Monday, August 27, 2012

Cuban and Cameroon Ékpè in DC

 This past weekend has been an important one for Abakuá and Ékpè members alike.  Here are images and music from all the encounters between Cuban Abakuá Roman Diaz and Angel Guerrero accompanied by a song they learned from Sisiku Assám Assám .  In just a little while Dr. Ivor Miller will be presenting his talk as Senior Fellow at the Smithsonian museum. We are very grateful to Dr. Johnnetta Cole and all the staff at the National Museum of African Art. Soon I will post more video and pictures of the events following Chief Dr. Ivor Millers talk.

Abasi Menguame,

Onel Mulet
for The Voice of The Leopard.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Senior Smithsonian Fellow Chief (Dr.) Ivor Miller Presents.....

                           November 25th Event with Cameroon Èkpé and Cuban Abakuá

Monday 27 August at 2:00pm at the Smithsonian Institution's NMAfA’s Lecture Hall

950 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20560
For Directions Click Here<>

Chief (Dr.) Ivor Miller will present new research on Cross River civilizations and their manifestations in the Diaspora. Also featured are the music and masquerades of both Cameroon Ékpè and Cuban Abakuá. Musicians 'Román' Díaz, Ángel Guerrero  with NY based musician, composer Onel Mulet will participate.
For centuries, the Ékpè ‘leopard’ society of the Cross River region in southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon was the supreme institution of governance that also embodied esoteric teachings about the life-cycle. African migrants in colonial Cuba recreated Ékpè in the early 1800s to protect members in a slave society and to gain their freedom. They called it Abakuá, after the Àbàkpà community of Calabar, Nigeria. During this process, Abakuá scribes documented large portions of their cultural history in 19th century manuscripts. Hidden from outsiders until recently, this little-known ‘people’s history’ is being shared with West African cultural leaders who are using it to understand their own pre-colonial traditional institutions and arts.

With reference to photographs in the NMAfA collections, Chief (Dr.) Ivor Miller will present key themes of this story with the support of traditional intellectuals as well as musicians and dancers from Cameroon and Cuba. The foci will be on trans-Atlantic cultural identities, symbols of ‘universal motherhood’, and the functions of ‘life-giving’ drums. The role of the Museum as a link between continental Africans and African-descendants in the USA to explore their legacies in the arts will be addressed. Traditional chiefs from Cameroon who live in the Washington D.C. region will participate.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ntongho Eyang Ékpè

In November, 2011 several Ékpè leaders from Cameroon gave a certificate of recognition to their Cuban Abakua counterparts, that stated: “This is to certify that the title of Ntongho Eyang Ékpè has been awarded to the Cuban Ékpè, for their dedication towards the preservation, research and promotion of the Ékpè culture. On this day of October 17th, 2009. Signed Sisiku Emmanuel Ojong Orok.”

Ntongho Eyang Ékpè means ‘teacher of Ékpè’ in the Ejagham language of Nigeria and Cameroon.

The certificate had been created in response to the reunion of Cameroon Ékpè and Cuban Abakua at the CD release party for Eyenison Enkama at Joe’s Pub in NYC, but it wasn’t until 2011 that the two parties met again. The award was presented in the home and Ékpè lodge of Ékpè USA leader Sisiku Emmanuel Ojong Orok in Baltimore. It was received on behalf of all the Cuban Abakuá by Roman Diaz, who holds the title of Moni Bonko of Havana lodge Apapa Umon Ekori Tonko. For 200 years Cuban Abakua have preserved and maintained the traditions of their ancestors in Cuban Ékpè (Abakua) lodges spread throughout Havana and Matanzas. The very first Cuban lodge, called Efik Ebuton, was founded in the Havana neighborhood of Regla in the nineteenth century and was named after Obutong, an Ékpè lodge in Southeast Nigeria.

Roman Diaz is photographed here with Dr. Ivor Miller, Sisiku Philip Tazi (our gracious and most generous host), Sisiku Emmanuel Ojong Orock. This Ékpè ceremony commenced a week of activities with Ékpè U.S.A and Dr. Miller's talk "A Cultural History of Cross River Civilization" at the National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C., where he is currently a Smithsonian Senior Fellow. Roman Diaz was a featured artist along with Cameroon Ékpè masquerades, who were all graciously welcomed with introductory remarks by the Museum’s Director, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chief Dr Ivor Miller and Chief (Mrs.) Anni Offiong on CRBC Television Calabar Nigeria 2012

 Chief Dr Ivor Miller and Chief (Mrs.) Anni Offiong on  CRBC Television Calabar Nigeria 2012

Part One

Part Two

Chief Dr. Ivor Miller talks about  the first ever Èkpé festival held in Cuba in May of 2011. In this interview he shares with us the significance of archives outside of Africa that preserve the rich, valuable history of Èkpé culture and displays rare late nineteenth and early twentieth century photographs of Old Calabar courtesy of the Eliot Elisofon photographic archives, National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C..  Chief Dr. Millers  exhaustive field work in Nigeria and Cameroon and his commitment to the culture allow him to shed  light on many important details about these rare photographs never before documented.

 I would also like to remind everyone that has not already purchased a copy of Chief Dr. Millers book " The Voice of The Leopard: African Secret Societies in Cuba(University of Mississippi Press)2009, you can now find it on paperback. The book describes Cross River and Èkpé history with great attention to  detail in the words of Chief Dr. Miller, elder Cuban Abakuá members and elder Èkpé men from the Cross River region.

Abasi Menguame,

Onel Mulet

for Ndibo Yeve Ngo