Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Callejón de Hamel in Havana

Flickering through flickr, I came across this image of the Hamel district in Havana, Cuba. It takes me back to when Bibi and I met up in Cuba in 1999 after 3 months absence (she coming from Jamaica where she was researching on Dancehall), me coming from the grey cold of London.

We met at the airport, and were driven in a 1950's chevvy with proudly upholstered bench seats. We wandered the city the day after and came across Hamel. There was a crowd gathered just near where this picture was taken, rhythms floating furiously on the air. Rumba was in full effect. I was mesmerised by the playful, erotic dancing. Moments later, the female dancer lured me into the circle. Perhaps two hundred cubanos roared me on. It was too late to back out. I gave her a rumbero imaginary kick and the crowd roared with approval. At that moment, the espirito de rumba entered my being..

Later, we get to know the dancer with the magical hips, Adeisy, and her dancing partner Jonny Nike. We also met the Hamel Babalawo, Omo Ogun (a huge cuban cigar permanently lodged in his mouth). After Bibi left, I found myself drinking moonshine rum with the local rumberos in an abandonned half-built house off of Crespo. The rumberos regard themselves as more Nigerian than Nigerians. Their music is full of incantations in Yoruba - even though they do not understand the language.

All this reminds me of the great project ahead: of mapping Yoruba culture as it permeated (and still permeates) the New World. Only last week I met someone from Trinidad who informs me that Yoruba (as Condomble) is becoming the unofficial religion of all Brazil (not just Bahians). Ah - there is so much work ahead!


Anonymous,  11:21 am  

Read your article on UI. Excellent. Unfortunately it seems to be a growing problem and the born again 'Christians' (not) are just not prepared to listen to reason. It is like the cults in the US but on a massive scale and driven by greed.

The article about agbada? Abeg you went too far! Agbade looks like female genitalia? You dey craze! Please tell me you are taking the piss?!...

Devil's Advocate

Anonymous,  2:50 pm  

where is the agbada article, the UI one? I want to read the agbada. I have often thought about agbada in this very same manner - the multi-fold of the vulva. Such a reading of the garment lends itself to the Irigarian notion of the multiplicity of female sexual pleasure. Agbada offer a way of rethinking this quintessentially regalia of masculinity as the femininity wrapped in masculinity and masculinity in feminity. Jeremy pls post the url to this essay.

Anonymous,  3:02 pm  

Check out Jeremy's website and go to 'texts'.
But you guys are weird...

Devil's Advocate

Anonymous,  4:20 pm  

nothing weird about reading the folds in agbada in terms of women's body part... society throws all kinds of things to be read in all kinds of way. anyway, thanks for mentioning it.

Yes jeremy, the Yoruba thing is gettin g stronger in the diaspora by the day - there is a whole movement going on NYC and in florida. I guess, it is the influx of the Cubans.


Anonymous,  5:58 pm  

Believe me TJ it is weird. Maybe a photo of agbada comparing it with female genitalia... Like the Burger King ice cream cone and the symbol for...

Ah then all the politically correct tailors will have to redesign the agbada when all the feminists start ranting that men are misusing the image of the female genitalia.

Yep you guys are weird...

Devil's Advocate

Anonymous,  7:12 pm  

TJ I think you should read Wheen's Mumbo Jumbo. It has some stuff to say about the types of theories Irigary is putting around. Your eye go clear! An excellent read and some good stuff on religions too.

Devil's Advocate

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