Remigio Herrera Adeshina – The Nigerian slave who introduced Ifa religion to the Cubans

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Ifa religion

Ño Remigio Herrera Adeshina – Obara Meyi – was an enslaved Yoruba priest born in either 1811 or 1816 in Ijesha, Osun State, Nigeria. Adeshina and his mentor, Carlos Adé Ño Bí are said to be the main successors of the Ifá religion in Cuba.

According to the Cubans, Ño is a title used as a sign of respect “sir”. 

Ño Adeshina was sold into slavery in the 1830s. He was transported to Cuba from his home country. In 1833, he was baptized in Nueva Paz and given the name of Remigio Lucumí. Lucumí was an added name bestowed upon the Yoruba slaves brought to Cuba due to slavery.

There was no definite year of birth given by the Cuban authorities, as his marriage certificate denotes his year of birth as 1816 while the 1881 census records 1811 as his year of birth.

On an unfortunate day, he was captured, Adeshina swallowed a replica of the Orisha “Orula” or “Orunmila”. This eventually became a blessing for him in the later future of his slavery adventure, as he was able to master the use of the divination tool.

Upon getting to the land of slavery, he defecated the Ekin nuts he ingested which he would later keep on his person for divine readings and work – as documented by Frank Baba Eyiogbe in his book “Babalawo, Santeria’s High Priests: Fathers of the Secrets in Afro-Cuban Ifa.”

For a span of thirty years, Adeshina was enslaved and was employed by Don Miguel Antonio Herrera in Nueva Paz. Due to his specialty and excellent delivery, Adeshina was sent to work for his master’s in Havana.

His intelligence soon won him favor with his master and garnered him the ability to practice his faith efficiently.

In Rule, Adeshina came in contact with his future confidante, Carlos Adé Ño Bí – a free man who later paid for his freedom in 1850. However, the payment plus Adeshina’s revelation about his master’s guests secured his release.

In consulting his oracle, Adeshina made a circle using dried orange skins and branches of a vine to conjure a reading that saved the guests’ business ventures and saved them money.

Carlos was the owner of a winery which also served as space for Adeshina to perform his rituals rights. 

After his freedom from slavery, Adeshina became mobile in the urban Cuban society and got married. He first laid roots as a freeman in Matanzas City. He also lived in Rule where his daughter Josefa Herrera (Pepa Eshu Bí) and son Teodoro Herrera were born in 1864 and 1866, simultaneously.

He established the Cabildo Yemaya with Ño Filomeno García “Atanda”, Ño Juan “lame” and Aña Bí, who later became his wife. Subsequently, Adeshina became a property owner and constructor who afforded many well-maintained connections to influential individuals.

On several occasions, he traveled to Havana where he learned the skill of stonemasonry. He also trained others in the Lucumì religion.

By the late 1860s, Adeshina had set up a home in the village of Regla. He also owned real estate property at Calle Morales – which is widely called Street Perdomo.

In the Cuban society, Adeshina was highly respected as a wise ancestor and performed in many religious functions. Like a highly religious figure, he was greeted with a kiss on the hand and his admirers lowered their body on one leg as a Catholic priest would in a church setting.

He also had his image copied on portraits and appeared in Cuban newspapers, which was a bizarre occurrence for Africans in the country.

Adeshina died in 1905 in Havana, Cuba. Howbeit, his descendants still inhabit Cuba.

Africh Royale

Africh Royale

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