Most Afro Cubans are descendants from former enslaved people who mainly have roots in West Africa (e.g. Yoruba tribe Nigeria). It is estimated that almost 400,000 Africans were forced to Cuba between 1835-1864. In 1841, enslaved Africans made up over 40% of the total population.
Carlota Lucumi, a kidnapped African woman, is known as one of the leaders of the slave rebellion at the Triunvirato plantation in Mantanzas, Cuba. Carlota was an African-born free woman from the Kingdom of Benin, West Africa. Her last name, Lucumi, comes from her ethnic group, the Lucumi people, Afro-Cubans, who are descendants of the Yoruba of present-day Nigeria and Benin.
Carlota Lucumi is known as one of the heroes and organizer of the big slave revolt in Triumvirato, Cuba. She was of Yoruba origin and kidnapped from her country at the age of ten and brought to Cuba, where she was enslaved and had to work under harsh conditions on a sugar cane plantation.
Throughout the slave trade there have been numerous slave revolts in Cuba between the 18030s and 1840s. In 1843 Lucumi and another enslaved woman, Fermina, began to plot a rebellion. Their plan called for a simultaneous uprising on Triumvirato and surrounding plantations. A plantation owner found Fermina as she was spreading the information to other plantations. She was punsished with a severe beating and imprisonment. Despite this setback, Lucumi continued to organize the uprising. Using music as a form of communication, she sent coded messages by talking drum to nearby slaves, coordinating the rebellion.
On November 3, 1843, Lucumi gathered with other leaders such as Filip Narcisco in order to start the revolt. They burned down and destroyed five sugar cane plantations and several estates, freeing multiple enslaved people. On the last day of the two day rebellion, Lucumi and her female companion, Fermina were captured and executed by the Spaniards, which ended the revolt.
Although it didn’t end in freedom for the enslaved, it inspired many other revolts for Afro Cubans and empowered them to fight for their freedom.