When I was writing the blog article about Historic Orisha Illustration a few months ago, I stumbled across an interesting detail. The books published by the CMS, the Church Mission Society, give insights on the colonization of Yorùbáland in the 19th century from the missionaries’ point of view. Most of them have been digitalized and are available online today. One book, published in 1853, is written by “Miss Tucker”: Abbeokuta; Sunrise within the Tropics: An Outline of the Origin and Progress of the Yoruba Mission.

Chapter XVI tells the story of John Baptist Dasalu, an Ẹ̀gbá-Yorùbá Christian who was sold into slavery after the Dahomean army attacked the town of Abẹ́òkuta in 1851. It is a short chapter and ends after a few pages, when Dasalu’s traces are lost at the slave port of Wydah (Ouidah, Benin Republic). But a few years later the book was published in German language in an expanded version, entitled “Abbeokuta; Sonnenaufgang zwischen den Wendekreisen”. Here the story of Dasalu continues: he was shipped to Cuba, became a Lukumí freed slave, sent a letter back home with returnees and was rescued by his Christian allies from Yorùbá-land. He returned to Africa. Fascinating story? That’s what I thought! I started to look out for more information. In the Church Missionary Intelligencer from 1856 I finally found these parts also in English language.
 

View from Olúmo Rock, Abẹ́òkúta, 19th century and today. Drawing by the CMS, Public Domain. Photo by Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, read about "Abẹ́òkúta's living history" on the blog www.ktravula.com

View from Olúmo Rock, Abẹ́òkúta, 19th century and today. Drawing by the CMS, Public Domain. Photo by Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, read about "Abẹ́òkúta's living history" on the blog www.ktravula.com

Dasalu`s story was published in several books, it was the perfect propaganda for the missions. First, they had to convince the African population that only through Jesus Christ their lives and souls could be saved. Dasalu, who was declared dead, was freed from slavery and “resurrected”. Second, travel reports were a popular literary genre and probably helped to raise money. Title image is a book cover of a German version dedicated to the “chief’s Christian son Dasalu”, printed around 1950. It’s a good story that can be told on many different levels, the Christian one being the less interesting.

I found a great academic article about Dasalu written by Olatunji Ojo, “Amazing struggle: Dasalu, global Yoruba networks and the fight against slavery, 1851-1856” (Atlantic Studies, 2015). It is one of the most fascinating articles I have ever read! Olatunji Ojo provides background information on the slave-trading societies, the Yorùbá wars, the life in Cuba, the “emancipados”, changing Lukumí and Yorùbá identities and trans-Atlantic networks that exist(ed). The scholar reconstructed Dasalu’s life comparing the CMS publications with many other historical sources, like British Consular Records from Havana, and he found out amazing details! I summarize Dasalu’s story here using the CMS versions quoted above, the historical facts and interpretations reflect the opinion of the original publishers. For more details and to get contemporary data I recommend reading Olatunji Ojo’s article. Also I want to mention the book “Fighting Slavery in the Caribbean: Life and Times of a British Family in Nineteenth Century Havana” by Luis Martinez-Fernandez, who provides a few details on Dasalu’s story upon his arrival on the island which I quote below.
 

Olúmo Rock in Abẹ́òkúta, illustration from a CMS publication, around 1850. Image Public Domain. 

Olúmo Rock in Abẹ́òkúta, illustration from a CMS publication, around 1850. Image Public Domain. 

One hardly ever reads about the role of the enslaved Yorùbá Christians or Muslims in discussions about Lukumí traditions in Cuba. I use Dasalu’s story to extend this article a bit, below you can read a Lukumí version of the Lord’s Prayer, written by Andrés Monzón in 1878. He was educated in a Christian mission in Nigeria and became a “famous Olórìṣà”, writes Lydia Cabrera in her book "Anagó". Maybe it was through people like him, that West African oral literature became a written source of history in the colonies. Literacy saved the life of Dasalu in Cuba, as you will read. Furthermore, the Lord’s Prayer and the Ave Maria are sources where Christian Yorùbá language (adopted to the monotheistic idea) can be directly compared with written Lukumí. Dasalu’s story also opens up a chapter that is not yet well researched in Cuba, compared to Brazil. It tells us about the Àgùdà, the Cuban freed slaves, “emancipados” or freeborn Creoles, who moved back to the coastal towns of the bight of Benin in the 19th century and played a major role in the urban society.
 

Spanish colonial kitchen, Cuba, 1895. Found in the Cuban Photograph Collection by the University of Miami Libraries. Image Public Domain.

Spanish colonial kitchen, Cuba, 1895. Found in the Cuban Photograph Collection by the University of Miami Libraries. Image Public Domain.

Compare our Orisha Image blog articles “Àgùdà Families: Returned Freedmen from Brazil”, an interview with Lisa Earl Castillo from Brazil with amazing documents and the latest research by an Àgùdà expert, and my – rather improvised – Lagos photostory "The 19th Century Yorùbá Repatriation".
 

The CMS publications contain many beautiful illustrations from missionary life in Yorùbá-land. Usually they were produced by artists in Europe, based on the descriptions of the missionaries. Image Public Domain. 

The CMS publications contain many beautiful illustrations from missionary life in Yorùbá-land. Usually they were produced by artists in Europe, based on the descriptions of the missionaries. Image Public Domain. 

The story of Dasalu=John Baptist=Ogan=Nicolas Lucumí=Juan Bautista

Dasalu was a slave trader living in Abẹ́òkúta. In the ongoing wars between the Yorùbá kingdoms many Ẹ̀gbá villages were destroyed and people fled to the area near Olúmo Rock, which provided protection and refuge in times of war. Liberated slaves from the Yorùbá diaspora in Sierra Leone returned to their homeland around 1839 to settle in this new town called “Under the Rock” – Abẹ́òkúta. Soon missionaries followed, among them three men from the Church Mission Society (CMS) that would play an important role in Dasalu’s life and the history of the Yorùbá people: Gollmer, Townsend and Crowther. Dasalu converted to Christianity in 1848 and chose the name John Baptist. He left one of his wives “who stayed pagan” and officially married the other one, who was given the name Martha. Polygamist men were not baptized, contrary to the women who were the “involuntary victims of this custom”. John Baptist Dasalu quit slave trade and changed to a “honest business”, that made less money, selling food to the markets in Lagos. This was a severe economic change, as slaves could be exchanged for imported products like tobacco, rum, sugar or “English ironware” from (often Portuguese) slave-traders.
 

A Yorùbá chief in a typical hand-woven Yorùbá cloth, possibly as the artist imagined it to look-like. CMS Illustration, image Public Domain. 

A Yorùbá chief in a typical hand-woven Yorùbá cloth, possibly as the artist imagined it to look-like. CMS Illustration, image Public Domain. 

Dasalu’s father was a local chief and died, but his son refused to follow in his footsteps to avoid contact with pagan Òrìṣà rituals. Dasalu must have come from an important family, because he was “forced by the community” to become a member of the Ògbóni secret council. Even when the riots broke out between Christians and Olórìṣà in Abẹ́òkúta in 1849, it is mentioned that Dasalu was spared due to the respect towards his “powerful family”. The Ẹ̀gbá townships did not have a central king or ruler, the closest they got was the warrior Sódẹkẹ́, who died in 1844. Abẹ́òkúta was led politically by the Ògbóni cults of elders from the large four main Ègbá subgroups, Dasalu might have had good contacts to the political elite of the town. (see Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún’s blog article "Abẹ́òkuta’s Living History").

 

A colored postcard showing female Dahomey war veterans, the "Amazons", 1918. Source: Wikipedia. Image Public Domain. 

A colored postcard showing female Dahomey war veterans, the "Amazons", 1918. Source: Wikipedia. Image Public Domain. 

In 1851 King Gezo from Dahomey attacked Abẹ́òkúta with his army of around 16.000 people, among them thousands of feared female fighters, who became known as the so-called “Dahomey Amazons” in European narratives. Gezo did not succeed. The Ẹ̀gbá were prepared and had help from the king of Lagos. Hundreds were killed and captured and Dasalu got lost on the battlefield. After the end of the fights his brother searched for him and found many decapitated corpses. He thought one of them was Dasalu and brought the tragic news to Dasalu’s wife. In reality, her husband was taken to King Gezo’s palace and imprisoned. “He attributes his preservation to an English shirt worn by him when he was taken prisoner […] what led to interrogations as to his connection with the white men.” As a friend of the Europeans his life could have been worth a lot of money for the king.
 

This was the way how Dasalu was fixed on the ground at night, during his first weeks as a slave at the palace of King Gezo in Dahomey. CMS illustration, image Public Domain. 

This was the way how Dasalu was fixed on the ground at night, during his first weeks as a slave at the palace of King Gezo in Dahomey. CMS illustration, image Public Domain. 

Six months after the attack some Ẹ̀gbá captives made it back home from Dahomey. They were ransomed by their families after Rev. Crowther heard from them on his journey to England via Badagry. They told the missionaries that Dasalu is still alive. His wife Martha, meanwhile kicked out of the house through her bother-in-law (who did not like “book-people”) seeked assistance from missionary Gollmer. The missionary knew someone who negotiated with King Gezo. The slave Dasalu was then sent from the palace to a slave trader in Ouidah, where he was kept to be released after the ransom was paid. Gollmer tried to find him there several times, but failed. In captivity John Baptist Dasalu became known under the name “Ogan” (from Gùn-Gbè language "ògán") which means “supporter or prominent adherent of a cultic society”. Possibly he was called by this name in a mocking way because of his Western missionary attire when he was captured. Compare the article "The etymology of ogan proves the Gún-gbé origin of Candomblé Jeje" by Victor Manfredi.
 

An image that should illustrate animal sacrifice as carried out by the Yorùbá people. CMS illustration, image Public Domain. 

An image that should illustrate animal sacrifice as carried out by the Yorùbá people. CMS illustration, image Public Domain. 

While being kept at Ouidah, Dasalu was able to send two “letters in African style” to his wife, a pre-literate genre to send messages over long distances, known in Yorùbá language as "arókò". One consisted of a stone, a piece of charcoal, a pepper-pod (ataare?), a grain of roasted corn, all wrapped up in a piece of rag. It was interpreted as follows: “he was as strong as a stone, but his prospects were dark as charcoal, he was so feverish with anxiety that his skin was as hot as pepper, and corn might be parched upon it, and that his clothing was nothing but a rag.” After three years of waiting to be released out of slavery, his owner finally sold him and in 1854 he was shipped to Cuba. Because of the Crimean War Britain needed its ships and reduced the anti-slavery patrols on the West African coast: slave trade increased again. Dasalu – after being branded with a key on his right breast - went through what for most slaves was the "point of no return".

More than one year later, in 1855, a ship from Havana brought 48 “emancipados”, or “free negroes”, men, women and children, to Plymouth. England. They were Cuban Lukumí on their way to Lagos, but ran out of money during the journey. One of them had spent 28 years in Cuba, others were much younger and hoped to re-unite with their families, after they had heard of them from new imported Yorùbá people. At that time liberated slaves or free-born descendants of Africans regularly repatriated from the diaspora to the bight of Benin, much more coming from Brazil than from Cuba (compare our article "Àgùdà Families"). “The Cubans were still pagans and did not receive Christian education”, is written in the German version of the CMS book. Possibly, this was a group of Olórìṣà. They spoke Spanish with a strong accent and needed an interpreter. By chance the missionary Townsend, who spoke Yorùbá, was in London and came to help. The group was happy and recognized him as someone they had heard about in Havana. They had a letter with them written in Creole Spanish: “ge no me es mueto toabia Gracia al dios” (that I am not yet dead thank God). The letter came from an “emancipado” in Havana, called Nicolas Lucumí, also called Juan Bautista  – John Baptist Dasalu’s new identity in the Caribbean colony! Check out Olatunji Ojo’s article. He found the complete letter in the archives of the British consulate and transcribed it, an amazing document. Dated June 16, 1855, the letter was written by another Cuban African named “Garro, in the residence of the Count of Fernandina, one of the island’s wealthiest men and recipient of scores of emancipados.” (Luis Martinez-Fernandez). Two months later the letter landed with the Lukumí group via London in Lagos.

Samuel Crowther guaranteed that he personally (!) would pay for the passage of Dasalu, if the British Consul in Havana could only locate him. With the records from the Anglo-Spanish slave commission and the Spanish Captain General, after months of intense research, Dasalu was found in Havana. After an absence of more than five years and more than one year in Cuba, he could travel back to his wife in Abẹ́òkúta, “to the astonishment and joy of the people. For years afterwards, no story was more often told at missionary meetings.”
 

Street view in Havana's city center, today called "La Habana Vieja", Calle Vives, 1899. Found in the Cuban Photograph Collection by the University of Miami Libraries. Image Public Domain.

Street view in Havana's city center, today called "La Habana Vieja", Calle Vives, 1899. Found in the Cuban Photograph Collection by the University of Miami Libraries. Image Public Domain.

Dasalu told many details from the middle-passage in the slave-ship to the missionaries, which were published in the 1856 CMS Intelligencer, a kind of “best-of” annual publication with reports from the CMS missions worldwide. He was shipped together with around 630 other slaves. Men were stowed below, woman on deck and around eighty children were consigned to the boats on the sides of the ship. They did not get anything to eat for the first three days, later they got three biscuits a day, water and sometimes “farina” (Portuguese farinha, flour), rice or beans. One Ìjẹ̀ṣà woman got sick and was thrown overboard alive. There was a conspiracy among the Africans to kill the crew and take possession of the vessel. Dasalu convinced them to drop their plan, not to put the lives of women and children in danger. The propaganda says: “Blessed element of gospel truth […] with words of gentleness and peace soothes the heart in its disturbance […] Christianity is the great sedative.”
 

Street view from the market in Santiago de Cuba, 1898. Found in the Cuban Photograph Collection by the University of Miami Libraries. Image Public Domain. 

Street view from the market in Santiago de Cuba, 1898. Found in the Cuban Photograph Collection by the University of Miami Libraries. Image Public Domain. 

When they approached Cuba, the slave-ship was met by a steamer and instructed to avoid Havana. They landed at a place called “Aliheni” near a sugar plantation. A Spanish ship of war, “cruising according to the engagements of solemn treaties with England, for the suppression of the slave trade”, permitted the slave-traders to disembark the Africans for twenty days there. Then 180 of them were put again on board and carried to the capital’s harbour. These people, less than one third of the original number, became registered as so-called “emancipados”. Amongst them was John Baptist Dasalu, who was given the name “Nicolas Lucumí” upon his arrival. Lucumí/Lukumí was the name used for Yorùbá people in Cuba. “Emancipados” were liberated Africans from condemned ships in the times of the abolition of slave trade. They were rented out to private or public employers by the Mixed Commission Court in a contract that should provide them Christian education, professional training and freedom after some years. This should cover the costs of their maintenance. Often they were treated worse than slaves, who were long-term property or had an established relationship with the family members of their owners. In addition, the “emancipados” were denied access to self-redemption or redemption by third parties (see Olatunji Ojo: “The Slave Ship Manuelita and the Story of a Yoruba Community, 1833-1834”). When Dasalu arrived in Havana “free Blacks formed 83% of the black population in Havana, 16% of Cuban population and 91% of its urban labour force” (Martinez-Fernandez, Fighting Slavery, p.20).
 

Large and detailed political articles were published about slavery in Cuba by the CMS around 1856 to 1857. Here the Church Missionary Intelligencer, 1857. Image public domain. 

Large and detailed political articles were published about slavery in Cuba by the CMS around 1856 to 1857. Here the Church Missionary Intelligencer, 1857. Image public domain. 

The CMS Intelligencer speaks of 7673 slaves imported in Cuba in 1854, including the unreported landings this number rises to 10.230 people: “a number not so large as that of 1853.” Who wants to compare this number with more official figures check the website “Voyage - The Trans-Atlantic Slave-Trade Database”. The British Consul-General Crawford in Havana complained about the Spanish authorities that “all the slaves that are brought to the coast of Cuba continue to be landed.” As the British anti-slavery patrols on the African coast were weak in those years, experienced slave-traders found ways to get American vessels as carriers and continued their operations. The British Ambassador reported to the Spanish government at the court of Madrid “that the number of slaves employed upon the estates of Cuba have been kept up; many new sugar-plantations have been formed and supplied with African labourers […]” and that the Cuban authorities “have failed remarkably in producing any beneficial effect toward the suppression of the slave-trade.” To the “international embarrassment” of Spanish authorities the CMS published large political chapters in their reports on the slavery in Cuba.
 

Urban work, the "water boys", the "aguadores", of Havana, 1900. Found in the Cuban Photograph Collection by the University of Miami Libraries. Image Public Domain. 

Urban work, the "water boys", the "aguadores", of Havana, 1900. Found in the Cuban Photograph Collection by the University of Miami Libraries. Image Public Domain. 

Unfortunately, there is not more information in the CMS yearbooks about Dasalu’s life in Havana or his life as a returnee in Yorùbáland. Olatunji Ojo could find many interesting details though, in an intense research using Cuban documents and reports from the CMS archive. Just one of these details I want to mention here to close this chapter. A detail, that is spared in all the official Christian missionary stories: in 1860 John Baptist Dasalu was excommunicated, when he married a second wife.
 

"The Cathedral of St. Peter at Ake, Abeokuta, is the oldest church in Abeokuta and – due to the proximity of the town to the Atlantic Ocean and the coming of the first missionaries – the oldest church in all of Nigeria." © Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, read the full story on www.ktravula.com

"The Cathedral of St. Peter at Ake, Abeokuta, is the oldest church in Abeokuta and – due to the proximity of the town to the Atlantic Ocean and the coming of the first missionaries – the oldest church in all of Nigeria." © Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, read the full story on www.ktravula.com

This is a short sketch of what Olatunji Ojo describes as the “Yoruba global network” in his highly recommended article "Amazing Struggle" as the case of the first slave that has ever been searched for by government officials to enable a save return to the homeland. The story of John Baptist Dasalu, the Christian Yorùbá - Lukumí in Havana, reminded me on translations I found in several books a while ago. Manuscripts are an important part of the Afro-Cuban history, especially for Òrìṣà related topics, as some of them are said to have been written many decades ago. I would like to read more about the transition from oral literature to written literature among the Olórìṣà in the diaspora, as these books are so important for ceremonies or Ifá divination today! It is incredible how many different documents on Cuban Santería and Orichas exist, online at platforms like scribd, sold as pdf on WhatsApp or in hard copies at Botánicas. A version of the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary was written by another Lukumí, who was educated by missionaries in Yorùbáland: Andrés Monzón. I include the versions from Cuban Lukumí books and the official contemporary Yorùbá version of the prayers here to compare, also see the Orisha Image article “The Incomplete Yorùbá Guide to Lukumí” on our blog. Dasalu's touching story is a unique example for the horror of slavery and how African people struggled to survive asa individuals and maintain their cultural identity in a life-threatening racist society. Ìbà'ẹ́!
 

Along the docks of the Havana harbour, 1899. Found in the Cuban Photograph Collection by the University of Miami Libraries. Image Public Domain.

Along the docks of the Havana harbour, 1899. Found in the Cuban Photograph Collection by the University of Miami Libraries. Image Public Domain.

The Lord's Prayer

1) Lukumi, 1887, Havana: Babá gbá tin nbé lorún, ogbó loruko, iyo Oba re de, ifé tire ni kaeké layé, bi tin nché lorún, fun gbá lonyé ayo gbá loni, dari eche gba yingba, biatin ndari eche yin eiguí aferawó la oche aferawó elukulu.

2) "Yorùbá", 1869, London: Baba wa ti mbẹ li orun, `Ọwọ li orukọ rẹ. Ijọba rẹ dé; Ifẹ ti rẹ ni ki aṣe, bi ti ọrun, bẽ ni li aiye. Fun wa li onjẹ́ ọjọ wa li oni. Dari gbese wa jì wa, bi awa ti ndariji awọn onigbese wa. Ki o ma si fa wa sinọ idẹwò, ṣugbọn gbà wa ninọ tulasin. Nitori ijọba ni ti rẹ, ati agbara, ati ogọ, lailai. Amin. 

3) Lukumí, 2010, Havana: Babawa ki nile tonu, Owo li Oruro, Icholbore iwofe. Tire iwo acheli monique ni, aiyé lawó nimú ni tonú, Akara awá olukuluku, ayó ofí yoldi, Atí afara awá dariví, Atí ko wa elbá chulgú ni yekú, Sugbon itú ofoldá. Amín

Provided Translation: Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos, santificado sea tu nombre, Vengános tu Reino, hágase tu voluntad, así en la tierra como en el cielo. El pan nuestro de cada día, dánoslo hoy, y perdona nuestras deudas. No nos dejes caer en la tentación, más líbranos del mal. Amén. 

4) Yorùbá, contemporary: Baba wa tí nbẹ ní ọ̀run, Ká bọ̀wọ̀ fún orúkọ rẹ, Kí ìjọba rẹ́ dé, Ìfẹ́ tìrẹ ni ká ṣe láíyé, Bí wọ́n ti nṣẹ ní ọ̀run, Fún wa lóúnjẹ òòjọ́ wa lónìí, Dárí ẹ̀ṣẹ̀ wa jìn wá, Bí a ti ndárí jin àwọn tí ó ṣẹ̀ wá, Má fà wá sínú ìdánwò, Ṣùgbọ́n gbà wá lọ́wọ́ bìlísì. (Nitori ijọba ni tirẹ, ati agbara, ati ogo, lailai.) Àmín. 

Translation: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.). Amen. 

Sources: 

1) Padre Nuestro (Lydia Cabrera: Anagó. Vocabulario Lucumi. Tercera edición, Ediciones Universal, Miami, 2007, p.17) After Andrés Monzón, free African in Cuba, 1887

Lydia Cabrera quotes this prayer from the manuscript of Andrés Monzón, a free African who was taught to read and write in a “church mission in Nigeria”. His Christian prayer resembles what is still known as the Lord’s Prayer in Yorùbá language today. But instead of Yorùbá it follows the Spanish language pronunciation rules, that’s the interesting part of it. Compare it with the original written prayer in Yorùbá language below. “Gb” is often used for “w”, “y” replaces the “j”, “ch” the dotted “ṣ”, etc. Though Cabrera quotes his Christian prayers, she does not forget to mention that Andrés Monzón was known as a “gran olórisa”, a famous Olórìṣà on the island. The fascinating point is that this Cuban Lukumí prayer (and the Hail Mary below) was written by someone who was still fluent in Yorùbá language. 

2) Yoruba Lord’s Prayer, Version from S.Apostolides, “Our lord’s prayer in one hundred different languages”, London, 1869. This is an old and rudimentary Yorùbá version of the prayer, that is different to the contemporary official version. One can only speculate if this version ever was in use somewhere or if it was just translated for this special publication.  

3) Padrenuestro, Lukumí version, from: Mario Michelena y Rubén Marrero: Diccionario de Términos Yoruba, Prana, Mexico, Miami, Buenos Aires, 2010, p. 112. Although the book was published outside of Cuba, the authors are from Havana. They do not quote a source. Interesting points are that “iwo“ is often used exactly where in Spanish would be a “tu“ (you). In general, the Lukumí version follows the Spanish order of the words. This speaks for a word-to-word lexical translation from Spanish into Lukumí. Also, the pronoun “iwo” is used where the possesive pronoun “re” alone would make sense. “Akara“, a kind of fried bean (flour) paste, is a daily Yorùbá staple (like Western bread, in a sense) and was in use e.g. for warriors on the march. In the official Lord’s prayer in Yorùbá language “bread” is translated as “ounje“, food. In Lukumí dictionaries “akara” is listed as “pan” (bread). Other expressions, like “libranos del mal” as “itu ofo”, maybe a “relief from loss”, is kind of poetic, if this re-translation makes any sense. “Olukuluku” is a term not listed in Lukumí dictionaries I know, while still being 100% Yorùbá language. It can be found in the English-Yorùbá dictionary published by the CMS in 1913. Also the Lukumí “afara”, what I first thought comes from Yorùbá “àfara”, “indolence, laziness” is translated in Lukumí dictionaries as “disculpandose con el Santo en los rezos, esta palabra quiere decir perdóname”, maybe from “àfarafún”, “to surrender”. The "yeku" could even point to "Oyekun". All together, this is a very special hybrid Lukumí version of the Lord’s Prayer. 

4) Àdúrà Olúwa in the contemporary Yorùbá version (some diacritic marks are missing, it is still the best version I found online) and the current Lord’s Prayer, Catholic and  Episcopal version, Luke 11:2-4. Note: in brackets is the 1928 Episcopal BCP/Catholic add.
 

A view every tourist knows: Calle Obispo in La Habana Vieja. The shopping street today for tourists and place to sip a Mojito, before heading back to Varadero with your guáguá, the hand-colored photo is from 1900. Cuban Photograph Collection by the University of Miami Libraries. Image Public Domain.

A view every tourist knows: Calle Obispo in La Habana Vieja. The shopping street today for tourists and place to sip a Mojito, before heading back to Varadero with your guáguá, the hand-colored photo is from 1900. Cuban Photograph Collection by the University of Miami Libraries. Image Public Domain.

Ave Maria/Hail Mary 

1) Lukumí, before 1970: Mokio Maria, Okún fun oré, Olugba enbe pelure, Alabukún nifún igbo, Ni nu agbón obiri, Alabukún nifún eso inú re.

Provided translation: Salve Maria, llena eres de gracia, el Señor es contigo, bendita eres, entre todas las mujeres, y bendito sea el fruto de tu vientre Jesus. 

2) Lukumí, 1887: Mokio Maria, okún fún oré ofé, Olugba nbe pelure, alabukún nifún igbo ninu agbón obirin.

3) Lukumí, 2010: Olofi tiguó olgüé María, Kun nu modigüé, Mori ni pelure, Albusimí iwó ni larín bowo olbini, Atí alubusimí ni eso iwó kin Jesús, Mimo María, iyá Olofi, Ebecelbe tori wa aitito, Ibán, atí ni akoko ni wa ikú, Amín.

Provided translation: Dios te salve, Maria, llena eres de gracia, el Señor es contigo, bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres, y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre Jesús.Santa María, madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros, los pecadores, ahora, y en la hora de nuestra muerte. Amén. 

4) Yorùbá, contemporary: Mo kí ọ Màríà, O kún fún oore ọ̀fẹ́, Olúwa ḿbẹ pẹ̀lú rẹ, alábùkúnfún ni ìwọ nínu àwọn obìnrin, alábùkúnfún sì ni èso inú rẹ Jésù. Màríà mímọ́, ìyá Ọlọ́run, gbàdúrà fún wá àwa òtòṣí ẹlẹ́ṣẹ̀, níìsisìnyí, àti l'ákókò ikú wa. Àmín. 

Translation: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed art you among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Sources: 

1) Lydia Cabrera: Anagó. Vocabulario Lucumi. Tercera edición, Ediciones Universal, Miami, 2007, p.212. The first edition was published in 1970, so I guess the prayer predates this year. 

2) Lydia Cabrera: Anagó. Vocabulario Lucumi. Tercera edición, Ediciones Universal, Miami, 2007, p.213. After Andrés Monzón, free African, who wrote it in 1878.

3) Mario Michelena y Rubén Marrero: Diccionario de Términos Yoruba, Prana, Mexico, Miami, Buenos Aires, 2010, p. 113. Here it is easy to decipher that this version was developed completely  in the Cuban diaspora. Ólófin (“the law-giver”) is one of the common names in Cuba for God Almighty. While “Hail Mary” is translated with “Mo kí o Maria” (I greet you, Maria), the Lukumí follows the Spanish version in the sense of “God saves you, Maria”, "Olófin tí ìwọ yíóò gbè". The Yorùbá phrase “mo dúpẹ́”, literally “I am thankful” can be found in Lukumí dictionaries translated more general as “gracias” (thank you). “Modigüe” could be deciphered as this phrase in another spelling and is used like a noun for “gracia” (grace). I speculate that someone used dictionaries to translate the Spanish prayer into Lukumí. Though there remain some fragments which make me wonder, like “aláìlótítọ́” (one who is not truthful) used for the word “sinner” and “àbùsí mi”, “my blessing”, which are unusual. Maybe the author had some knowledge on Yorùbá vocabulary, but not grammar. Also interesting that the versions from this recent “diccionario” do not correlate at all with the “Padre Nuestro” and “Ave María” published in Lydia Cabrera’s book “Anagó” in 1970, that fluctuates on the island.

4) As it was impossible to find a grammatically correct version of the prayer online, I got help from Yorùbá Linguist Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, who runs the website yorubaname.com. The offered translation is from Wikipedia's English version of Hail Mary

 

On the names Dasalu and Desalu

There is another well-known Yorùbá man from Abẹ́òkuta with a similar name. He is mentioned as Andrew Wilhelm in the CMS books and is today known as Andrew Desalu Wilhelm. He was the translator of Henry Townsend and a returnee educated in Sierra Leone, he played an important role in the evangelization of Yorùbá-land. In Samuel Johnson’s “The History of the Yorubas“ his name is written “Dasalu” in the index, not “Desalu”, what might be a typing error. Olatunji Ojo also writes his name “Andrew Wilhelm Dasalu”, equal to "John Baptist Dasalu", and mentions "not any relation". Searching for the meaning of the Yorùbá name “Dasalu” I looked up the name at the yorubaname.com  website and found the entry “Désálù” in its database. It was a name given to a family of royal crown protectors who fled the town (sá ní ìlú) during an invasion in a prominent war to keep the crown save. This period of flight is what influenced a change of name to Désálù. The name meant Adé sá (ní) ìlú i.e. the crown fled the town. Maybe – this is speculation – "our" Dasalu, pronounced by an English native speaker, was the same name as Désálù? Anyhow, if you read about the missions in Yorùbáland, keep in mind there are two Dasalu, or one Dasalu and another Desalu. 

 

Resources and Links: 

Olatunji Ojo: Amazing struggle: Dasalu, global Yoruba networks, and the fight against slavery, 1851–1856

Olatunji Ojo: The Slave Ship Manuelita and the Story of a Yoruba Community, 1833-1834

Kola Tubosun’s blog www.ktravula.com and his project www.yorubaname.com

Miss Tucker: Abbeokuta or Sunrise within the tropics. An outline of the origin and progress of the Yoruba Mission, 1857.

Sarah Tucker: Abbeokuta oder Sonnenaufgang zwischen den Wendekreisen. Eine Schilderung der Mission im Lande Joruba, approx. 1859.

Arthur F. Corwin: Spain and the Abolition of Slavery in Cuba, 1817–1886

Mario Michelena, Rubén Marrero: Diccionario de términos Yoruba: Pronunciacion, sinonimias, y uso practico del idioma Lucumí de la nacion Yoruba, Editorial Lectorum, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2010, and Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2014

Lydia Cabrera: Anagó. Vocabulario Lucumi. El Yoruba que se habla en Cuba. Ediciones Universal, 1996.

Nigeria. The Unknown. A missionary Study Text-Book on Nigeria. Church Mission Society, London 1918.

Church Missionary Intelligencer, 1856 (the issue with information on Dasalu and Cuba)

The etymology of ogan proves the Gùn-gbè origin of Candomblé Jeje by Victor Manfredi