Photo feature by Luis Enrique Munoz
HAVANA TIMES – Founded on April 21, 1990, Callejon del Hamel came to life down a random alleyway in Havana’s Cayo Hueso neighborhood, a mosaic of Cuban culture, or better yet Afro-Cuban culture. From the very entrance, we are welcomed by African warriors Elegbara and Oggun, located on the left and right, on a trip to African tribes of yesteryear with a modern twist.
They represent Yoruba to Regla de Palo Monte culture, in the tiniest of detail. They are icons to worship, pray to and even ask wishes to. They are found in this humble place, which is vibrant in color thanks to the work of artists who have left their mark there and others who work around the clock in this place and have their studios rooted in this mystical atmosphere, surrounding this piece of the city that is dedicated to African duendes.
These spirits help us every day with our daily chores, the good and evil that use us to fulfill their incomplete orgasms, as the music duo Buena Fe would say. It is in this place that I ran into a Medical Doctor who exhibits his art of engravings and colographies for everyone to see.
Visited by all kinds of people from all spheres of society, especially tourists, who come to learn about the wisdom, culture and mystery that these gods represent, brought from far away and who have been an inseparable part of our culture ever since they came up until the present day.
Enjoying a creole drink, soft drink or a swig of rum, you can hear music that even invites people with two left feet to dance; whether that’s a conga or a drum or a call with spiritist songs; Cuban rumberos who don’t play here aren’t worthy of the title. In order to receive a blessing from the beyond and gain approval, you need to pass through here. Although there are others like maestro Frank Fernandez, who in spite of playing classical music, has also been said to have passed through here, playing his music.
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