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Abakuá - Abakwá - Abacuá - Ńáńigo - Carabalíes

Abakuá members derive their culture from the Efik and Efo of the Cross River region in Nigeria, which Cubans call Carabali.  They are organized in a set of over 150 potencias (lodges) located mainly in Havana, Matanzas, and Cardenas.

The people of Big Qua Town in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, Nigeria, are known as the Abakpa, the likely source for the name Abakuá. Big Qua Town is the home of the president of the Calabar Mgbe or Ékpč.

The Cuban Abakuá societies have a male-only membership, their Ékpč equivalent in the Cross River State are called lodges in English, they are fraternities. Both the Cuban and Nigerian lodges are Ékpč lodges. In Calabar, there are also women's societies, which were not transferred across the Atlantic.

Ńáńigo is a negative term, dating back to the 19th and early 20th century when there was an intense repression of the Abakuá for their supposed associations with criminal gangs.

There is also in Cuba an Efo cultural manifestation organized along family lines, the Brikamo, carried by the Calle family in Matanzas.

In 2001, the Efik National Association in the US began to have contact with Cuban Abakuá. There is evidence of prior contacts between the Abakuá and the Efik in Cuba, but the contact has not until now been sustained. Among such evidence is a plaque hanging on the walls of a traditional leader of the Efiks.

The Abakuá gave us the rumba, one of Cuba's principal musical traditions. The Calle family, for example, is of Efo origin and is said to have invented the guaguanco, a type of rumba.


(c) Copyright 2002 by Pedro Perez Sarduy

Abakuá procession, 19th century Havana potencia in Havana given by an Obong,

We can also note that the Carabali culture in Santiago (cabildos) and  in the center of Cuba is also derived from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.  The name Carabali is derived from the slave port of Calabar, as distinct from the Karabali people of the Niger Delta.

Abakuá since the Revolution has undergone a number of changes, some of which are documented in an article on the Buro Abakuá (El Consejo Supremo de la Asociación Abacuá de Cuba), a state organization that now oversees the potencias in an effort to corral maroon africans from the point of view of a republicanismo ideology. Since around 2010, there has been a shift in official attitudes and Abakuá are now being viewed in a less negative way than they had been previously, so long as they are under state control.

Efik National Association


Abakwá Links

Ékpč Links  

Abakwá - Ékpč Links

General Links

Abakwá Links/Enlacestop

XVII Taller Científico de Antropología Social y Cultural Afroamericana y VI Encuentro de Oralidad “Festival Afropalabra”, 6 - 10 de enero 2013. Se dedica a la cultura Abacuá

Negracubana pensando en voz alta: El fenómeno abacuá 1/18/2013 Negra Cubana 

La sociedad abakuá y su influencia en el Arte  2/25/2012 Jiribilla: por Jesús Guanche

Jornada de la Cultura Abakua en Miami, 1/ 2012

Suppressing a Public Pilgrimage Commemorating the 27th of November, 1871, Day of the 5 Abakwá

Desde la Ceiba: Nota aclaratoria del Consejo Supremo Abacuá de Cuba, 2/10/12

A Cultural History of Cross River Civilization, National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC 11/28/11: 19th century Cuban Abakuá manuscripts.

El 138 aniversario del fusilamiento de los ocho estudiantes de medicina  y la inmolación de los cinco héroes negros, ńáńigos en 1871, Asociación Hermanos Saíz, esquina de Morro y Colón, la Habana, 27/11/09. This is a landmark commemoration for the Abakuá.  

Dia del Abacuá, Miami, January 2-3, 2010

First Abacuá Summer Festival in Miami, 8/09

Jesús Alfonso Miró, member of Efí Irondó Itá Ibekó and Musical Director of Los Muńequitos de Matanzas, passes to the ancestors
, 6/3/09

Homenaje for Ignacio Pińeiro in Jesus Maria, an Abakwá barrio in Havana
. Documentary out 6/09

El Tambor Llama! Tanbou A Rele!  (The Drum Calls)
Sacred Drumming Traditions of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Puerto Rico
, 4/25/09, New York Numerous photos and video.

First Abakuá Gathering in Miami
, 2/2009. We expect many more.

Roman Díaz y Omi Odara

The painter Orbein, from Cayo Hueso and now living in Miami, presents a gallery of images inspired by Abakuá themes, 8/08

Angel Guerrero: Abakuá from Pogolotti, 2/08

AfroColombian author, Stella Estrada, inspired by Abakuá, writes "Írimo",

Esquina Habanera - Efik and Abakuá - 8/6/2001: photo gallery

A Secret Society Goes Public: The Relationship Between Abakuá and  Cuban Popular Culture.” Ivor Miller, African Studies Review. vol. 43, no. 1 (April, 2000)

Andrés Petit: El hombre que vendió el secreto Abacuá, Muzio, María del Carmen,  Juventud Rebelde (25 agosto, 1996)

Consejo Supremo Abakuá de Cuba - Buró Abakuá - Asociación Abakuá de Cuba


Ékpč Links /Enlaces  
      N'dibo Yeve Ngo Blog

Old Calabar Rediscovered, Nkparom C. Ejituwu, Multi-Disciplinary Approach to African History, University of Port Harcourt Press, Nigeria 1998, PDF 6/6/2012

Death Squad attacks Obong Palace, Cross River State, Nigeria 8/25/08 The Obong, traditional ruler of the Efik, escapes unhurt, many are wounded.  Efik Ékpč lodges are ancestral to the Cuban Abakuá.

Before Calabar Burns, 8/8/2008 Press Release from the Etubom Traditional Council of the Efik Nation on the murder and mayhem committed by Cross River State government backed militias, with photos of some victims. 

Ekpo Ekeng
, Youth leader of Cobham Town and member of Calabar Mgbe, is interviewed on the recent events in Calabar, 8/08

Constitution of the Calabar Mgbe, 7/08 This Cross River, Nigeria, organization has as goal reunion with all Ekpe, including those in Cuba (Abakuá).

Ekpo Ekeng, youth leader of Cobham Town, Calabar, on the Paris Cuba-Ekpe Encounter
, 5/08

Narrated photo-gallery of the coronation of the new Obong of Calabar, 4/6/08 Calabar is one of the homelands of the Cuban Abakuá. Interview with Bassey Ekpo Bassey, now the new Obong of Calabar, on 2/25/08.  A progressive journalist, he favors the Cuban Abakuá's defense of their culture.  His people fought off 5 attempts at a second coronation by corrupt elements, resulting in over 20 machete wounds and at least 1 dead. The crooks were successful on the 6th attempt, backed by a massive Cross River Government security presence and with the support of missionaries bent on destroying Efik culture. See The Obong in the News for continuing news on the fall out of these events.

Interview with Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey
, now the new Obong of Calabar, 2/25/08 A progressive journalist, he favors exchanges with the Cuban Abakuá.

See a new Efik site:

Etubom Asuquo Etim: Maskmaker, musician, 12/05

The Investiture of Lady Elizabeth Ayo Eremie into the Ekoretonko Lodge, Calabar, Nigeria, 9/05

Nigerian Census: Igbo group protests exclusion of religion, ethnicity, 5/29/05

International Ekpe Festival, Calabar, Nigeria: December, 2004


Abakwá - Ékpč Relations top/ Relaciones Abakwá - Ékpč

Nasako Correspondence Calabar Mgbč/Cuba Abakwá - Correspondencia Nasako Mgbč/Cuba Abakwá, 11/13   

Report on the 2012 Násŕkó Festival, ties with Cubans approved, 6/12. The founders of Ékpč/Abakuá gather 
Informe sobre el Festival Násŕkó, 6/12, vínculos con los cubanos aprobados. Los fundadores de Ékpč/Abakuá se reunen  

The Násŕkó Family's Kebulu Felix Lenya on Africa - Cuba ties, May 2, 2012
Kebulu Felix Lenya, de la familia Násŕkó, sobre las relaciones Africa - Cuba, 2 de mayo, 2012

Desde Camerún a Cuba: una invitación a la reunión de 2012 de la gran familia Nasako, 6/2011  From Cameroon to Cuba: An invitation to the 2012 reunion of the 'Great Nasako Family', 6/2011

IV Coloquio sobre religiones afroamericanas. Dedicado a la influencia cultural de las sociedades EKPE de Nigeria, en la conformación de las sociedades religiosas de socorro y ayuda mutuas Abakuá en Cuba, 25 -27 Mayo 2011 - La Habana (Cuba) 

He came, he saw, he savoured. Daily Sun, Nigeria, 7/15/10: the story of Marcos David Ostrander Moreford, omo Olokun of Nigerian, Cuban, English and Panamanian ancestry who returns to Calabar to seek his roots, which include Abakuá

Bongo Ita - Efi, Efó, Orú de Cuba y los del Calabar — La Voz es la misma, 8/12/09 [PDF, 6 MB]

Cuban Abakuá fueling a resurgence of traditional Ekpe culture in Cross River Delta, Nigeria - Statement by ‘Iberedem’ Fred Eno Essien, ‘Ukai’ of Ibibioland, and prominent Ekpe leader from Uruan, 1/08  Chief Ekpenyong Eyo Honesty Eyo II, reflects upon the impact that knowledge of Cubban Abakua is having upon Ekpe leaders of the Cross River region, 1/08  Chief Ekong Imona reflects upon the impact of the Cubans in Calabar, 2/08

2003 Encounter in Michigan: Cuban Abakuá and the Obong of Calabar, 11/06 Angel Guerrero and Roman Diaz present Cuban Abakuá to the paramount ruler of the Efiks in the Cross River Delta, Nigeria., 11/06 Angel Guerrero and Roman Diaz present Cuban Abakuá to the paramount ruler of the Efiks in the Cross River Delta, Nigeria.  

Etubom Bassey Ekpe Bassey on Ekpe and Cuban Culture, English and Espańol, Calabar, Nigeria, 8/06

Efiks of Cuba Write Obong of Calabar: We're coming home, Weekend Chronicle, Nigeria, 2/05

Cuban Abakuá Participate in the Ekpe Festival, December 19-26, 2004, Cross River State, Nigeria, 4/05

Nigerian Efiks and Cuban Abakuá re-unite, 8/4/01

Homenaje for Ignacio Pińeiro in Jesus Maria, an Abakwá barrio in Havana

This was filmed in a documentary by an Italian company, out in June 2009

Left to right: El Goyo Hernandez,  Pedrito El Yuma, Frank Oropesa, bongocero for el Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Pineiro, El Negro Bonko de Ibonda, Palillo Bonko de Mutanga, Ismael Bonko de Ikanfioro. All are Abakwá musicians.


Thanks to Eoghan at University of Pennsylvania

El íreme Abakuá / Bárbara Balbuena Gutiérrez. Ciudad de La Habana :
Editorial Pueblo y Educación, c1996.

Ecorie Abakuá : cuatro ensayos sobre los ńáńigos cubanos / Tato Quińones.
 [La Habana] : Ediciones Unión, 1994.

Abakuá : una secta secreta / selección de textos Adriana Pérez Pérez,
Norma García Cabrera. Ciudad Habana, Cuba : Publicigraf, 1993.

Afro-Cuban religious experience : cultural reflections in narrative /
Eugenio Matibag. Gainesville : University Press of Florida, c1996.

Como suena un tambor abakuá / Arturo Lino, Neira Betancourt. Ciudad de La
Habana: Editorial Pueblo y Educación, c1991.

AfroCuba : an anthology of Cuban writing on race, politics and culture /
edited by Pedro Perez Sarduy and Jean Stubbs. Center for Cuban Studies. 
Melbourne, Vic. : Ocean Press ; London : Latin American Bureau ; New York,
NY, USA : Distributed in the USA by the Talman Co., 1993.

The Afro-Hispanic Abakuá : a study of linguistic pidginization / by
Raphael A. Núńez-Cedeńo, Roberto Nodal, [and] Rolando A. Alúm. Milwaukee :
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1982.

La Sociedad Abakuá y su poesía / Julio A. León and René León ; preface by
Antoine Oubari. Charlotte, N.C. : [s.n.], 1975.

The Abakuá language in Cuba : a glossary / compiled by Roberto Nodal.
[Milwaukee] : Dept. of Afro-American Studies, University of
Wisconsin--Milwaukee, 1976.

Linguistic folklore in the latin caribbean : a selected glossary of the
Abakuá language in Cuba / by  Roberto Nodal, Rolando A. Alum, Rafael
Núńez. [Milwaukee]: Department of Afro-American Studies, University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1977.


On Abakuá rhythms

Album des photos prises en parallčle au film "Jour des Rois, jour Abakua" le 6 janvier 2008 (jour des Rois) par Daniel Chatelain et José Antonio Betancourt.  - plenty good photos here!
N'dibo Yeve Ngo Blog'Masons'_of_Cuba

Bibliography on Abakwa music

Consejo Supremo Abakuá de Cuba - Buró Abakuá - Asociación Abakuá de Cuba: centralized state run organization designed to rule over the Abakwa potencias.



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