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Ojun Degara
La familia Baró - The Baró Family: Arará in Jovellanos, Matanzas
www.ojundegara.com

From Dahomey to Cuba ~ The Legacy of Esteban Baró Tossú

Authored by: The Baró Family
​English Translation: Kiley Acosta, PhD
www.ojundegara.com

"Among the multiple ethnic groups that increased the slave population of colonial Cuba, there were many men and women who came from the region of Dahomey, Africa, known today as the Republic of Benin. Africans in Cuba of Dahomean origin were generally known as Arará. The Arará were made up of a homogenous group of ethnicities and tribes. Their convergence in Afro-Cuban mutual aid societies called cabildos was the means that enabled the Arará to conserve their religious and artistic manifestations in Cuba.

Kiley Acosta interviews the Baró family on their history

In the decade of slavery circa 1870, at the age of eleven years old, Esteban Baró Tossú arrived on our lands from the region of Dahomey, presently the Republic of Benin. He was accompanied by his parents. In those years, they resided in Central Santa Rita Baró in the province of Matanzas, which is known today as Central Rene Fraga. The Baró family takes its last name from the province, as it was customary for slave owners to give their surnames to slaves in their possession so that the enslaved Africans would forget their own names. Due to this imposition, the young slave Esteban adopted the surname Baró.

When slavery was abolished in the year 1886, the Baró family moved to Bemba, present-day Jovellanos, to work on the town’s sugar plantations. Approximately ninety years ago, Esteban Baró Tossú took the initiative to create the African society “San Manuel and His Descendants.” The main objective of this society was to group together everyone who, in some way or another, practiced religious Arará rituals of African origin. In this way, he endeavored to make Arará rituals worthy of respect, and henceforth, practitioners would not confront difficulties when performing their ritual activities such as drumming and African dances, which they would carry out on corresponding days that were respected and upheld within the tradition. This institution was inaugurated on November 7th, 1920.

According to the stories of his descendants, Esteban brought with him everything that we know about Arará rhythms. In his day, it was customary for enslaved Africans to be “permitted” to celebrate their parties. This presented an opportunity for slaves, who took advantage of the celebrations to pay homage to the fodun (saint or oricha) of their devotion.

Over the course of many years, the Baró family has made very serious efforts to conserve their cultural traditions. March 23, 1977 marks one of their most significant achievements. On this day, the Baró family commemorates the founding of their own folkloric ensemble, whose name Ojundegara means “to the rhythm of the drum, I will return to my homeland.” As such, Ojundegara is the only performance group in existence today that has preserved these particular Arará rites along with their musical interpretation. The group was created by Esteban’s eldest children, Maximiliano and Miguelina, with help from Esteban’s grandson Miguel Mederos Baró, who currently serves as Director."

Video de Patricio "Papito" Baró, por AfroKuba, 9/2016top

Papito Baró is the youngest son of Esteban Baró Tossú, who came from Dahomey. He was a copadre of Chachá

Papito Baró es el hijo menor de Esteban Baró Tossú, quien vinio de Dahomey. Era copadre con Chachá.

Con el permiso de Miguel Ángel García Velasco, AfroKuba.

PAPITO BARO from Afrokuba on Vimeo. 

Vease tambien AfroKuba.com 
  

Grupo Folklórico "Ojundegara", Atenas: Portal de la Cultura Matanceratop

grupo ojundegaraParece provenir de una denominación jergal de los negros con respecto a la Villa Aradá en Dahomey, aunque no todos los negros procedían de este sitio. También fueron denominados Arará los hombres secuestrados Chama perteneciente a los pueblos de lengua adjá. Aparece en Jovellanos en el Cabildo San Manuel con carácter Mogino este ritual se caracteriza por su limpieza y la práctica del bien.

La familia Baró lleva esta religión por tradición integrado actualmente su mayoría el Conjunto Folklórico Ojundegara, este ejemplo posiblemente en América Latina sea uno de los pocos vestigios existentes. Ojundegara es un Ave abanderado de esa región africana tiene muy lindo plumaje y gran garganta donde quiera que canta se oye su voz. Esta agrupación tradicional creada el 23 de marzo de 1977 dedicada a conservar y trasmitir de una generación a la otra, las tradiciones legada por nuestros ancestros.

Ha representado dignamente nuestro país en Berlín, España, RDA durante estos 29 años perteneciente al movimiento de Artista Aficionados han participado en festivales, Percuba, del Caribe, Chano Pozo, Encuentro de grupos portadores, Wemilere. Galardonados don diferentes órdenes y medallas, grabaciones de discos y la obtención de Disco de Oro, propuesta al Premio Nacional de cultura Comunitaria. Mantiene relaciones y vínculos con estudiantes de universidades de distintos países: Estados Unidos, México, Colombia, etc.

El trabajo de Ojundegara no sólo está dedicado a los adultos, es digno destacar la labor de transmisión del territorio, realizando talleres con temáticas de africanía. Recientemente se han incorporado a los Programas Esperanza Social y Amanecer en el municipio Jagüey Grande llevando la cultura Arará a los jóvenes y enfermos de los países hermanos Venezuela y Bolivia. Podemos afirmar ciertamente: La Cultura Popular tradicional en nuestro localidad esta dignamente representada por esta agrupación que todo nuestro pueblo admira y respeta por su constancia y dedicación.

-- http://www.atenas.cult.cu/?q=node/2166

Articles/Artículostop

Arará ~ de Dahomey a Cuba: la familia Baró (Int. Kiley Acosta)  1/8/2016 YouTube: "A snippet of Baró family history. Interpreter: Kiley Guyton Acosta, PhD. Jovellanos, Cuba. December 24, 2015 Ojundegara is an internationally-acclaimed cultural heritage group founded by the descendants of Esteban Baró, an African child captured in Dahomey (Republic of Benin) and brought to Cuba as a slave circa 1870. The Baró family is recognized for impeccably preserving the arará traditions of Esteban’s ancestral homeland while ensuring that African traditions stay alive and thrive in the diaspora. Ojundegara has been honored with awards from UNESCO and Cuba’s Ministry of Culture for their cultural heritage preservation efforts. Kiley Acosta, PhD, serves as the group’s International Representative. Contact: kileyacosta@ConnectARTE.com * Español * Un pequeño fragmento de la historia de la familia Baró. Interprete: Kiley Guyton Acosta, PhD. Jovellanos, Cuba. 24 diciembre, 2015."

Legados Arará – Parte I  8/18/2013 Fratermidad Ifa: "En Matanzas, provincia cubana donde se fundaron los primeros cabildos Arara, le llaman Asoyi, y en Jovellanos, el asiento integrado por los Baró, le llaman Alua y Ojundegara."

Los Araras en Cuba (3)  2/13/2013 Raíces Cubanas: "En Jovellanos, tanto en casa de los Baró como en casa de Marcos Zulueta se le nombra Hebioso Ana Má."

Las Tradiciones Arará en Jovellanos.  9/4/2012 FotoPacheco: "Con un amplio programa de actividades se desarrollo exitosamente la IX Edición del Festival Cuba – Benin, en el municipio de Jovellanos, provincia de Matanzas, Cuba."

The Baró Family of Jovellanos, Land of the Lost Majino  2/15/2012 Baba Who? Babalú!: "In my quest to get to know the Arará world, last week I travelled three hours from Havana to the little town of Jovellanos, Matanzas Province. There, I spent the afternoon in conversation with Patricio Baró and his son Manuel. Patricio is the last surviving son of the famous Esteban Baró; his older and widely respected sister, Miguelina, died recently. Esteban’s parents were from Savalu and Atakpame, and he spoke both Yoruba and Fon-gbe, which he called Nago and Fono. Devoted to Dan Aïda Güeró, Esteban presided over the Sociedad San Manuel in Jovellanos, and his Güeró was impressive when it came down. He was also infamous for being irascible, refusing to share information outside of his family or the tiny Majino community."

PRINCIPLE OJUN DEGARA  2/7/2010 YouTube: "PERHAPS THE MOST RESPECTED GROUP IN CUBA THAT IS PART OF A TRADITION THAT DATES BACK THOUSAND OF YEARS. THE ARE THE PROTECTORS OF THIS TRADITION. THIS IS PERHAPS THE ONLY AVAILABLE VIDEO OF THIS GROUP WHICH STILL RESIDE IN JOVELLANOS, CUBA. THEIR DRUMS, DANCES ALL REFLECT THIS REMARKABLE TRADITION WHICH TRACES IT BACK TO DAHOMEY."

Festival Cultural Africano en Expocuba  5/25/2002 Cultura, Cuba: "La jornada inaugural contó, además, con el lanzamiento del Poema “El África que observo con mis dedos” del señor Antonio Gonçalves, Agregado Cultural de Angola, un espectáculo de acción plástica donde se integraron el grupo ISADANZA, Tropatrapo y el grupo Obba Areanle; un espectáculo musical a cargo del grupo Batanga Sonoc, y, concluyó la jornada, el grupo folkórico Ojun Degara [un grupo Arara fundado por la familia Baró] de Jovellanos, Matanzas, quien no sólo hizo bailar a los presentes si no que atrajo a numerosas personas que se encontraban en otras áreas del recinto ferial."

 

Discography/Discografíatop

www.discogs.com/Ojun-Degara-M%C3%BAsica-Arar%C3%A1/release/3764451
 

Links

Los Arará, Orishas Place

"Ojun Degara is perhaps one of the oldest and most respected guardians of what in Cuba is known as the Arara tradition. This tradition/ethnicity has been termed Adja/Ewe Fon as it relates to similar groups in Africa. Africans who arrived from the territory known as Dahome (what is now known as republic of Benin) were given this designation because of the seaport from which they departed: Alada. The founders of Ojun Degara (members of the well known Baró Family) are by far the most authentic and traditional of the Arara ensembles in Cuba. The music and dance they perfom are in honor of their deities known as Foddun or Voddun." - www.orishaproductions.com

 

 

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