14 November 2012

An analysis of Post-Revolutionary Cuba through the eyes of Tomás Gutiérrez Álea’s “LA ÚLTIMA CENA” (2004)



An analysis of Post-Revolutionary Cuba
through the eyes of
Tomás Gutiérrez Álea’s “LA ÚLTIMA CENA”

by Hiáli neX

The film entitled, “La Última Cena” (The Last Supper), is a classic film by Cuba’s most renowned Director, Tomás Gutiérrez-Álea.  All though based on an actual event that occurred in the 1740’s, the plot is laid out in the style of the "Jesus" concept during the "Last Supper"- a Biblical tale about Astrology explained as a last meal shared by a mythical character prophet named "Jesus" along with his twelve "disciples".  The events depicted in this film are visual snapshots into the mythical "crucifixion" of "Jesus" (a cultural take on the story of "Horus", later known as "Zeus"/”Apollo"/"Buddha"/"Sango" in cultures which proceeded Kush & Egypt).

In plain math, these "sacred" events are esoteric symbols and handed-down ideas/myths regarding our randomised thoughts about Life.  Mythology tends to get discarded when humanity moves on to something else.  Evolution is a natural thing.  Why create mythology in the first place?  We are spatial and visual.  We see visual relationships between things not readily explainable with words.  Our own logic tries to make sense of the unknown using whatever exists within our limited mental scope and attempts to moralise it, but our creative mind relates what we are seeing to something that exists within our own realm of sensory awareness.  It doesn't moralise it, but it spatially/visually relates it as something most visually-familiar.  For sake of creative license, Álea relates "Abrahamic" myth to pre-Revolutionary and historical Cuba; adding a few twists to take the viewer by surprise. 

"Abrahamic" institutions tend to have a collection of dogma that have aggregated several layers of feasible information from whatever previous esoteric ideas existed at the time the information was first considered political "axiom".  It had layers upon layers of borrowed traditions; each layer set in place by whatever dominant culture used it politically at any given time.  How they were tacked onto its main line of dogma depended on political trends.  The most obvious 'main line of dogma' in "Abrahamic" tradition involved astronomical events that occurred during the Winter Equinox in the northern hemisphere at around the time "Christianity" was popularised in Rome.  Circum-Mediterranean socio-cultural influences were politically pointed towards one single important event, the life cycle of the Sun.  "Christianity" explained the astronomical observations of the Sun as it moved through its yearly cycle.  Its characteristic energy across every season was symbolically-explained via myth in order to help everyday people connect to some familiar philosophical paradigm that did not all ways involve constant ponderance of the Existential.

The "familiar philosophical paradigm" of early agriculturalists resulted in an anthropomorphised/ zoomorphised ideology which could readily explain what they saw in laymen’s terms.  This helped them understand Nature’s ways in order to better plan how to sow/reap crops accordingly.  It was a system of symbols ascribed to the seemingly recurring energy that surrounded and included us. This is, of course, all viewed from a less-evolved mind.  They didn't have all the information we've accumulated since then in their mental arsenal.  Their "right-brains" were merely relating thoughts about their environment via a pre-Modern Scientific frame of mind.  Astrology (and all its associated descriptives) was borne out of necessity, but went on to include all happenings within our energy-influenced bio-sphere.  Michel Gauquelin's statistics on planetary effects shows us that there is truth to the idea that we are, somehow, affected by energies that emanate from the outer-worldly Universe.  It underscores with valid data that what surrounds us, affects us.

"From everyone who has been given much,
much will be demanded;
and from the one who has been entrusted with much,
much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48) 

With great knowledge comes great power and responsibility.  Originally a function of "philosopher-kings", the shift of knowledge and wisdom from priests to rulers came about when certain greedy individuals desired more power over people.  They used the priestly classes to help them amass this pre-Scientific knowledge.  Sans the wisdom of the "philosopher-kings", these individuals horded all the information to themselves.  They twisted around known esoteric narratives in order to help explain how some "divinity" had bestowed upon them their power to rule. 

The concept of "divine rulership", and how the Sun figures into it, goes back to the dawn of civilisation.  Cultural stories explaining the Universe were simply mnemonic devices used, first, to explain something and, second, to elevate the Self and/or someone else.  Today, we've evolved beyond simplistic esoteric ideas and opt to use Math & Science to fulfill this elevative function instead.  In Africa, Akhenaten tried to point the polytheistic Egyptians towards the idea of solar reverence, making himself the sole representative of the Sun.  Though he did not succeed at convincing them to adopt this idea, the concept of "divinity" as empowering the ruler would later become, for those seeking power, a sole political "raison d'être".  Institutionalised esoteric ideas were, since then, used to conquer.  "Divine law" was utilised to keep entire groups of people blindly loyal to the "Crown" whilst its priests existed, largely, to convince the masses that they should accept being ruled without question.  The role of "religion" as a vehicle for learning about esoteric ideas had been reduced to an institution solely used to dominate others via some form of politically-sanctioned narrative.

Wherever "Abrahamic" myth was applied politically, vasts amounts of force and coercion were used.  This particular mythological narrative shaped the direction of dual-continental American politics for the past few hundred years.  The "divine rulership" role played by "Christianity" in America had far-reaching effects.  In specific regards to Ibero-America, Roman "Catholicism" would overwrite the prevailing solar veneration mythology that had all ready existed there for tens of thousands of years.

In “La Última Cena”, "Jesus" is transposed yet again.  From Kushitic, Jewish, Egyptian, Mesopotamian & Indian sources, the generic story of a prophet (played by "Jesus" in the “Abrahamic” tradition) is set into a context of European, African and American colonialism. The state religion of "Christianity" was the law.  The conquerors of America forced their own political standard which used "religion" to manipulate and rule.  The film's historical undertones drew parallels to life in Cuba before the 1959 Revolution, an event that changed the course of Cuban history forever.

In the film, a wealthy Cuban planter decided to get into the spirit of the "Christian" Holy Week after a conversation about the "Bible" with a local friar.   Borne out of the planter's own desire to not feel guilty for being a slaveowner, he invited twelve of his enslaved Africans to a huge feast on Holy Thursday.  It is at this “Last Supper” where the film spent most of its time.  Gutiérrez-Álea explored the meeting of two cultures via an up-close interaction between a planter and his slaves.  The conversations delved deeply into the twisted psychology that developed as a result of European and African hostilities during the initial period of native American and African enslavement in the West.

The film debuted in 1976 when Cuba had established its formal Constitution.  The island declared itself Socialist after undergoing a seventeen-year metamorphosis from a staunch Communist (Stalinist-Leninist) nation to a more specifically “Cubanised” one.  Before Castro and his rebels seized control of the island, Cuba was ruled by U.S.-installed dictator, Fulgencio Batista.  Batista, a "mulatto", was considered by the majority of Cubans to be the epitome of evil incarnate.  Seventeen years after the revolution, Batista’s brutal and murderous regime was still fresh in the minds of many older members of Cuban society; particularly those of African descent.  Batista was the “Mulatto Overseer” of Cuba, whilst the United States took on the role of the aristocratic planter; sometimes benevolent, yet most of the time conniving and cruel in its outlook and isolating and dominating in its policies towards a resistant Cuba, as well as other non-U.S. American nations.  U.S. policies allowed its citizens economic growth due to its dominance of non-U.S. American governments.  The Spanish-speaking nations of America became the "banana republics" which propped up the U.S. economy; whilst its trade was made exclusive to U.S. interests.  This was not viewed favourably by citizens of those nations and made many of them perceive the U.S. as a whole entity rather than as individual people in a nation that changes its administration every 4 to 8 years.  The U.S. entity, or the U.S. brand, was seen as restrictive and unfair; a nation that favoured its own citizens at the expense of others and, when given the chance, would seek to advance its own brand over those of other local American nations.

Within Gutiérrez-Álea’s visual social commentary, the island of Cuba- as a whole- was embodied in the character of the most rebellious slave present, “Sebastián” (after a "Christian" martyr of the same name).  He represented the will of the everyday Cuban who yearned to be respected by an overpowering neighbour.  Like the “Sebastián” character, many island Cubans stood proudly against a pointless trade embargo that has historically attempted to bring their entire nation down to its knees because of its views.  The Cuban people were “whipped” to the point of death yet, like “Sebastián”, they remained resilient.

Gutiérrez-Álea’s neo-realist depiction of the wide range of social types that existed in 18th Century plantation society was painted with both broad and fine political brushes.  The differences between the “house” slave and the “field” slave were emphasised.  The “house” slave was often shown with a white kerchief around his head (a cheap substitute of the powdered white wigs worn by the aristocracy).  Most of the time he begged the Cuban planter not to be sent out to the fields with the “dirty stupid blacks”, preferring to sleep in a bed and serve dinner or even clean the house rather than toil in the sugar fields. When asked what he liked about working in the field, another African responds: “ndoko” (having sex), which denotes his Congolese origin.  “Bangoche” , an actual historical figure from Cuban lore, stated he was a “Lukumi” king who had been captured in Guinea and brought to Cuba in chains.  Their randomised behaviour at the dinner table carried remnants of distinct African cultures.  Each of the twelve Africans showed personalities that were, more or less, in relational contrast to one another.  “Bangoche’s” attitude came off as more urban and composed than the other rowdy agricultural types who sat at the table.  And, still, “Sebastián”- the tangential "Judas" figure of the twelve- was the most cautious and reserved out of the entire group.

The "Judas" myth is a representation of transformational "Scorpio", a concept used to anthropormorphise/ zoomorphise the energy of the Sun (or any point energy source) as it travels through the "dark" side of its life.  Its pointed message of violence and transformation were highlit in the interaction between the mythical solar "Jesus" figure, represented in the film by the planter, and the "Judas" character, embodied by the rebel, Sebastián.

In the year 1740 most Africans were brought in from the Congo and were Bantu-speakers.  The Yorùbá tribes of Southwestern Nigeria would not be brought in record numbers until late in the 19th Century.  The Yorùbá were a historical "solution" to the increasing "Congo problem".  A people all ready used to living in complex societies, the Yorùbá were thought to be more urbanised than many of the initial groups who were living at that time in the Caribbean.  It was believed that their urban docility could be farmed in order to harvest more specific skills than could be taught the Congolese; the majority of Africans in 18th Century America.  They would also be less prone to rise up against their enslavers as their more warrior-like predecessors often did.  The Congolese brought to the Caribbean were enslaved for agricultural purposes and were, thus, aggressive and hearty individuals. Their independent and bellicose nature made them harder to subjugate.

The role of the aristocratic Cuban planter was one played by most Europeans (particularly those of Spanish descent) who, all though living in a colony of Spain, did very little to adhere to any of the laws set forth by a nation halfway across the world.  They often times acted on their own conscience.  Sometimes they did the right thing, but most of the time they did not.  In the case of the Cuban planter: he was made to feel guilty by a local friar for not having much faith, so the planter responds to the best of his Biblical knowledge.  He draws upon the "Last Supper" portion of its scripture and filtres it through his own fears.

He devises an idea that would ensure his slaves would remain loyal to him and not betray him like "Jesus'" disciples had done to "him".  His re-enactment of the "final meal" of "Jesus" was a chance to redeem himself with his own personal interpretation of the "Christian" political belief system whilst contemplating his own economic interests.  Typical of most aristocracy, he let the "Overseer" do the work of selecting twelve slaves at random.  Once chosen, the planter proceeded to wash the feet of his “disciples”, but did so in a most arrogant manner.  As he went down the line of seated slaves, “Sebastián” (the rebellious one), spat in his face.  Rather than kiss the face of his slave owner as "Judas" did to "Jesus", “Sebastián” would, later on, lead the revolt against the planter’s sugar mill.

The character of the friar was reminiscent of most of the friars at that time.  Their intention was to Christianise the native American and African people of the Iberian colonies at whatever cost.  All though they were supposed to ensure that all people followed "Christian" political law, the friars were quite often just as ignorant and abusive as the greedy sugar plantation owners that lived in those days- if not more.  Friars were chosen demagogues.  As such, they were disseminators of an archaic "Abrahamic" perspective of esoteric ideations and, out of ignorance, used it as a way to justify abuses.  Those claiming to "know" more than anyone else without any peer-reviewed proof of their knowledge, let alone wisdom, kept alive a ruse that a "divine wisdom" given to them/inspired by (any Deity embodying the "Universe") was the reason they deserved to rule over everyone else and anyone who did not agree was dealt with severely.  Though obviously not up to today's standards in how we see the Universe or treat individual human rights, the friar's control over island society in those days made their views pivotal and, bar none, most influential in the outcome of all situations.  These types of priest-led governments are still seen in parts of the Middle East and Africa where some nations employ the vagueness of Esoterica and its very archaic views of the world to pass dehumanising laws against their own citizenry.  Rather than adhere to actual common sense laws that respect all of humanity and each person’s individual rights, some of these nations have chosen to walk backward instead of forward.

The character of the "Mulatto Overseer” was a “criollo” (native-born) with free license to destroy the lives of Africans placed beneath him.  The “Overseer” was given free reign to deal with them as he saw fit in order to make them work.  He lived in the shadows of the Spanish elites forever; condemned to be caught in the middle of their archaic European "racial" caste system with no real identity of his own except as a proxy between two groups of people who would never see eye to eye.

As with most Cuban films after 1959, “La Última Cena” was a definite social commentary signaling to all the Cubans who remained on the island that there was no going back to the way things were in the past.  The first truly Cuban-specific feature films emerged in and around 1905.  After some success as a distinct national brand, Cuban cinema would- instead- go on to be dominated for almost fifty years by markets with foreign capitalist concerns.  This was most evident in the Latino films of the early- to mid-20th Century.  Films from Latin America were “Hollywood-ised” in order to appeal to a wider global market.  Their core cinematic ideas and manner of storytelling were steered in large part by the "Good Neighbour" policies of the early 20th Century; policies which were derived from late-19th Century Pan-American "good will" politics.  We saw an over-abundance of Mexican “Ranchera” films.  Argentinean "Gaucho" and "Tango" movies were also popular at this time.

All though Cuban cinema had become excessively commercialised in all aspects of its national production, it was here where Gutiérrez-Álea’s renaissance for Cuban Neo-Realism found fertile ground to innovate. Gutiérrez-Álea had, like fellow Cuban writer-filmmaker (and UNEAC/ICAIC founder)- Julio García-Espinosa, studied at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome (1952-54).  He arrived back in Cuba ready to apply his inspired techniques from the Italian Neo-Realist Movement to a much-needed Cuban national cinema.  A new cultural perspective was ready to be unleashed.  As typified by the Neo-Realist Movement, the locations used were actual places and the lighting techniques leaned heavily towards natural.  The camera was mostly handheld; especially outside the planter’s house, lending to a sense of uneasy reality for African people.  Much of the language and dialogue in “La Última Cena”, specifically from the Africans, gives us the sense of where the “missing link” or “most obvious transitional point” was for the African surrender to Spanish cultural and linguistic ways.

For example, they tended speak in 3rd person rather than 1st & 2nd person: “Esclavo Antonio dice”--"[I] the slave Antonio say" or “Mi amo dice”--"[You] my master say".  While this made objects out of people, the Spanish syntax used in the before-mentioned manner revealed the familiar West African speech pattern of calling attention/paying respect to the person speaking before actually saying what they wanted to say.  This could also be attributed to the cult of subservience and politeness an African person was forced to adhere to when being spoken to by a European slavemaster.  Disrespecting a European meant severe punishment, and even death.  They also used repetition for emphasis:  “Caminan y caminan”--"They walk and they walk".  This practice of repeating something more than once is typical of West African linguistic patterns.  The Yorùbá would say: “Da” (Good!), but if they really liked it they would say: “Dada” (Good! Good!).  It was the common speech of the everyday African.  All though the Africans gave up much of their language in the early days of slavery and assimilated into their newly-adopted culture, many of the linguistic speech structures, as well as, many specific words have remained and are being used today in everyday Caribbean Spanish vernacular.

The world of this film took place at a critical juncture in Cuban history: when the colonial Spanish elite chose capitalism over "Christianity".  Plantation chapels depicted here would largely disappear in the following decades from the time period covered in this film.  Also, the idea that Spain was somehow more caring and loving towards its Indigenous and African populations (as put forth through the Tannenbaum thesis of the 1940’s, regarding the latter)was shown to be false.  Slaves in the Spanish colonies were simply worked to death, with the assumption that more could easily be obtained by Arab and Portuguese slavers who ran back and forth to Africa collecting souls.  In “La Última Cena”, Gutiérrez-Álea showed us that, all though the Spanish planter appeared to show ultimate compassion for his slaves by granting them all a free day from work and even one of them their freedom, in the end, it was all about work, sacrifice and ultimate sub-subservience to an imaginary Deity. This Deity, conveniently, resembled the planter rather than anyone else.  Mythological tales were twisted to serve a political purpose: enslavement & free labour, rather than used to explain the then-fledgling science of astronomy to an educationally-evolving people.

Esoteric ideas were ancient methods of producing an understanding based on the gathering of knowledge by those wisest enough to do so.  The "Universe" was explained when early "philospher-kings" assigned symbols to various phenomena in order to account for external Existential events.  Today, these ideas have evolved under much scrutiny into modern Mathematics.  Esoteric ideas have gone way beyond their curious and often vague ruminations to gain a critical stance in explaining the "Cosmos".  Even though these once-novel ideas are, collectively, seen as being a root of Math and Science, their political aspect is no longer relevant in the modern world.  Modern society has gone beyond accepting the unproven and, instead,  opted to figure out and explain as much of it as it possibly can.  Furthermore, we have evolved and are continually evolving in our understanding of humanity and the inalienable rights of every single human and living thing.

The manipulation of early esoteric ideas to serve a conquering mentality can no longer survive and thrive in an intellectually sharp society.  Modern Mathematics seeks to go beyond the so-called "God"/"Allah"/"Yahweh" (etc.) glass ceiling.  A few millennia later, mastery of this "godless" symbology (mathematical formulae) has allowed humanity to become increasingly complex.  More control of Mathematics has allowed us to do more things in Life.  We are progressing.  Those who do not see "religion" critically miss out on the advancement of Mathematics.  It is a system begun in the study of ancient Alchemical ideas, but since, evolved.  Adoption of uncritical self-questioning, when it comes to their own beliefs, puts them at the mercy of cult leaders who misinterpret the esoteric out of ignorance and/or with a driven desire to subjugate and control.

Historical slavery in the Arab and American cultural worlds are notorious for gross misinterpretations of so-called "Abrahamic holy texts".  This allowed them to keep the uncritical "religious" masses stupid and, therefore, controllable.  In the film, the planter used the limited stories he knew from the "Bible" to show his slaves that they are simply meant to be slaves forever and that sacrifice is required by all of them if they are to reach “heaven”.  The idea of "sacrificing" in order to achieve is an obvious natural part of life.  Paying homage to the food one eats also makes sense.  It’s a form of gratitude.  But, the doctrine of “religion” was misinterpreted to favour the dialogue of the conqueror.  The stories were twisted around conveniently a la carte depending on who was proselytising.

The mindset of using esoteric ideas to rule is as old as humanity.  During the Roman Empire, a myth was adopted from an astronomical event of Afro-Asiatic origin: the appearance of the Sun at the Winter Equinox against the Crux constellation; all ready known to pagans across Europe as the "winter solstice" event.  Many civilisations from around the globe have observed these basic astronomical events; and, many, have created some sort of story to explain its significance.  From our geocentric perspective, the Sun appears suspended against the Crux constellation for three days.  This is an apparent perspective seen from Earth due to the tilt of the planet at the poles and its 365-day trek around the Sun.  After three days of appearing "stationary", the Sun begins to increase its position in the firmament by inching one degree higher in the sky than the previous day.  This increase in light from the Sun culminates on "Easter" ("Ishtar"), when day and night reach equal length in the northern hemisphere.  These natural movements of planetary bodies appear this way only from the northern hemisphere; where many of these esoteric ideas were first aggregated into so-called "holy texts".  In the southern hemisphere "Christmas" occurs astronomically on the 25th of June (6 months later); several days after their "winter solstice" on the 21st.

The Crux constellation was visible to the ancient Ptolemaics who once connected it to the Centaurus constellation. It was also a fixture in the British sky since, at least, the fourth millennium BCE.  Historical records give us clues to a possible political connection between the Sun's use as a "moral" and "political" compass in the Roman Empire and the ancient "Sol Invictus" celebrations of pagan Europe.  The first mention of an actual date for "Christmas" was around 200 ACE.  "Christians" were not borrowing much from pagan traditions at this time; save for the "Sol Invictus" celebrations of pre-Roman Europe.  This concept was, essentially, "Romanised" to fit national views.  The state “religion” of Rome used ancient Kushitic, Egyptian, Greek and Eastern Mediterranean ideas as the official mythology its population should: adhere to and focus their lives upon.

The astronomical meaning of “Christmas” is that it is a birthday party for Earth’s life-giving Sun.  This is an idea shared by many humans.  It was the basis of many earlier civilisations; including the Roman Empire, whose official church dogma gravitated wholly around esoteric ideas regarding the transformational characteristics of the Sun.  The “Passion” of the “Christ” (Sun) is anthropomorphised as a figure named “Jesus” in the inevitable cycle of “his” life; a series of explanatory tales based on much earlier myths.  It is a tale told countless of times and coloured by whatever society happened to be telling the tale.

In ancient times, some esoteric teachings- like those of Pythagoras- existed to enlighten scientifically.  Symbols and fast ideas were assigned to celestial happenings as a way of reading ourselves as we evolve within this universal “One”.  Today, numbers, letters & typography allow us to peer closer into our universal “One”.  It is viewed objectively, no longer just subjectively.  Evolution using ever-increasing ancestral information has furthered our understanding of this universal “One” we live within.  As an efficient species, we removed the extraneous information and utilised the simplest forms to explain the more complex.  When mythology is accepted as factual and not as a vehicle meant to convey an idea, it usually means the person is actually living in that belief.  They see themselves through it.  That is natural; the “religious” experience belongs to the individual.  No one else can follow one's own directives in Life, but that one individual.

Over-zealous people, however, tend to inject their sometimes-unwanted personal belief into other people’s lives.  They don’t know how to live and let live; what works for one doesn’t all ways work for another.  Each individual has his or her own personal reality to contend with; their own "consciousness".  When you see an over-zealous person using “religious” ideas to protest something politically, it is because it is a personal issue they are going through.  Their personal convictions are revealing them.  Some over-zealous people are drawn to politics because it’s a perfect place for them to overstep their boundaries and project personal beliefs onto everyone else.  A good politician is in the service of the people, not the other way around.

Nevertheless, state-sanctioned “religious” teachings have historically controlled people’s “moral” direction based upon whatever personal whim the politicians in power happened to be on.  6th of January originally celebrated the Sun’s “birth”.  The feast of the “three kings” was a reference to the "royalty" in an all ready ancient described astronomical event.  The “three kings” are the stars that appear in the Orion constellation’s “belt”.  They point to the instance where the Sun begins to grow strong and high again in its yearly cycle.

The actual feast of the Epiphany marked the most important moments during the mythical baptism of “Jesus”.  This was considered the time when "the sky opened up" and “revealed” itself as "God", the father of “Jesus” (and, basically,  everyone else).  This all-encompassing celebration included the lifespan of “Jesus” from “birth” until “baptism”.  It was, certainly, a period of incessant rejoicing.  Agriculture has all ways been a mainstay feature of civilisation, so the Sun would- of course- be held in high regards.  Ethiopians celebrate Timqat (Amharic for "baptism") on the 19th of January (or, on the 20th during a leap year).  This is the period when the “path” of “Jesus” to the “Cross” astronomically begins.  The primary event being commemorated was the actual “Baptism”, when the “Sun” was no longer busy being “born” and appeared fully out in the open, illuminating humanity.  Ancient liturgies noted the Illuminatio, Manifestatio and Declaratio (Illumination, Manifestation and Declaration) located in the “Christian gospels” of Matthew 3:13–17; Luke 3:22; and John 2:1–11.  The so-called "gospel" of Matthew, by the way, is the only "gospel" containing "religious" references about the Epiphany feast.  A “baptism” and a “marriage at Cana” were key events that hinted at a celebration of Epiphany actually occurring around the same time of the year.  The earliest reference to the Epiphany, as an actual “Christian” feast, was in 361 ACE by Ammianus Marcellinus.  St. Epiphanius of Salamis stated that the 6th of January was hemera genethlion toutestin epiphanion (Christ's "Birthday; that is, His Epiphany") and posits that the “miracle at Cana” where ‘water was turned into wine’ occurred on the same day.

The myth of the Magi (“wise men”) had them “paying homage” to “Jesus”.  These “wise men” followed a star, Sirius, in the East to locate the birth of the “Sun”.  This narrative, though astronomical in nature, explained to the world that it should all ways give honour to the "state", as the "state" ruled in the name of "Jesus" (or, any centralised prophet figure in a theocracy).  Bede the Venerable (672 ACE-735 ACE) of England would later describe these three “wise men” as being of different “races”; the three so-called “races” known at that time: European, Asian and African.

Around this same time of year, Herod the Great (King of Judea) – not realising that “Jesus” was a re-hashed myth about "Joseph" & numerous other anthropomorphised "ideas as prophets"- sought to locate the “Sun” in order to kill “him” and prevent "his Rise".  Saint John of Chrysostom identified the confused meeting between the Magi and Herod's court: "The star had been hidden from them so that, on finding themselves without their guide, they would have no alternative but to consult the Jews.  In this way, the birth of Jesus would be made known to all." According to John of Chrysostom, the calendrical day of the supposed birth of “Jesus” was thought to have occurred around the time of Herod’s slaughter of all the innocent children in Bethlehem and its vicinity under the age of two.  This mythical tale of a "born Saviour" and an act executed by a misled king became impressioned upon, and associated with, the Epiphany solar veneration celebrations.

In the original “Christian” solar dogma from Kush and Egypt, “three wise kings” journey to “witness” the “birth” of the “Sun”.  In Ibero-America, the feast of the Epiphany followed its old Roman template and tended to place more importance on the political aspect of the event than on its astronomical one.  The "feast of the kings" (El Día de los Reyes) instead became more about celebrating the "Crown" of Spain.  On its yearly liturgical calendar, “Christmas” would officially be celebrated twelve days earlier from the actual Epiphany event in order to replace the pagan winter solstice festival.  The homage initially paid to the Sun was politically re-directed toward the nobility in power.  This was duly noted in the Constitutiones Apostolorum; a "Christian" collection of eight treatises dated circa 380 ACE.  By the 12th century, actual historical commentators- like Dionysius bar-Salibi- stated outright that in ancient times the "Christmas" holiday was changed from the 6th of January to the 25th of December so that it coincided with the pagan "Sol Invictus" feast.

All though the Precession of the Equinoxes gradually turned Earth's northernmost latitudes away from the Crux constellation (dipping it below the European skyline by 400 ACE), its myth persevered politically in colonialist Europe's overseas provinces; specifically those in the southern hemisphere from where the Crux constellation is visible year round.  The "Great Seal of Brasil" features Crux.  The constellation is also prominently splayed across the Australian, New Zealander, Samoan & Papua New Guinean flags.

When speaking on the Australian national flag, poet Banjo Paterson wrote in 1893:

 The English flag may flutter and wave,
where the world wide oceans toss,
but, the flag the Australian dies to save,
is the flag of the Southern Cross.

Interesting to note is that with the disappearance of Crux from European skies, the guiding energy of Ancient Rome, came the "fall" of the actual Empire; after around 2 centuries of inexorable decline.  Plagues had decimated the population, leaving Rome without anyone to fight for her or contribute taxes.  Diocletian's inability to unite the Empire in 284 ACE left the government in shambles.  Split into two regions by Diocletian himself, the Roman Empire was re-unified by his successor, Theodosius I, until he died in 395 ACE.  The arrival of the Huns by 370 ACE and a series of defeats by the Visigoths (at Adrianople in 378 ACE & Rome in 410 ACE) signaled the end of their vast Mediterranean Empire.  Once the Visigoths established their Kingdom at Aquitania, it was only a matter of time.  All though the Eastern portion continued on for all most a thousand years, by 476 ACE both Rome as an "Empire" and the "Crux" were no more.

In “La Última Cena” organised “religion” appears in its most archaic and vulgar form: conquering the uneducated with mythology and making them believe that nothing else exists, but "what is written".  All this, plus suppress any dissent as punishable blasphemy.  Everything is promised to the masses in an imagined "afterlife" if the masses serve their masters, prophets and "liberators" whilst in this one.  More often than not, those using "religion" as politics do so to control people with less education than the political religionist.  And, more often than not, the political religionist is not very educated save for their narrow esoteric worldview of Reality.  Their intention is to suppress all rights to a personal education.  They discourage individual awareness and peer-review in others and limit known information to their own slanted mythological angle.  In order for them to maintain respect and sway, they cannot appear intellectually shallow.  But, the issue with Modern Science is that it moves us away from merely "believing" something just because someone else "said" so without any other proof save for his or her "holy scriptures".  It has to be rational.  Modern Science drives our curiosity towards solution seeking.  In order to maintain some sort of dominion over others, these political religionists must then find those who are even more ignorant and gullible than they are and hope that those individuals are desirous of being led somewhere by anyone because they may not want to be, or just are not, leader-type material.

When the “Overseer” woke the slaves up for work the next day, he refused to believe the Africans when they insisted that they were promised a day off for "the Lord" by the planter himself.  The slaves demanded that the planter appear and defend his word.  The planter instead felt that he had done enough apostolic work for "the Lord" and left the “Overseer” to do what he pleased.

This hypocrisy had been forewarned at the table by the rebel, “Sebastián”, who only chose to speak after the planter had passed out drunk at the table.  “Sebastián” used a Yorùbá proverb to explain to his brothers how "Olofi" ("God", or the "Sun at High Noon") created the world.  Amongst an assortment of necessary creations, "Olofi" brought forth "Truth" and "Lie".  "Truth" emerged looking beautiful and full of radiant health, but "Lie"- unfortunately- did not fare as well.  "Lie" came out looking ugly and infirmed.  "Olofi", feeling pity for "Lie", gave "Lie" a machete with which to defend itself.  As time passed on, everyone wanted to be around "Truth".  No one wanted to be with "Lie".  This made "Lie" very jealous.

One day, "Truth" and "Lie" had an altercation.  “Lie”, armed with its machete, proceeded to defend itself from "Truth""Lie" lopped off the head of "Truth" when "Truth" was not looking.  "Truth" then ran around without any eyes and without any head.  Throughout all this commotion, "Truth" still managed to bump into "Lie"In a fit of furious frenzy, "Truth" reached forward and ripped off "Lie's" head.  After placing "Lie's" head on its own shoulders, "Truth" then marched around everywhere fooling the masses into doing whatever it asked of them.

Soon after, the slaves were incited to revolt and burn down the sugar mill.  Specifically blamed were the twelve who had been present at the planter's “Last Supper”.  When the “Overseer” was killed in the revolt, the planter chased down eleven of the twelve slaves accused.  He had each of their heads placed upon a stake at the site of a new church to be constructed in the name of the slain “Overseer”“Sebastián”, the twelfth slave, escaped.

"Religion as Opium of the Masses (Marxism)" (6 minutes)

"Organised Religion & its Message of Poverty,
Weakness & Submission to an Imaginary Deity"

Dr. Stephen Hicks
Professor of Philosophy
Rockford College, Illinois

The director's focus on the "Jesus"-"Judas" interplay also set the stage to have another sub-story told: that of "Jesus" and "Sango" as life-saving Deities.  "Jesus" is the "Sun", humanity's practical bringer of everyday life, and "Sango" is the "Thunderstorm", the practical bringer of everyday life for the Yorùbá.  This interplay described a character study using myths that were both initiated from a common source, but had diverged distinctly in two social directions since their common inception.  All though “Sebastián” played the catalytic "Judas" character, he and the planter were similar in that they each carried out a life-saving function for their own respective communities.

Both "Jesus" and the planter were characters representing Kings accused because of the words they preached. "Jesus" explained the beginning of the Age of "Pisces" (6 BCE-2012 ACE; when Saturn- a planet assigned by ancient "philosopher-kings" to represent the followers of "Judaism"- and Jupiter- the planet of "kingship"- formed a triple conjunction in the sky; as per our geocentric perspective).  "Christianity" and "Islam", two mythological systems centered around a main prophet character, came about as the esoteric way to explain the period which would last until humanity finally entered the "Age" of the "man bearing the pitcher of water": "Aquarius"- the Age of Technology and Science.

The planter was accused of not keeping his word to his enslaved African servants.   Nevertheless, though he was the intended victim of the accusation, "victim status" defaulted to his own "Overseer".  The culminating crucifixion is then carried out with the planter's servant taking his place in the profusely-promised "afterlife".  This punctuated the planter's storyline with the hypocrisy of not believing enough in his own "afterlife" to go there himself.

A popular take on the "Sango" myth explained the life of a mythical 4th King of the Yorùbá.  The social aspect of the myth was that the leader was a tyrant accused of bullying two brothers; causing one to kill the other and, because of this, sentenced to death by his people.  The actual cosmic event this was initially meant to portray was the life-cycle of a thunderstorm, a necessary function in the daily life of a rainforest-centered people.  Without the rains, there would be no crops and, ergo, no civilisation aggregated around them. The original Sky deity was called: "Takata" or "Jakuta", the 'stone-thrower'.   Like the solar "Jesus" myth, "Takata"-"Jakuta" was a culture-specific idea- somewhat anthropomorphised- to explain celestial occurrences in a moralising language that could easily be understood.  Viewed from this angle, two exact myths regarding important daily life events are compared and contrasted; albeit underneath two very distinct cultural guises.

In post-Maafa Caribbean and South America, the story evolved- yet again- to fit a new worldview for African people.  This time "Sango" (Chango, Xango, Shango) was the resilient slave who led his people to freedom with his "kingship" vision.  Given that ceremonies bestowing initiation to the mysteries of "Sango" are the most complete to reach Western shores, this chance event helped shape African cultural patterns in the Americas; for those Yorùbá who introduced these folkways in the latter half of the 19th Century and for those influenced by their cosmopolitan cultural contributions.  "Sango" was the Deity that, all though very wise, held court with a "kingship" style.  Much of African culture in the Americas is centered around "Sango" social politics: leadership, wisdom, entertainment and love.  All though the myth was just another representational aspect of a total pantheon of Deities representing a Yorùbá cultural worldview, the importance of "Sango" to transplanted African people was an underscore to the tremendous amount of energy needed to withstand the harsh reality of long-term social enslavement, both physical and mental.


slideshow scene from “La Última Cena” (The Last Supper)

Overall, the dramatic structure Gutiérrez-Álea chose to unfold revealed how Spanish plantation owners twisted "religious" esoteric doctrine in order to keep African and Indigenous people in a subservient position for centuries.  With the exhibition of this film in Cuba, it cemented the idea that "religion" can be manipulating.  It stated to Cubans that the ideals and politics of Marxism, which tend to move one towards atheism, are more enlightening than "religion" though it allowed its use on a personal level.

"Religion as Opium of the Masses (Marxism)" (6 minutes)

"The Feudal Economy & Organised Religion"

Dr. Stephen Hicks
Professor of Philosophy
Rockford College, Illinois

Sources Consulted Include:

Verger, Pierre.  Dieux de Afrique. (1954)

Johnson, Samuel.  The History of the Yorùbá.  London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. (1937)

Lucas, Olomide J.  Religion of the Yorùbá.  Lagos, Nigeria  CMS Bookshop. (1948)

Cabrera, Lydia.  El Monte.  La Habana, Cuba (1954)

Welch, David B.  Voice of Thunder, Eyes of Fire: In Search of Shango in the African Diaspora.  Pittburgh: Dorrance Publishing Co.  (2001)

Law, Robin. The Oyo Empire (c.1600-1836): a West African Imperialism in the Era of the Atlantic Slave Trade  London, England.  Oxford University Press. (1977)

Brandon, George.  Santeria: from Africa to the New World (The Dead Sell Memories)  Bloomington & Indianapolis.  Indiana University Press. (1993)

SoulChango Ink, 2004
WGA-East Registered


*** BACKGROUND: yoruba2573 ***


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