Cuba’s African Cabildos

In a photo feature for Havana Times, Elio Delgado looks at the Cuban tradition of January carnival festivities. For the full set of images, follow the link below.

In 1512 Spain authorized the bringing into Cuba of black African slaves, who came with their traditions and their religions, which were never abandoned though the masters forced them to practice the Catholic religion.

Slaves of the same ethnic groups organized into brotherhoods or fraternal orders that were called cabildos (councils), similar to the town councils organized in Seville, Spain, in the 14th century.

The first cabildo was created in Cuba in 1568 and was named the Cabildo Shango.

As part of the festivities of carnival in Havana, the Spanish colonial authorities authorized the cabildos to celebrate once a year (on January 6, Kings’ Day) when they were allowed to parade through the streets playing their African instruments and performing their traditional dances.

Currently, as a way keeping alive the traditions of that culture — which is a part of the Cuban culture — on January 6 Afro-Cuban cultural groups revive the traditional fiestas of the cabildos, adding color and music to the streets in the historic center of Havana.

For additional photos go to

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s