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Abakuá Icon by Ruddy

Musicologist Ned Sublette* has pointed out that though the sect of the Abakuá was probably born in Regla, across the bay from Havana, the deepest stronghold became the barrio of Los Barracones (the slave barracks), later called Jésus Maria. Like various people in Africa...the Calabar people filed their teeth to a point and the Abakuá, or ñañigos, continued doing so in Cuba.

* Cuba and Its Music, Chicago Review Press Inc. 2004

"The Abakuá in Cuba have formed the habit of wring down their knowledge in notebooks...they write down their stories and talk (encame ) as well as their firmas (signatures) and gandó signs, in what they call a treatise (Tratatos)...Rather than tell a story, the gandó pose questions for the reasder...the lineal strokes, whether straight lines or circles arches, snake-like curves and their ramifications establish orders of relationships and dependence..."

Argeliers Leon. "Para leer las firmas Abakuá.' Unión No. 10. Year iii Ap-Jn 1990 pp. 10-13

(Notes compiled by Gethin James)