We are the London Lucumi Choir and we have been invited to host this year’s International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave trade and its Abolition, on 23 August 2020.
Due to Covid-19, the majority of the day will be marked online.
Join us online at 3pm for our introduction to the day and a special choir performance.
Check back soon for information on how to watch the choir performance on the day.
What is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition?
The 23 August is marked internationally as the day for the remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition because it marks the revolution in Saint Domingue (now known as Haiti) in 1791.
The revolution marks a significant turning point in history, although it wasn’t until a century later that Slavery would be abolished.
Who are the London Lucumi Choir?
The London Lucumi Choir, is the first non-audition community choir of its kind worldwide.
We were formed 14 years ago to learn, sing and perform songs from the Orisha tradition as expressed in Cuba and the Afro-Cuban Diaspora.
The Choir is open to all, but it is run by practitioners of the Lucumi Religion. Over 14 years we have performed in many venues large and small, and produced 4 albums. We will be featuring songs from our latest album on 23 August.
What is Lucumi?
The Lucumi faith is also known as Santeria, or La Regla De Ocha, and has its roots within the Yoruba Community of West Africa.
It is one of the expressions of African traditional religion that exists in the Diaspora.
Other traditions include:
- Palo and Arara in Cuba
- Shango Baptist in Trinidad
- Candomble in Brasil
- Vodun in Haiti
- 21 Divisions in the Dominican Republic
These traditions survived in the psyche of African displaced people and were recreated to allow for a connection to the motherland and the divine, as well as a sense of power and autonomy.
Who are the Orisha?
The Orisha are deities that mediate between humankind and God, also known as Olodumare.
There are hundreds of Orisha, although some are better known than others. We will be singing specifically to Yemaya, Olokun and Shango.
In addition to the fact that these songs to these Orishas are featured on our last album Fire and Water, they are appropriate for this occasion.
Yemaya and Olokun are deities which rule the realm of the Ocean.
Olokun is the owner of the Ocean, the deepest part of the Ocean. Olokun is also seen as the protector of all those African People who lost their lives by murder or suicide during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Yemaya comes from the Yoruba Iyamonja which means “Mother of Fishes.” She is seen as the great mother of us all.
Shango is an elevated ancestor. A former King of the Oyo Kingdom. He is well known for being the King of the dance and drum, but he is also known for his passion with regards to justice and passion for life.
This year has been marked by an unmasking of injustices towards Black People worldwide and we sing to these specific Orisha to honour all ancestors that suffered injustice and all those present that live out the legacy and trauma of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Colonialism.
African Spirituality as Resistance and Revolution
Events leading up to the 23 August 1791 also included ceremonies and divination.
Vodun is documented as a significant context within which the revolution was enabled, despite the fact that the religion was completely prohibited.
Similarly in Cuba, Lucumi has been significant in terms of rebellion and autonomy.
Lucumi grew within the Cabildos, which were organised by the European Authorities. These Cabildos were organised according to ethnic background.
Cabildos allowed for the practise, organisation and survival of African traditions and it is clear that African Divination systems were used to plan strategies for rebellion.
Cabildo leaders such as Hermengildo Jáurequi (leader of Cabildo Lucumí) and Juan Nepomuceno Prieto (Captain of Cabildo Lucumí Oyó) were highly involved in planning and implementing insurrections in 1835. It has to be understood that divination and Spiritual expressions were very much part of everyday life.
Prayer to acknowledge the ancestors
Read by Natalie Cooper who will be leading the Emancipation Ceremony.
The songs that we sing, are so much more than beautiful praise songs. They express a legacy and power. These songs belong to a living tradition that has been kept alive despite the Slave Trade, trauma, repression, and anti-religious philosophies such as Marxism in Cuba which effectively outlawed religious practices until the 1990s.
We are very proud to be presenting this important day this year.
Find out more about the London Lucumi Choir.