Lucumi Santa Barbara is established by Remigio Herrera. Adechina. The address was 175 Dahoiz Street, on the corner of Calle Manzaneda.

This was the year that both Filomeno Garcia and Juan ‘the lame’ Ayanbi built the first true bata drums in Cuba, using Yoruba techniques and local materials.

The British colonies completely eliminate slavery. Between 1790 and 1830, the sugar haciendas in Cuba double from 400 to 800.

The Fulani Jihad causes the fall of the Oyo Kingdom. Many Yoruba are injured and sold as slaves by their Muslim conquerors.

From 1840 to 1850:
Monserrate Apoto González, Oba Tero, a native of Egbado, arrived in Cuba. She was transported in one of the slave ships that brought African slaves illegally. For this reason, We are unable to determine the exact year of her arrival.

Yucatan Indians are brought into Cuba as slave labor, and Asians contract workers from China are imported into Cuba in large numbers. This is to offset the increasingly difficult tasks of obtaining slaves in Africa. Segregation is established in Cuba

Monserrate Apoto González, Oba Tero, aquires her freedom from Slavery.

Timotea Albear Latuan arrives in Cuba with her husband Congo Evaristo Albear. In Havana Andres Facundo Cristo de Dolores Petit begins the initiation of white men into the secrets of Abakua. These rituals and mysteries are derived from the Efik and Efo tribes of the Nigerian delta. All the men initiated are sons of  rich white settlers and all are accused of conspiring against the Spanish crown.

Remigio Herrera, Adechina moves to Havana and establishs the Council of Yemaya in the city city of Regla. New bata drums for this council were commissioned in 1866.
Juan ‘the lame’ Ayanbi, and Filomeno García, Atanda Falubi, were the two men who built these drums. These drums were then named Atanda and Ayanbi in honor of the builders. Soon thereafter these drums are confiscated by the Cuban authorities. It took some time before these were return.

Remigio Herrera, Adechina moved to a house on 23rd Street San Cipriano.

December 4, the first historical evidence of  bata drum being played publicly for Shango on the feast day of Santa Barbara. The drums were played by Remigio Herrera, Adechina at a Lucumi council named Santa Barbara, located on Manzaneda Street, at the corner of Vilarde in the town of Matanzas,. An inspector for the civil governor reports a strange festival where 3 unusual drums are being played. More importantly, The last slave ship to arrive in Cuba does so in this year.

Remigio Herrera, Adechina, moved to 31st Street San Cipriano with his wife Francisca Buzlet, with his stepdaughter Eugenia Lausevio and his own daughters Norma, Josefa, and his son Teodoro.

African councils no longer have permission participate on the day of  the Kings (feast of the Epiphany). because the Orishas would not permit it. Lucumi believers began to share their knowledge with the Arará.

(Arará is a minority group in Cuba (especially in the provinces of la Habana and Matanzas), Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean who descend from Fon, Ewe, Popo, Mahi and other ethnic groups in Dahomey (now Benin). Arará may also refer to the music, dance, and religion of this group of people.)

It was Ma Monserrate Gonzalez who began teaching them the secrets of Babalu Aye, Nanume, Nana Buruku and other Orisa of Arará. The Arará in West Africa had the secrets of divination with cowries shells, however, those who were brought to Cuba in slavery did not remember or had no knowledge of this process.

Joseph Roche (Oshun Kayode), was initiated this year by Tranquilina Balmaseda (Omi Yale), and received multiple Orishas. Prudencia Alfato the aunt of Olympia Alfaro, a famous priestess of Yemaya was the oyubona. This was the first instance that multiple Orishas had been given to an individual as is now the custom.

December 31, 1899, Remigio Herera, Adeshina, was the first Babalawo to determine an Odu for the coming year. 6 of his godchildren were with him when he started this tradition: Marcos García (Ifatola, Ejiogbe Melli), Ologuere (Oyekun Melli), Eulogio Rodriguez (Ttta Gaytan, Ogunda Fun), José Carmen Batiste (Obewene), Salvador Montalvo (Okanran Melli) and Bernardino Rojos (Ireteuntendi). The first letter (Odu) of the year, 1900, was Obara Melli, it came Ire.

December 16, 1901. Nicolas Valentin Angarica was born on December 16, 1901, he was the son of Rosalina Angarica y Ramón Rubio. He was born in municipality of the Province of Matanzas; It is said that his mother was descended from Lucumi royality. Both parents of Rosalina came from the Oyo region of Africa. Rosalina always retained her Lucumi name, Ayobo (the Princess was taught). His father's ancestors are not known, some have suggested that he is not a descendant of the Lucumi. His parents were never married and he retained the surname of his mother.

December 31, 1902: Remigio Herrera suffering from multiple health ailments is unable to continue the practice of Ifa, his godson Eulogio Rodriguez (Tata Gaytan Ogundafun) assumes responsibility for the letter of the year. The following Babalawos they were with him:
Secundino Crucet (Osalofobeyo)
Barnabas Menocal (Ejiogbe Melli)
Quentin Leçon García (Oturaniko)
José Asunción Villalonga (Ogundamasa)
Others less gifted also helped in the determination of the letter (Odu)of the year.

Maria Eugenia Pérez is born this year.

Remigio Herrera (Adeshina) died and. Because of his age and declining health Eulogio Rodriguez (Tata Gaytan Ogundafun) appoints Bernardino Rojo to continue as his successor in the determination of the letter (Odu) of the year Under the supervision of Tata Gaytan’s Rojas assumes all responsibility for this important yearly function. He is assisted by Juan Antonio Ariosa (Ogbe Tua), famous (Obara Rete), Joaquin Salazar (Osalafobeyo), Cornelius Vidal (Ogbe She), Miguel Febles (Odi Ka), and Aurelio Estrada (Ejiogbe Melli).

Josefina Aguirre (Oshun Gere) was initiated by Tranquilina Balmaseda (Omi Sanja). She also receives multiple Orisas on his ordination.

Ma Monserrate Apoto González, Tero Oba dies. Oral history tells us that she was a centenarian, she was well over 100 years of age at her death.

Juan ‘the lame’ Ayanbi, one of the men who brought the bata drums to Cuba dies.
The month and day are unknown,

July 10, 1913. Felicita "Fela" Mendez was born in Loíza village, Puerto Rico, on July 10, 1913.

on July 23, 1923 - Maria Eugenia Pérez was initiated Oshun. Her name in Ocha was ‘Oshun Nike’. She was crowned by Luisa Arango ‘Shango Lode’ Timotea Albear was the Oriate. In this initiation, the Iyawo received the following orisas:  The Warriors, Elegua, Ogun, Ochosi, along with Obatala, Yemaya, Shango and Oshun. This is the earliest historical evidence for the tradition that is still in use to this day.

November 10, 1927, Olympia Alfaro was born in Havana, Cuba, in Buena Vista, Marianao section.

February, Timotea Albear dies.

Yoruba music is featured during an Ethnographic Conference held in Cuba.
Paul Roche played the Iya, Aguedo Morales played the Itotele and Jesús Pérez played the Okonkolo.

May 1, Armando Franci was initiated Yemaya by Josefa Masa (Baba Funke). His Oyubona  was Clara Omisaya (Ocha Bi) his ocha name is (Omi Dina). Oriate Domingo Aye Oba was his ocha twin.
Nicolas Valentin Angarica was ordained by Lorenzo Octavio Sama. in Osha, his name was Oba Tola. The exact date is not recorded.  He studied to become an Oriate with his godfather Obadimelli until his death in 1944.

January 27, Pancho Mora was initiated in Ifa. His godfather was Babalawo Quintin Leçon. Pancho Mora’s Ifa name is Morotí Ifa (Ifa’s knowledge pushed aside the difficulties).
October 1944:  Lorenzo Octavio Sama, Obadimelli dies.

Pancho Mora immigrates to the United States and moves to New York, where he is the first known Babalawo to practice Ifa Divination in the country.

The Muñequitos de Matanzas, a folk group formed in 1952. Touring the United States that same year. They toured internationally in the 1980’s and in 1996 made a CD of Yoruba rhythms.
Mercedes Nobles was born in Cuba and moved to New York in 1952.

20 February: Felicita, "Fela" Méndez (Shango Gumi)was crowned Shango in Cuba, by her godmother Rita Miranda (Eguin Lade) Her Oyubona was Juana Núñez (Eguin Yemi). The Oriate for her ceremony was Maximilian (Orda Ayicoi).
In the United States, there where probably no more than 25 Santeros and Babalawos in all of  New York City Among these was the Babalawo Pancho Mora. Willie Bolitero,

December 4, 1955: Julito Collazo and Francisco Aguabella organize their first Lucumi rituals in New York City, this celebration took place at the 111th Street and Avenue Saint Nicolas of Harlem,

The Afro Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria organized the first public performance of music and dance dedicated to an Orisha at the Palladium Night Club in Harlem, it was a tribute to the Yoruba Orisha Shango Julito Collazo performed songs and dances for the Orisha Shango.
Americans both black and white became aware of our ancient African belief systems.

Conjunto Folklorico Nacional of Cuba was formed with Jesus Perez and Lazaro Ros as founding members.

3 December 1958: Barbarito Javier, OgbeAte, Ifá Bité is born in Camaguey Cuba. On the eve of the feast of Saint Barbara. Aka Shango Kabo Kabiosile

31 December 1958 ~ the Babalawos in Cuba perform the ceremony of the letter of the new year Ofun Ogbe in osorbo was cast,  it was determined that Olokun would govern the new year. As an ebo, the Babalawos should be dancing with masks to appease Olokun, but they were too afraid to do this, and an alternative ebo was offered which Olokun finally accepted.

1 January 1959: The Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro takes power.

References used to complile this list: