Friday, April 17, 2009

The Voice of The Leopard.

Dr. Ivor Miller will be participating in a panel discussion on the sacred voices of the Abakua Lucumi and Vodou traditions as well as the origins of Congo traditions. Featured panelists include Dr. Robert Farris Thompson beginning at 1PM

Saturday, April 25, 2009
Hostos Community College/CUNY
450 Grand Concourse at 149 St. The Bronx

Voice of the Leopard
African Secret Societies and Cuba

By Ivor L. Miller
Foreword by Engr. (Chief) Bassey E. Bassey

432 pages (approx.), 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 28 color and 32 b&w illustrations, 4 maps, foreword, 3 appendices, glossary, bibliography, index

How African secret societies changed the music, art, and history of Cuba

In Voice of the Leopard: African Secret Societies and Cuba, Ivor L. Miller shows how African migrants and their political fraternities played a formative role in the history of Cuba. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, no large kingdoms controlled Nigeria and Cameroon's multilingual Cross River basin. Instead, each settlement had its own lodge of the initiation society called Ékpè, or "leopard," which was the highest indigenous authority. Ékpè lodges ruled local communities while also managing regional and long-distance trade. Cross River Africans, enslaved and forcibly brought to colonial Cuba, reorganized their Ékpè clubs covertly in Havana and Matanzas into a mutual-aid society called Abakuá, which became foundational to Cuba's urban life and music.

Miller's extensive fieldwork in Cuba and West Africa documents ritual languages and practices that survived the Middle Passage and evolved into a unifying charter for transplanted slaves and their successors. To gain deeper understanding of the material, Miller underwent Ékpè initiation rites in Nigeria after ten years' collaboration with Abakuá initiates in Cuba and the United States. He argues that Cuban music, art, and even politics rely on complexities of these African-inspired codes of conduct and leadership. Voice of the Leopard is an unprecedented tracing of an African title-society to its Caribbean incarnation, which has deeply influenced Cuba's creative energy and popular consciousness.

This book is sponsored by a grant from the InterAmericas(r) / Society of Arts and Letters of the Americas, a program of the Reed Foundation.

Ivor L. Miller, a cultural historian specializing in the African Diaspora in the Caribbean and the Americas, is currently a Research Fellow at the African Studies Center, Boston University. His previous book, Aerosol Kingdom: Subway Painters of New York City, was also published by University Press of Mississippi. Engineer (Chief) Bassey E. Bassey of Nigeria is highly regarded in the Calabar community for his knowledge of the history and practice of the Ékpè system and is the author of Ékpè Efik.

Painting--"La fuerza del mambí," by Jorge Delgado, photograph by Daniel Swadener

432 pages (approx.), 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 28 color and 32 b&w illustrations, 4 maps, foreword, 3 appendices, glossary, bibliography, index

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