Archivo de Made In Cuba

Archivo Made In Cuba

Ñañá Seré

When you hear the popular refrain, “En tiempos de Ñañá Seré” (“In the time of Ñañá Seré”) you probably imagine that it refers to something that happened a long time ago, but like many, you probably have not stopped to think about who Nañá Seré was.

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Last in the line?!

Do you know what it means in Cuba when somebody asks out loud for “el último” (“last in the line”)? It is a sign of social discipline, courtesy, and having the tact not to violate the rights of other people who were there first. This unwritten rule for standing in line is one of the ones that people most frequently observe. It guarantees your right to your turn for whatever your business might be, according to when you arrive at a given place.

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Three times around the ceiba

For white, black and Chinese people, the ceiba is a sacred tree. Untouchable. Like the palm tree, it has its own personality. Neither storm nor hurricane nor lighting affects it, and it is not pruned or cut down without the permission of the gods. Anyone who plants a ceiba becomes committed to it for life, because his or her luck, health and general well-being depends on it. It is a throne. In its foliage live orishas [Yoruban deities], our ancestors and the Catholic saints.

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El Cerro “has the key”

There are expressions that arise and that remain for all time. I am not talking about common phrases such as “It was his/her time,” so often repeated at wakes, or “such is life,” implying resignation, nor am I referring to proverbs. Rather, I am focusing on expressions that spring from the popular imagination in certain circumstances and then continue to be used beyond the event that caused them to come about. Sometimes we include them in our conversations without knowing where they come from. Comedians and musical composers also create expressions that persist.

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