Monday, May 19, 2014

SUNY Orange (Middletown, NY)

Florida oranges are great, but this time I was in New York...thanks to an invitation from Dr. Vincent Okock and SUNY Orange Global Initiative. Vincent Odock, Professor of Business and Economics, is from Nkim village in Cross River State, Nigeria--the same place where I've been doing research for over 20 years. I enjoyed sharing both ends of my research "Africa" and "Florida" with this audience and was extremely impressed with all the questions from the SUNY Orange crowd (must be all that good Vitamin C). For those who aren't familiar with the Cross River region in West Africa, take a look a Chapter 3 ("Cross the Water" including an interview with the poet Adrian Castro) and Chapter 16 ("Abakua Communities in Florida: Members of the Cuban Brotherhood in Exile" by Ivor L. Miller).

Leopard society masquerades in Nigeria (Ebonko), Cuba (Ireme), and Florida (Ireme). Leopard Societies in Nigeria and Cameroon had traveled to Cuba due to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. While these male ritual organizations have many different types of masquerades in Africa, the masquerade associated with the mother of the Leopard spirit is the only masquerade character that is performed in Cuban Abakua tradition. This performance element was then carried to Florida as Cubans migrated to the Sunshine State over many decades. Photos by Jordan Fenton (left), by Amanda Carlson (center), and by Angel Guerrero (right).

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