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Cuban Santeria

Santeria, ‘the worship of saints’, is gaining ground as a popular religious practice in Cuba. Developed in the African slave societies of the island’s sugar plantations, it is a syncretic religion adopting elements of Spanish imposed Catholicism whilst maintaining the central beliefs of Africa’s kidnapped natives, primarily Nigeria’s Yoruba tribe.

As a practice rooted within a world of oppression it is shrouded in secrecy, surviving first the ruthless command of slave masters and imperial governance and later the religious intolerance of Castro’s government, it owes its continued existence over the centuries to the prevalence of the oral tradition, with believers preserving and nurturing its secrets through generations.

Today, Santeria has emerged from the shadows of a Cuban society now at liberty to practice religion, and is witnessing an increase in both acceptance and popularity.

Photographer / Filmmaker  -  London / Brazil
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All images 2007-2018 Phil Clarke Hill