Click on the photos for full page versions. All photos © Gloria Rolando, 2001
|Four Mambises children||Mambises fighters|
|Mother & daughter mambisas||Mambi fighter cradling his rifle|
Click on each photo for a blow-up.
Photos of the Liberation Army ("Los Mambises") from
Raíces de mi corazon by Gloria Rolando
The Mambi Army was the National Army of Liberation that defeated the Spanish through two wars: 1868 to 1878 and again, 1895 to 1898. Mambi is a Congo word. Recent estimates of the participation of Cubans of African descent in the Mambi run as high as 92%.
Antonio Maceo, "the Bronze Titan," led the Mambi Army. His second in command was Quintín Bandera. In typical Congo fashion, their ritual roles were reversed: Bandera was the Tata Nkisi of the Mambi Army Nganga, the prenda or "magic cauldron" of the Mambises. And Antonio Maceo was the Mayordomo or Bakonfula of the prenda, which today is still a working prenda in Regla.
Invited by a Cuban plantocracy that was worried about the ascendancy of blacks, the Americans with Teddy Roosevelt intervened in 1898, routing a Spanish force that had already been defeated by the Mambi Army. And ironically enough, we now know that the 10th Cavalry, the Buffalo Soldiers, played a vital role in Teddy Roosevelt's adventure, providing the critical push that took San Juan Hill.
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