New Influences…or Legacies?

Regina Cano

Calle 13 concert in Havana.

Que bolá papi! (What’s happening daddy).  This can be heard between young guys who meet and immediately exchanges kisses on the cheeks.  While such encounters may seem strange to many older people, they have become typical among the young generation in Cuba.

The incorporation of a handshake, a hug, pats on the back and the phrase que bolá, as well as the rest of greeting mentioned, has been increasing with young people here.

This is occurring among a people that still sees fathers scolding their children (though less than earlier) for wanting to give them a kiss.  You can still hear, “Those aren’t men’s things” or “those are things for little girls and fags.”  So this is something that surprises some people.  The environment of many “males” in Cuba still prohibits them from crying. “Real men don’t cry,” some say.

It is known that the sole setting where a kiss occurred between men was the godchild-godfather sacrament among the Afro-Cuban religions or orders of the Babalawo*, the Santeros* and the Abakuas*.  Within those also converged homosexuals, though this generally goes unmentioned, and even today many don’t realize the occurrence.

Some people believe that the new style is establishing itself from religious liturgy or due to the growth of the Ñáñiga* population.  A few others believe that to this can be added —forcefully— the custom that came from come Puerto Rico and that spread thanks to the widely seen movie about the life of rapper Daddy Yankee.

People! It raises questions in my mind when I find out that something in the behavior of my compatriots is inspired by foreign attitudes.  But it also could be that in the long run the new fashion is achieving an indirect influence on the consciousness of the significant degree of machismo that remains here today.  Let’s wait to see who has the last word.  At least it appears to be another small step toward liberation, though this too can bring along bad company with it.

* Babalawo: An intermediary and interpreter of the table of Ifá, through which the designs of Olofi are evidenced, great Yoruba divinity.

* Santero: Someone whose head has been consecrated as a saint and who can intermediate between the two worlds. This constitutes a lower hierarchic position than the Babalawo priest.

* Abakuás or Ñáñigos: Members of the Secret Abakuá Society.

Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.