Cuban Santeria

PhotographerPhil Clarke-Hill
Entry Description

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 18th century sugar plantations, it is a syncretic religion adopting elements of Spanish imposed Catholicism whilst maintaining the central beliefs of Nigeria’s Yoruba tribe. As a practice rooted within a world of oppression Santeria is shrouded in secrecy, surviving first the command of imperial governance and later Castro’s skepticism of religion, it owes its centuries to existence to oral tradition through countless generations. Today, Santeria has emerged from the shadows of a Cuban society now at liberty to practise religion, and is witnessing not only an increase in acceptance, but popularity also.