Cuba’s population of over 11 million is very mixed, because of its colonial history, in which the original native American population was largely supplanted by Spanish, imported African slaves and later Asians (mainly Chinese), with widespread intermarriage between the various groups. Consequently it is almost impossible to determine percentages of people of various lineages but in a country like Cuba this doesn’t really matter, as can be seen in these photos.
Havana has lively scenes of street theatre, with stilt walkers, music, children’s puppet shows and demonstrations of Brazilian martial arts on the various squares in the city, while in Callejón de Hamel, with its shrine to Afro-Cuban religions, Rumba groups play every Sunday. Although many Afro Cubans adhere to the Catholic faith, it is often practiced together with Santería, an Afro-American religion that developed here among the descendants of slaves, brought from West Africa. Its sacred language is Lucumí, a creolised remnant of the Yoruba language, a West African language spoken mainly in Nigeria and Benin. There are regular ceremonies, like in the Casa Templo de Santería Yemayá in Trinidad.
Music is everywhere, on the street, in cafés and roadside restaurants. Santiago de Cuba is considered the place where African rhythm first encountered Spanish tradition to produce the island’s inimitable music and it has numerous music halls, with the “Casa de la Trova” the first and most famous. There are now Trova halls in most Cuban cities, like the Casa de Trova in Baracoa, where local musicians perform daily for an appreciative audience.