Voice of the leopard: African secret societies and Cuba

2010 ChoiceReviews  
In 1984, Robert Farris Thompson's pioneering book Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy examined the influence of Yoruba, Kongo, and Cross River cultures of Africa on the cultural traditions of black people throughout the diaspora. The insights that he provided inspired generations of scholars to study in greater depth the evidence of deep-seated belief systems and elements of culture that were brought from Africa to the New World through the infamous slave trade.
more » ... of Thompson's pupils, Ivor Miller, has now produced a noteworthy study, concentrating specifically on one particular secret society, Ekpe, of the Cross River region of southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon; its transfiguration on Cuban soil into the Abakua society; and the ensuing effect of Abakua in shaping all aspects of the social, political, and metaphysical traditions of Cuban urban life. The book's title, Voice of the Leopard, refers to the belief in both locations that the mystic voice of the leopard is the most important symbol of political authority in autonomous communities. The subtitle, African Secret Societies and Cuba, is something of a misnomer, since the text deals with only one West African secret society. The book itself charts Miller's original research in Cuba and its verification by more recent research in the Cross River.
doi:10.5860/choice.47-3346 fatcat:szhcy6lyefgf7dwp3nbzziqnlu