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  THE KONGO RULE: THE PALO MONTE MAYOMBE WISDOM SOCIETY (REGLAS DE CONGO: PALO MONTE MAYOMBE)  A BOOK BY LYDIA CABRERA AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION FROM THE SPANISH Donato Fhunsu A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in  partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of English and Comparative Literature (Comparative Literature). Chapel Hill 2016 Approved by: Inger S. B. Brodey Todd Ramón Ochoa Marsha S. Collins Tanya L. Shields Madeline G. Levine    ii   © 2016 Donato Fhunsu ALL RIGHTS RESERVED    iii ABSTRACT Donato Fhunsu: The Kongo Rule: The Palo Monte Mayombe Wisdom Society (Reglas de Congo: Palo Monte Mayombe) A Book by Lydia Cabrera An English Translation from the Spanish (Under the direction of Inger S. B. Brodey and Todd Ramón Ochoa) This dissertation is a critical analysis and annotated translation, from Spanish into English, of the book  Reglas de Congo: Palo Monte Mayombe , by the Cuban anthropologist, artist, and writer Lydia Cabrera (1899- 1991). Cabrera’s text is a hybrid ethnographic book of religion, slave narratives (oral history), and folklore (songs, poetry) that she devoted to a group of Afro- Cubans known as “ los   Congos de Cuba ,” descendants of the Africans who were brought to the Caribbean island of Cuba during the trans-Atlantic Ocean African slave trade from the former Kongo Kingdom, which occupied the present-day southwestern part of Congo-Kinshasa, Congo-Brazzaville, Cabinda, and northern Angola. The Kongo Kingdom had formal contact with Christianity through the Kingdom of Portugal as early as the 1490s. These Africans brought with them to Cuba their religious beliefs and practices; their healing, harming, and fate-structuring and restructuring arts ( kinganga ); their language (Kikongo); and their storytelling practices (myths, fables, narratives, songs, poetry) which, in the process of coping with their new condition and environment in the Americas, became the knot of material intimacies of “people from all four quarters of the globe” who labored in this new sp ace to produce commodities for European consumption. In Cuba, they blended their African traditions with the traditions of the    iv native peoples of the island, of the Asians, and the Spanish and Christian Catholic tradition of the slave masters to produce a distinct, creole inspiration, language, and storytelling mode. Cabrera was inspired to do this work while studying art at the École du Louvre  in Paris in the 1930s, after meeting the  Négritude  poets (Césaire, Senghor, and Damas), whose works she translated from French into Spanish. The dissertation shows that  Reglas de Congo creates what the Congolese philosopher Valentin Mudimbe calls “ espace metissé, ” a new, creole, hybrid, “translated” space that challenges the colonial assumptions of African and “black”  personhood and articulates a religious-artistic, ontological, and epistemological dimension of personhood that, inserting itself on its own terms in this new cosmology, has come to be called “Kongo - inspired” and has led to a reconfiguration of the national project  —  what it means to be human and Cuban.
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