HISTORY OF THE YORUBA RELIGION
The yoruba religion has its origins in the tribe Yoruba in West Africa. The Yoruba were living in what is today known as Nigeria, along the Niger River. There was a time that had a powerful and complex structure is organised into a number of kingdoms, of which the most important was Benin, and this lasted for 12 centuries until the 1896. Their point of reference is the sacred city of Ife. At the end of the eighteenth century and early nineteenth, Yoruba people fought a series of wars with their neighbors and among themselves. This internal fight and external attacks led to the fall and enslavement of the Yoruba people.
Between 1820 and 1840, the majority of the slaves sent from Benin to Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, Trinidad and Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, among other places, were Yoruba. These slaves were brought to work on sugar plantations, but along with the bodies that were brought in to sell them to a life of misery, brought something else: their soul, and religion. The Yoruba were soon called the lucumi, due to their greeting "oluku mi", "my friend".
Spanish law, at the same time that allowed slavery, tried to lessen this injustice by granting some rights, at least in theory the slaves. They had the right to private property, marriage and personal safety. Laws also demanded that the slaves were baptized Catholics as condition of their legal entry to Las Indias. The church tried to evangelize the black lucumi but the conditions were very difficult. In addition to the shortage of priests, the condition of slavery hindered the lucumi understood and accepted what is taught about God. The result was that many accepted outside the Catholic teachings while internally maintaining their ancient religion.
In the new world, the Orishas (emissaries of God Olodumare) and most of their religion was hidden behind the face of Catholicism, through which the Orishas were represented by several Catholic Saints. The owners of slaves in this way said: "look how blessed is this slave. Moves all the time venerating Santa Barbara". What they ignore is that the slaves was actually praying to Shango, the Lord of lightning, fire and dance, and that even perhaps he prayed him that it the hook of the same owner. This is how the religion came to be known as Santeria.
The Saints who took to identify them with the orishas were the best known in the Church in Cuba.
The Blessed Virgin in different invocations is also identified with an orisha as if it were one more santo. The identification often has to do with the clothes or the reasons why the Saint or Virgin is known.
So Santa Barbara, dressed in red and with sword in the Catholic images, is identified with the great warrior Chango who is credited with the force. According to Santeria, the life of each person is supervised by a Santo (orisha) who takes an active part in their daily lives.
On the feast of the santo, the person, must attend mass and ceremonies of this orisha. With the Communist revolution, which triumphed in Cuba in 1959, more than one million Cubans exiled in the U.S. (primarily in Miami, New York and Los Angeles) and other countries. Among them were santeros who spread the Santeria in their new environments.
-Book: Los Orishas in Cuba, Natalia Bolvar.