Kabiosile: afro cuban music from the source

Ferminita Gómez

Ferminita Gómez

According to Alfredo Calvo, Ferminita Gómez made approximately 60 Ochas in her lifetime, many of them with Ma Moncerrate as the Oriate. When he met her, she was already an old woman and he a young child. It was foretold in many itas that he would be the person to carry on the traditions of her house. In addition to teaching him about the religion, she also taught him to read. She put Agayu directly to his head, saying the Orisha of the volcanoes would either kill him or save him. He has since crowned many godchildren directly with Agayu.

Fermina Gómez

Fermina Gómez

Fermina Gómez (Ocha Bi, timbelese Olodumare) was a priest of Yemaya and a child of the two waters (Ochun and Yemaya). She is credited with bringing the secrets of Olokun to Cuba from Africa. She is also known as the founder of one of the largest ramas or branches of the Lucumi/Santeria religion, the Egwado (named after her village in Africa). Ferminita was Madrina to Alfredo Calvo, her last surviving godchild. She lived to be 107. Her spiritual name, Ocha Bi, means "Ocha is here."

Afro Cuban Music Video and Audio Samples

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La Fuerza del Tambor: Bata, Bembe y Guiro en Matanzas, Cuba

DVD, 90 minutes

Afro Cuban Drums of the Santeria Religion

Aña, the sacred bata drums

The Drummers and Singers

In an Ocha house with the sacred bata drums, there is really no such thing as a fixed group of drummers and singers. There are perhaps a dozen or more drummers who play Alfredo Calvo's two sets of Aña drums, and several of those drummers are also accomplished akpwons (lead singers). The chorus, of course, is made up of whoever happens to be at the tambor. But the best drumming celebrations tend to have the same core of drummers and singers, and those are the people who appear on both Kabiosile DVDs and the CD.

The Santeria Religion in Matanzas, Cuba

Santeria is a dynamic example of the perseverance and inventiveness of the West African slaves who were brought to Cuba to work on the sugar plantations. These slaves brought their spiritual traditions with them and, when forced by the slave owners to convert to Catholicism, cunningly hid their religious secrets inside the imagery of their masters' Saints.

New DVD Captures Living History of Afro Cuban Folkloric Music in Matanzas, Cuba

“La Fuerza del Tambor” (The Power of the Drum) documents the ritual music of the Lucumi Santeria spiritual tradition as played in Matanzas, Cuba. Nine selections from various public drumming ceremonies illustrate drum rhythms, songs, and dances for the African deities known as Orishas. The film includes rare footage of the Bembe Macagua drums, which are unique to Matanzas, and an unusual sequence of Palo Mayombe songs accompanied by the sacred bata drums. The DVD features interviews with elders of the Afro Cuban religious community and several drumming demonstrations.

San Francisco, CA, April 16, 2006 -- “La Fuerza del Tambor” offers a rare look inside Cuba’s African religious community and captures a piece of history that is in danger of being lost. The DVD was released in April, 2006 by Kabiosile and features public religious celebrations, drumming demonstrations, and interviews with elders of the Lucumi Santeria and Palo Mayombe traditions. It includes never-before-seen footage of a unique set of Lucumi bembe drums, called Bembe Macagua, and a rare sequence of Palo Mayombe songs played with the sacred bata drums. It also shows more traditional examples of the power of the drums to communicate with the African deities known as Orishas. The film was recorded live in the home of Alfredo Calvo, widely regarded as the most knowledgeable Santero and Palero in Matanzas.

Orishas of the Santeria (Lucumi) Religion

Echu or Elegua

The Orisha who opens our doors and our roads, he is the messenger and is always honored first in any ceremony. Known as the Trickster, Elegua is like a mischievous child who delights in making trouble. His colors are most often represented as red and black. Sometimes spelled Elegba.


Kabiosile is an independent film and record company dedicated to preserving and sharing music from the various Afro Cuban traditions found in Matanzas, Cuba. The name is an Afro Cuban pronunciation and spelling of the Yoruba word "kabiyesi," which means "Hail your Majesty." Kabiosile!

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