This program is part of a series of radio documentaries on the musical culture of Cuba produced by Ned Sublette, author of “Cuba and Its Music”, for AfroPop Worldwide.

The program is built around the work of Dr. Ivor Miller, the only scholar to have gained access both to the Abakua society in Cuba, a social phenomenon unique to Havana and Matanzas, and to the mother culture in present-day Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon.

Interwoven with the conversation with Miller, Ned offers examples of how Abakua members continuously influenced the development of popular Cuban music.

Here are the original notes from the program:

The leopard cult of ekpe in Calabar, in present-day Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon, has one of the most unique performance traditions in all of Africa–a complex theatrical tradition, referred to in calabar English as “play,” which encompasses a cycle of sacred dramas that takes many years to execute.


The music of this society is almost completely unknown outside the region, because it was not recorded until the 1980s.. This program will feature Calabar-themed recordings by artists including Sexteto Habanero, Chano Pozo, Arsenio Rodriguez, and Los Munequitos de Matanzas.

Recommended resource: Ivor Miller’s YouTube channel

– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube

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