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Slave's Route: Museum of Orichas

The presence of African slaves brought to Cuba by the Spanish conquistadors, as part of nearly 400-year phenomenon, left a rich legacy in a wide range of cultural expressions.

The scourge of slavery in Cuba, which resulted from colonization as a way to get cheap and easily-replaceable labor force, also left a deep imprint in Cuban society.

Hundreds of places throughout the Caribbean Island are reminders of thousands of men, women and children who were abducted from their homes, where they never returned.

Food, customs, dances, music, the language and religion are part of that African legacy, which has been transmitted from generation to generation.

Precisely, religion contributes a unique cultural wealth, due to its many spiritual elements, including worshipping several gods and goddess called orichas.

The common element is the existence of a large pantheon of deities, who accompany believers in all spheres of life, and influence them directly or indirectly.

Saint Lazarus.
Oggún dance.
Yemayá dance.

In that context stands out the Museum of Orichas, in the Cuban capital, which exhibits 30 life-size statues that represent those symbols of the Yoruba religion.

Faithful copies of those existing in sanctuaries in Nigeria, the statues were made by sculptor Lázaro Valdés and are on display in the Yoruba Cultural Association of Cuba.

Experts and association members, as well as visitors to the museum, can enjoy the splendor of the Yoruba deities.

A library and classrooms are also available at the museum, where workshops and conferences are held.

With those actions, Cuba has contributed to the development of the Slave's Route in the country, which is aimed at spreading the reality of slavery and the social influence of African cultures.

The main goal is to show that phenomenon to the world, study its causes, modalities, development and consequences, value its impact, and contribute to safeguarding some of its elements that are testimony of Africa's heritage on our lands.

That way, experts said, Cuba is implementing a project sponsored by international organizations, which have already fostered the creation of the Maya Route in Central America and the Silk Road in Asia.

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