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Reviews of Cuban Festivals: A Century of Afro-Cuban Culture

“The essay ‘The Afro-Cuban Festival “Day of the Kings”‘ by Fernando Ortiz, founder of Afro-Cuban studies, describes how, as in Brazil, Catholic priests and the colonial government as early as 1573 allowed and encouraged the African slaves to celebrate Epiphany, the Festival of the Three Kings. … Free people joined in and the dances, music and costumes paraded by the various eyewitnesses demonstrate how early and how immense were the African contributions to what was to become the carnival of the African diaspora.

“Bettelheim’s second essay, ‘The Tumba Francesa and Tajona of Santiago de Cuba,’ describes two … groups which descend from the Creole-speaking Haitians, called Franceses. In their long history of race pride, revolt and rebellion, is a previously unknown revelation of diasporic history. The intense interplay of sub-rosa and African-connected groups is perhaps the most important revelation made by these essays.

“Thirty-six illustrations from the original Spanish Ortiz edition and twenty-six field photographs by Judith Bettelheim … help immeasurably to bring these little-known secular rituals to life.”
— New West Indian Guide

Carnival in Santiago … here, with her (Bettelheim’s) own two essays, the anthology really comes to life.”
African Arts

“This invaluable anthology … is required reading for those interested in Cuba’s history, religious forms, and popular culture.”
Cuba Update