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Nasako en libreta Abakuá antigua

© Ivor Miller 2011 From a 19th century MS

Násàkó

In the mythic history of the Cuban Abakuá, a diviner named Nasako prophesized the coming of the Ékpè ‘leopard’ society in Africa, and then was instrumental in organizing the first lodge in the African coastal community of Usagaré (commonly known as Isangele). Till today, every Cuban lodge has a Nasako title-holder who in ceremony evokes the original myth and actions of Nasako. In Cameroon, there exist the descendants of the original Násàkó, who live in a remote mountainous area, much like Maroons in Cuba. They maintain traditions of divination and of Ékpè, whose brother lodges gave us the Cuban Abakuá potencias. At their March 2012 Festival, they did a divination concerning their plan to communicate with the Cuban Abakwa and received approval.

En la historia mítica de la sociedad Abakuá de Cuba, un adivinador llamado Nasako profesó la llegada de la sociedad del leopardo también conocido como Ékpè, y después organizó la primera logia en la comunidad costera de Usagaré (conocido como Usak-Edet o Usaghade en África occidental). Hasta el día de hoy, cada logia Abakuá en Cuba tiene la plaza de Nasako, quien durante la ceremonia invoca el mito original de Násàkó en Usagaré a través de acciones rituales y cantos. En el Camroon existen los descendientes del Násàkó original, que viven en el monte, en las montañas, como los cimarones en Cuba. Mantienen las tradiciones de divinacion y de  Ékpè, cuyos logias nos dieron las potencias Abakuá en Cuba. En su Festival de marzo, 2012, hicieron una adivinación al asunto de su plan para comunicarse con los abakwa en Cuba y recibieron una aprobación.


Nasako divining horn

Divining horn in 
Cameroon today

Nasako en una libreta Abakuá antigua

<== 19th century Cuban drawing of a Nasako title-holder in full ceremonial dress. The medicine horn tied to the waist was used for divination and plays a similar role to the horns used by the Nasako diviners today in Cameroon. He stands upon a drawn ‘signature’ that authorizes his actions. The basket of offerings held by the Cuban Nasako also plays a role in the Násàkó divination process in Cameroon. Since the 1860s, Abakuá members have documented their traditions in manuscripts used to teach members in apprenticeship fashion.

 

“Calabar Mgbè” Revista Internacional  01-09-2013 (No. 14)
Primera Comunicación entre los Nasakos de Camerún y de Cuba

“Calabar Mgbè” Revista Internacional 09-01-2013 (No. 14 in English)
First Communication between the Nasakos of Cameroon and Cuba

Nasako villages threatened by palm oil plantations: following a world-wide resurgence of plantation economies.

Nasako Besingi and the fight against Heracles Farms, 8/15/13

Update on the March 2012 Nasako Festival, 1/20/12

Dr. Miller,

The Nasako family "BONASAKO" held their annual preparatory meeting at Mondongo a village situated in Fako division. Here some Banasako members reside and are principally cocoa farmers. We do hold this meetings each year and we rotate in villages out of Ndian division so as to meet our brothers and sisters who had to leave their ancestral land (Ekama) in search of areas with communication infrastructure for easy sale of their farm produce. This is one of the main reasons most of us are out here. This meeting was principally to rally the family to travel to Ekama, their ancestral home this February in anticipation of the March 1st NASAKO festival.

I had to brief them on the developments I have been getting from you and the enthusiasm with which the discovery of the Nasako family deep inside the Rumpi Hills had given to their brothers and sisters out there in Cuba and the U.S.

Anxiety is rife and expectations are high come March 1st. It was hard to believe that this family once thought to be at the brink of non existence is now a central focus for all the clans that make up Ngolo. Exchange from members who came to that meeting showed that most of them are still like the Thomas of biblical times who wanted to see before believing.

In the final analysis all are geared towards a massive turnout for the history making event come March 1st.

It should be recalled that this meeting also has a developmental orientation. Each family member is to contribute 2000 frs into the development fund each year for minor projects like school fees loans to parents.

We are hoping that the coming home of our brothers from abroad shall bring a new spirit of belonging which is not the case now. From the look of things there is some hope for great things to come in terms of family unity and development. 

The highlight of this meeting was the throwing of the kola nut to ask the Ancestors (NASAKO and others who followed ) if they were in agreement with the holding of the meeting. It was all smiles when the Diviner interpreted that the kola nut has revealed that they were all in perfect agreement. The only sad note was the fact that the president of Banasako family meeting passed away on October 14th, 2011. The meeting took 2 days and ended on December 12th, 2011.

We wish you well and are hoping to receive a strong delegation from Cuba/U.S.

Kebulu Felix Lenya for the Nasako family, Cameroon

Program for Nasako Festival 2012, 9/2011

Here is the tentative programme for the NASAKO Festival 2012, drawn up by Felix and Nasako in Limbe 13/09/2011. Detailed programme for the commemorative
activities proper on March 1, 2011, will be made public as soon as we have an idea of those who will be attending the festival from abroad as well as at home.

It is worth noting that the NASAKO Festival will include speeches and papers presentation on any theme of interest to the NASAKO Festival event and plenty of cultural manifestations. Believe me, it is a come and see story and not wait and hear story on March 1,2011. I look forward to hear from you ASAP.

-- Nasako Besingi

Desde Camerún a Cuba: una invitación a la reunión de 2012 de la gran familia Nasako, 6/2011top

En la historia mítica de la sociedad Abakuá de Cuba, un adivinador llamado Nasako profesó la llegada de la sociedad del leopardo también conocido como Ékpè , y después organizó la primera logia en la comunidad costera de Usagaré (conocido como Usak-Edet o Usaghade en África occidental). Hasta el día de hoy, cada logia Abakuá en Cuba tiene la plaza de Nasako, quien durante la ceremonia invoca el mito original de Nasako en Usagaré a través de acciones rituales y cantos. 

Durante mi investigación en Camerún, conocí a miembros de la familia de Nasako (la familia se llama BoNasako, o ‘muchos Nasakos’) que viven en el suroeste de Camerún. Ahí me confirmaron la leyenda cubana de aquel ancestro llamado Nasako quien era profeta y luego fue deificado, y que sigue siendo adorado entre miembros de la familia (a pesar de la colonización y la cristianización de África). Un líder de la familia, Sr. Nasako Besingi escribió:

“Mi nombre ‘Nasako’ es el mismo que se mantiene en la sociedad cubana (un Dios ancestral) también reconocido por el Clan de los Ngolo en la División de Ndian en el Suroeste de Camerún y por extensión la tribu de los Oroko (que incluye los Balondo/Barondo) y muy exaltado por la sociedad de Ékpè aquí. Los miembros del Clan de los Ngolo invocaban a el espíritu de Nasako cuando había un problema serio en el territorio para que triunfara la paz. También hay una rama tradicional de la familia de Nasako, llamado la familia de BoNasako.”

En febrero de 2011 viajé a la cuidad de Mundemba, División de Ndian, Camerún, a un encuentro con miembros de la familia. (Ndian es un río que pasa cerca de Usagaré, cuyo nombre fue transformado a Ordán en Cuba para conformarse con el Jordán de la Biblia. Los Abakuá dicen: “India Abakuá” o ‘nacimiento del Abakuá’ porque Ndian era el lugar de nacimiento según el mito). Juntos viajamos por carretera a la comunidad de Ekama-Ngolo en la zona Toko de las montañas “Rumpi Hills”, la base ancestral de la familia. Mas de 50 miembros de la familia se reunieron para confirmar la historia de su familia a través de la memoria de Nasako en Cuba. Videos de este festival que documentaron la Voz del Ékpè (leopardo) resonando desde la casa de Ékpè, han sido visto por varios líderes del Abakuá quienes respondieron con entusiasmo. 

El evento fue tan exitoso que la familia de BoNasako está organizando un segundo festival para el primer de Marzo de 2012, con esperanza de que visitantes internacionales, especialmente líderes del Abakuá cubano, se reúnan para celebrar y reconstruir la historia de Nasako. Los organizadores han nombrando el evento “El Obase Wa Nasako (Dios de Nasako) y Butamu programa de herencia cultural.” Obase es un variante de ‘Abasi’ (Dios), un termino utilizado en la zona del Río Cruz, mientras que Butamu, el termino local para Ékpè, se entiende por los Abakuá que nombran sus casa-templos ‘butame’ (el lugar donde suena la Voz).

La familia Nasako era originalmente de Usagaré (en la zona costera del suroeste de Camerún, llamada el Río del Rey), pero como consecuencia de la trata esclavista, hace siglos tomaron refugio en la zona montañosa donde viven ahora como agricultores, sin electricidad o calles modernas, donde llueva casi todo el año. 

La familia Nasako con Ivor Miller
La familia Nasako con el Dr. Ivor Miller

El Sr. Nasako Besingi, el fundador/coordinador del “Obase Wa Nasako (Dios de Nasako) y Butamu programa de herencia cultural,” nos informa de algunos asuntos claves en la historia de Nasako y los obstáculos enfrentando la reunión de los Nasakos de África y de Cuba. El Sr. Besingi escribió:

“La adoración al Profeta Nasako fue afectada por la introducción del Cristianismo en este zona durante el siglo 19. Varias esculturas tradicionales fueron escondida como consecuencia del doctrino cristiano, que era utilizado para destruir muchas esculturas y estatuas vitales. Muchos están escondido y los custodios están preparado para prestárnoslos para nuestro programa cuando el museo este construido.” 

Existen muchas historias muy parecidas por todo el África del Oeste, donde el cristianismo ha sido utilizado para atacar los sistemas tradicionales de las comunidades, mientras que el robo de esculturas tradicionales para venta en Europa y Norte América ha sido intenso. La reunión de la familia de Nasako con los Abakuá de Cuba ha resultado en una re-evaluación de la historia del África del Oeste y la creación de un museo viviente con el objetivo de ‘descolonizar’ los pueblos del África del Oeste que viven bajo la presión para ‘modernizarse’ y ‘civilizarse’ en términos Europeos.

Otro líder de la familia de Nasako, el Sr. Kebulu Félix Lenya, escribió sobre los planes para la reunión en 2012: 

“Estamos esperando una reunión de nuestra familia después de 200 años de separación, es decir, esperamos una delegación fuerte desde las Américas, cuyo evento sería histórico. Nasako Besingi está ya movilizando los BoNasakos del pueblo, y créeme, el festival de 2011 era muy humilde en comparación a lo que vamos a presentar como la cultura de nuestro pueblo en 2012. 

En Septiembre del 2011 el programa sería casi listo para que aquellos interesados puedan hacer sus planes para participar en este evento donde pudiera ver la gran familia de Nasako — guiados por el “Obase Wa Nasako” — reunido otra vez. Estamos rezando diariamente para que este sueño se realizado.”

Dr. Ivor Miller
Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria (2009-2011)
Department of History, University of Calabar

Para mas información sobre el festival de la familia de Nasako, favor de comunicarse en inglés con los dos miembros de la familia organizando el evento: 

Mr. Nasako Besingi
Fundador/coordinador del “Obase Wa Nasako (Dios de Nasako) y Butamu programa de herencia cultural.
Teléfono mobile: +237 7513 6000
Email: nazbez_AROBA_yahoo.com   [cambiar _AROBA_ por @]

Nasako Besingi es también Director de: 
Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE)
P.O. Box 40, Mundemba, Ndian Division, Cameroon

Y también:

Mr. Kebulu Felix Lenya
Email: kebsf_AROBA_yahoo.com   [cambiar _AROBA_ por @]
Title: co-ordinador de la Company Ministry of Tourism Cameroon Work Address: Global
Village Tourism Organisation.
Tourism for Poverty Alleviation.
Limbe, Cameroon.
Work Phone: +237-99-03-41-11
Mobile Phone: +237-74-86-31-53

Written by Ivor Miller, translated by Ivor Miller then revised by Onel Mulet. August 2011.
All photographs © Ivor Miller 2011

From Cameroon to Cuba: An invitation to the 2012 reunion of the 'Great Nasako Family', 6/2011top

In the mythic history of the Cuban Abakuá, a diviner named Nasako prophesized the coming of the Ekpe ‘leopard’ society, and then was instrumental in organizing the first lodge in the coastal community of Usagaré. Till today, every Cuban lodge has a Nasako title-holder who in ceremony evokes the original myth and actions of Nasako in the community of Usagaré (known as Usak-Edet or Usaghade by its West African members). 

Through research in Cameroon, I met members of the Nasako family (called BoNasako) who live in southwestern Cameroon. They confirmed the Cuban legend of an ancestor named Nasako who was a prophet and later became deified, and still worshipped among family members. A family leader, Mr. Nasako Besingi wrote: 

“My name "NASAKO" mirrored that held by the Cuban society (an ancestral GOD) as known by the Ngolo clan in Ndian Division in South west Cameroon and by extension the Oroko tribe and very much exalted by the Ekpe society here. Moreover, the people of the Ngolo clan invoked the spirit of NASAKO whenever there was a serious problem in land and for peace to reign in the Ngololand. There is also a traditional family lineage of NASAKO ancestry, called the BONASAKO family (family of NASAKO).” 

In February 2011 I traveled to Mundemba, Ndian Division, Cameroon to meet members of the family. (Ndian is a river that runs near Usagaré, whose name was transformed to Ordán in Cuba to conform with the Biblical River Jordan. The Abakuá say: “India Abakuá" or ‘the birth of the Abakuá’ because Ndian was the birthplace according to the myth). Together we traveled into the Ekama-Ngolo community in the Toko area of the Rumpi Hills, where the family headquarters are. Some 50 family members gathered there to confirm their family history in light of the memory of Nasako in Cuba. Videotapes of this festival, highlighting the Voice of the Leopard emitting from the Ekpe house, have been viewed by Cuban Abakuá leaders who responded with great enthusiasm. 

Ekama-Ngolo community in the Rumpi Hills

Ekama-Ngolo community in the Rumpi Hills

The event was so successful that the BoNasako family is planning a second festival beginning on March 1, 2012, with the hope that international visitors, especially Cuban Abakuá leaders, will join them to reconstruct and celebrate the history of Nasako. The organizers are naming the event “The Obase Wa Nasako (The God of Nasako) and Butamu cultural heritage programme.” Obase is a variant of the Cross River term Abasí ‘God’, while Butamu, the local term for Ekpe, is understood by Abakuá, who call their Abakuá houses ‘butame’ (the place from where the Voice sounds). 

Although the Nasako family was originally from Usagaré, in the Río del Rey coastal region of southwestern Cameroon, because of the slave trade, they took refuge centuries ago in the mountainous region where they now live as farmers, without electricity or paved roads in a region with year-round rainfall. 

Through communication with Mr. Nasako Besingi, the Founder/Coordinator of the Obase Wa Nasako and Butamu Cultural Heritage Programme, we have learned some of the key issues in the history of Nasako and the challenges facing the reunion of Nasakos from Africa and Cuba. 

Mr. Nasako Besingi wrote: “The worshiping of Prophet Nasako was affected by the introduction of Christianity in the area in the last century. Many carvings were hidden because of the Christianity doctrine, which was used to destroy some of these carvings and vital statues. Many of these carvings are hidden and they are now prepared to release them to our programme as soon as the museum is erected.” 

Such stories are common throughout West Africa, where Christianity has been used to attack traditional community systems, while the theft of ritual sculpture for sale overseas has been widespread. The reunion of the Nasako family with the Cuban Abakuá is leading to a re-evaluation of West African history and the proposed creation of a living museum that seeks to ‘de-colonize’ West African people facing pressure to ‘modernize’ and ‘civilize’ in European terms. 

Another family leader, Mr. Kebulu Felix Lenya, wrote about the plans for the 2012 reunion: 

“We are very expectant to see this family finally meet together again after about 200 years of separation. We are all expecting a strong delegation from overseas for this festival, which shall be a history-making event. Nasako Besingi is already mobilizing those back home and believe me what you saw was just an eye-opener compared to what shall be displayed as the culture of our people come March 2012.

By September the program shall be almost ready for everyone to see and start making plans to be part of this history-making event that could eventually see the Great Nasako family under the guidance of 'OBASE WA NASAKO" re-unite again. We are praying everyday for this dream to come true.”

Dr. Ivor Miller
Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria (2009-2011)
Department of History, University of Calabar

For more information about the Nasako family festival, please contact two family
members who are organizing the event:

Mr. Nasako Besingi
Founder/Coordinator
Obase Wa Nasako and Butamu Cultural Heritage Programme
Mobile Phone: 237 7513 6000
nazbez_AT_yahoo.com

Nasako Besingi is also Managing Director,
Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE)
P.O. Box 40, Mundemba, Ndian Division, Cameroon

AND

Mr. Kebulu Felix Lenya
Email: kebsf_AT_yahoo.com
Title: co-ordinator Company Ministry of Tourism Cameroon Work Address: Global
Village Tourism Organistaion.
Tourism for Poverty Alleviation.
Limbe, Cameroon.
Work Phone 237-99-03-41-11
Mobile Phone 237-74-86-31-53

Todas las fotos © Ivor Miller 2011

 

Links/Enlaces top

Nasako and the Palm Oil Plantations

Abakuá page
on AfroCubaWeb

“Calabar Mgbe” Revista Internacional
afrocubaweb.com/abakwa/revistacalabarmgbe.htm

“Calabar Mgbe”
Revista Internacional
30-05-2011 (No. 4)
Inicio del festival de la familia de los NASAKO (o BONASAKO) en Camerún, basado en su nuevo conocimiento de la plaza de Nasako en el Abakuá de Cuba.

“Calabar Mgbe”
Revista Internacional
30-05-2011 (No. 5)
Festival de la familia de los NASAKO (o BONASAKO) en Camerún, celebrando el conocimiento de la plaza de Nasako en el Abakuá de Cuba.

“Calabar Mgbe”
Revista Internacional
04-06-2011 (No. 6)
Encuentro con Reinaldo Brito, eminencia del Abakuá en Cuba.


The World Music Central site reviews the Enyenison Enkama Project.
  12/20/2010 Repeating Islands: "The Enyenison Enkama Projekt celebrates the African roots in Cuban music, specifically a style called Abakuá. This new project is a continuation of an earlier project by Cuban rumba group Yoruba Andabo, which released an album titled Enyenison Enkama in 1997. Enyenison Enkama Project is based in New York City, led by the core Cuban musicians Roman Díaz, Pedro Martínez and Angel Guerrero... “Mariba Konkai” means ‘the depths of the sea’. This composition is an homage to Nasako, the diviner.

Ekpe members from the Manyu region in Cameroon discover their brothers and sisters [in Cuba] who have been separated from them for over 200 years, Ekpe Society, 10/1409

 

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