Cuban native, producer and groove giant BARRIO told us in a wonderful conversation that his country, Cuba, is sometimes called “the echo of Africa”. Inspired by two EPs that can be exclusively heard here on vsnotebook, we’re exploring a part of the cultural relationship between Cuba and Nigeria.

Lucumi (A dialect of Yoruba) – The Sacred Language of Santería:

So that we’re all on the same page, Lucumi or Lukumi is a dialect of Yoruba; a language belonging to the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria and southern Benin in West Africa. Lucumi is also the holy/sacred language of the Santería religion; an Afro-Cuban religion that developed amongst West African slaves during the Spanish Empire. The term “Afro-Cuban” refers to Cubans with West African ancestry and so from that I’m sure you can deduce that Yoruba was brought to Cuba by these West Africans. The Santería church is the marriage of the Catholic church and Yoruba mythology.

In the Yoruba pantheon you have the supreme God and the demi-Gods whom are her children.

(We’re headed somewhere, don’t lose me juuust yet).

The supreme God (much like the Trinity of the Christian/Catholic church) exists in three forms: Olodumare who is the Creator, Oloron who is the ruler of the heavens and lastly Olofi who exists as the channel between Heaven (Orún) and Earth (Ayé). The demi-Gods are known as the Orishas and are Olodumare’s eldest children. Whilst Olodumare is out here creating new worlds, the Orishas are holding it down on planet Earth. The Santería believe that every human has a personal connection with a particular diety or Orisha and music is used as a form of prayer/dedication to the Orishas.

In two of his EPs “Osha – Lucumi Obaoriate and “Ifa – Akere FinusogbonBarrio uses Nigerian Highlife samples (Nigeria being the motherland of the Yoruba religion) and fuses them with the religious chants of the Santeria, thus paying homage to the Gods that he learned from in his 30 years of life. Ibeyi who’s music you will have heard in the playlist above, are twin sisters named after the orisha of the divine twins (Ibeji, Ibelli, Ibeyi, Meji, Melli or Jimaguas). Although there are two individuals when twins are born, the Ibeji is considered one Orisha. Twins are considered sacred by birth among the Yoruba people.

Consider this the starter and click here to continue onto the main course.  The insightful conversation that we had with experimentalist, Barrio.