Kumina is an Afro-Jamaican religion and practices that include secular ceremonies, dance and music that developed from the beliefs and traditions brought to the island by BaKongo enslaved people and indentured labourers, from the Congo region of West Central Africa, during the post-emancipation era.[1] Is mostly associated with the parish of St. Thomas in the east of the island. However, the practice spread to the parishes of Portland, St. Mary and St. Catherine, and the city of Kingston.[2]

Kumina also gives it name to a drumming style, developed from the music that accompanied the spiritual ceremonies, that evolved in urban Kingston. The Kumina drumming style has a great influence on Rastafari music, especially the Nyabinghi drumming, and Jamaican popular music. Count Ossie was a notable pioneer of the drumming style in popular music and it continues to have a significant influence on contemporary genres such as reggae and dancehall.[3]

The Kumina riddim is a dancehall riddim produced by Sly & Robbie in 2002. It has featured in recordings of over 20 artists including Chaka Demus & Pliers and Tanya Stephens.[3]

RegionSaint Thomas Parish, Jamaica
OriginPost-Abolition era
SeparationsKongo, Machunde, Mondongo, Moyenge, Igbo, Yoruba


Spirits are separated into sky bound and earth bound deities. Oto King Zombi is the Supreme Creator. Other sky bound spirits of Kumina are Obei and Shango. Earth bound spirits in Kumina are found in the Old Testament David, Ezekiel, Moses, Cain, and Shadrak. Ancestral spirits are also important in Kumina. The term used to refer to these ancestral spirits is Zombi, the term originates from the Kikongo word "dzambi". Only a person who has been possessed by a Zombi can become a Zombi after death. A Zombi had the privilege of returning to earth to preside over ceremonies and possess dancers and performing other duties. Unlike people who had been possessed by Zombies, those who had not been possessed would simply die and ascend to Oto King Zombi without chance of returning to earth.


Organization of Kumina communities follows the general local character of African religions in Jamaica. Kumina communities are small family based communities or nations. Some nations include Mondongo, Moyenge, Machunde, Kongo, Igbo, and Yoruba. People from Kumina families are given the title Bongo. Marrying into a Bongo family is one avenue to become a part of a Kumina nation; special initiation is the other avenue. Kumina nations are led by a "King" and "Queen". Imogene "Queenie" Kennedy AKA Queenie III (c1920-1998) was a well-known Kumina Queen in the 20th century, born in St Thomas in the late 1920s she later moved to Kingston and then Waterloo, St Catherine.[4]


  1. ^ Stewart, Dianne M. (2005-07-07). Three Eyes for the Journey: African Dimensions of the Jamaican Religious Experience. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198039082.
  2. ^ Murrell, Nathaniel Samuel (2010-01-25). Afro-Caribbean Religions: An Introduction to Their Historical, Cultural, and Sacred Traditions. Temple University Press. ISBN 9781439901755.
  3. ^ a b Ryman, Cheryl (2014). "Kumina". In Horn, David; Shepherd, John (eds.). Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Volume 9: Genres: Caribbean and Latin America. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781441132253.
  4. ^ "Kumina Queen's Drum Repatriated To Jamaica". Jamaican Gleaner. 3 August 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2016.

External links

Afro-American religion

Afro-American religion (also known as African diasporic religions) are a number of related religions that developed in the Americas in various nations of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the southern United States. They derive from traditional African religions with some influence from other religious traditions, notably Christianity.

Asovka River

Asovka (Russian: Асовка) is a river in Perm Krai, Russia, a left tributary of the Barda River. The river is 39 kilometres (24 mi) long. Its drainage basin covers 397 square kilometres (153 sq mi). Its origin is located east of village Machino, near the border with Sverdlovsk Oblast. Main tributaries: Molyobka River (right); Bolshaya Kumina River, Sosnovka River (left).

Bolshaya Kumina River

Bolshaya Kumina (Russian: Большая Кумина) is a river in Perm Krai, Russia, a left tributary of Asovka River which in turn is a tributary of Barda River. The river is 17 kilometres (11 mi) long.

Candomblé Bantu

Candomblé Bantu (also called Candomblé Batuque or Angola) is one of the major branches (nations) of the Candomblé religious belief system. It developed in the Portuguese Empire among Kongo and Mbundu slaves who spoke Kikongo and Kimbundu) languages. The supreme and creative god is Nzambi or Nzambi Mpungu. Below him are the Jinkisi or Minkisi, deities of Bantu mythology. These deities resemble Olorun and the other orishas of the Yoruba religion. Minkisi is a Kongo language term: it is the plural of Nkisi, meaning "receptacle". Akixi comes from the Kimbundu language term Mukixi.


Comfa is a folk religion in Guyana also known as Spiritualism or Faithism. The word "Comfa" is used by non-practitioners as a generic term for spirit possession in Guyana. However, the word "Comfa" is also a term to define the greater folk religion involving spirit possession originating in Guyana.


Convince, also known as Bongo or Flenke is a religion from eastern Jamaica. It has roots in Kumina and Jamaican Maroon religion.

Deejay (Jamaican)

In Jamaican music, a deejay (DJ) is a reggae or dancehall musician who sings and "toasts" to an instrumental riddim.

Deejays are not to be confused with DJs from other music genres like hip hop, where they select and play music. Dancehall/reggae DJs who select riddims to play are called selectors. Deejays whose style is nearer to singing are sometimes called singjays.

The term deejay came about as a result of the act of some selectors of the 1960s and 1970s such as U-Roy or King Stitt toasting to the version side of popular records of the time. The version came about when the record company produced the 45 record with an instrumental version of the song on the flip side. This gave the deejays the chance to make up on-the-fly lyrics to the instrumental music. This occurrence gave rise to deejay toasting and the term has been used in that context ever since.


A grater, also known as a shredder is a kitchen utensil used to grate foods into fine pieces. It was invented by François Boullier in the 1540s, originally to grate cheese.

Jamaican Maroon religion

The traditional Jamaican Maroon religion otherwise known as Kumfu was developed by a mixing of West and Central African religious practices in Maroon communities. While the traditional religion of the Maroons was absorbed by Christianity due to conversions in Maroon communities, many old practices continued on. Some have speculated that Jamaican Maroon religion helped the development of Kumina and Convince. The religious Kromanti dance is still practiced today but not always with the full religious connotation as in the past.

Kongo religion

Kongo religion is a broad set of traditional beliefs from the KiKongo speaking peoples. The faith bases itself in the idea of a main creator god named Nzambi Mpungu who made the world and spirits who inhabit it. Priestly doctors known as Nganga try to heal followers minds and bodies. Mediatory roles like being a Nganga require legitimization from the other world of spirits and ancestors. The universe is split between two worlds, one of the living (nza yayi) and a world of the dead (nsi a bafwa), these worlds are split by a body of water. Humans continually pass through these worlds in cycle.

List of Caribbean music genres

Caribbean music genres are diverse. They are each syntheses of African, European, Indian and Indigenous influences, largely created by descendants of African slaves (see Afro-Caribbean music), along with contributions from other communities (such as Indo-Caribbean music). Some of the styles to gain wide popularity outside the Caribbean include, bachata, merenque, palo, mombo, denbo, baithak gana, bouyon, cadence-lypso, calypso, chutney, chutney-soca, compas, dancehall, jing ping, parang, pichakaree, punta, ragga, reggae, reggaeton, salsa, soca, and zouk. Caribbean is also related to Central American and South American music.

The history of Caribbean music originates from the history of the Caribbean itself. That history is one of the native land invaded by outsiders; violence, slavery, and even genocide factor in. It's surprising that the music itself is so gentle, with this type of formative background.

Blame it on Christopher Columbus, the first European to land in this region in 1492. Based on Columbus's voyage, Spain claimed the entire region as its own. That didn't sit well with either the natives or Spain's European neighbors; within a few years, bloody battles raged across the islands of the Caribbean, fought by Spain, France, England, Denmark, and the Netherlands. All these battles (and diseases brought from Europe) decimated the native tribes, with entire cultures wiped out.

Thus the Caribbean was colonized as part of the various European empires. the native culture was further eroded when the Europeans imported African slaves to work the sugar and coffee plantations on their island colonies. in many cases, the native cultures -and the native musics- were replaced with those brought over from Africa.

At this point, whatever common Caribbean culture existed was splintered. Each of the European powers carved out their on cultures on their respective islands. Even with the ending of colonial period, this is the Caribbean we have today - a series of subtly different cultures from island to island.

This island-specific culture also informs the music of the Caribbean. Every island has its distinct musical styles, all inspired, to one degree or another, by the music brought over from the African slaves. As such, most Caribbean music, however unique to its own island culture, includes elements of African music - heavy use of percussion instruments, complex rhythmic patterns, and call-and-response vocals.

That said, it's important to recognize the musical styles unique to each island. In many cases, the difference between one style and another comes down to the rhythms utilized in each music; there is almost a different rhythm for every island.

The complex deep origins of Caribbean music are understood with a knowledge of Western Hemisphere colonial immigration patterns, human trafficking patterns, the resulting melting pot of people each of its nations and territories, and thus resulting influx of original musical influences. Colonial Caribbean ancestors were predominantly from West Africa, West Europe, and India. In the 20th and 21st centuries immigrants have also come from Taiwan, China, Indonesia/Java, and the Middle East. In addition, neighboring Latin American and North American (particularly hip hop and pop music) countries have naturally influenced Caribbean culture and vice versa. One must understand these influences to have a deep understanding of the resulting Caribbean music that reflects the culture of the people. Although there are musical commonalities among Caribbean nations and territories, the variation in immigration patterns and colonial hegemony tend to parallel the variations in musical influence. Language barriers (Spanish, Portuguese, English, Hindustani, Tamil, Telugu, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Yiddish, Yoruba, African languages, Indian languages, Amerindian languages, French, Indonesian, Javanese, and Dutch) are one of the strongest influences.

The divisions between Caribbean music genres are not always well-defined, because many of these genres share common relations and have influenced each other in many ways and directions. For example, the Jamaican mento style has a long history of conflation with Trinidadian calypso. Elements of calypso have come to be used in mento, and vice versa, while their origins lie in the Afro-Caribbean culture, each uniquely characterized by influences from the Shango and Shouters religions of Trinidad and the Kumina spiritual tradition of Jamaica.


Mento is a style of Jamaican folk music that predates and has greatly influenced ska and reggae music. It is a fusion of African rhythmic elements and European elements, which reached his peak popularity in the 1940s and 1950s. Mento typically features acoustic instruments, such as acoustic guitar, banjo, hand drums, and the rhumba box — a large mbira in the shape of a box that can be sat on while played. The rhumba box carries the bass part of the music.

Mento is often confused with calypso, a musical form from Trinidad and Tobago. Although the two share many similarities, they are separate and distinct musical forms. During the mid-20th century, mento was conflated with calypso, and mento was frequently referred to as calypso, kalypso and mento calypso. Mento singers frequently used calypso songs and techniques. As in calypso, mento uses topical lyrics with a humorous slant, commenting on poverty and other social issues. Sexual innuendos are also common.

Music of Jamaica

The music of Jamaica includes Jamaican folk music and many popular genres, such as mento, ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub music, dancehall, reggae fusion and related styles.

Reggae is especially popular through the international fame of Bob Marley. Jamaican music's influence on music styles in other countries includes the practice of toasting, which was brought to New York City and evolved into rapping. British genres such as Lovers rock, jungle music and grime are also influenced by Jamaican music.


Myal is an Afro-Jamaican spirituality developed via creolization of African religions during the slave era in Jamaica. It incorporates ritualistic magic, spirit possession, and dancing. The practice evolved over time to meld with Christian practices and created the religious tradition known as Revivalism. As the term exists today, "myal" is a common term used for the state of being possessed by a spirit. Unlike Obeah, it's practices focus more on the connection of the spirits with humans.

Nzambi a Mpungu

Nzambi a Mpungu is the Kongolese name for a high creator god. The idea of such a god spread from Central Africa into other Kongo related religions.

Old Pera, Jamaica

Old Pera is a small fishing village in south-eastern Jamaica, 15 minutes east of Morant Bay. The village is historic, with mountain and Caribbean sea views.

The area is known for its Kumina, a ritual celebration of a recent death based on reverence for ancestors.

Robe River (Australia)

Robe River is a river in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The headwaters of the river rise in the Hamersley Range near Marana Spring then flow in a north westerly direction past the Robe River-Deepdale mine, crossing the North West Coastal Highway near the Pannawonica turnoff then discharging into the Indian Ocean near Robe Point.

Robe River has two tributaries; Mungarathoona Creek and Kumina Creek.

The Robe is an ephemeral river and is restricted to a series of permanent pools that act as important refugia for native fauna through the dry season.The rivers experiences periodical flooding. Following Cyclone Monty in 2004 the river was in full flood resulting in Pannawonnica being cut off and people being rescued from the roof of Yarraloola homestead.In 2009, following heavy rainfall, the river burst its banks cutting roads and railway lines. Yarraloola Station was evacuated and Rio Tinto railway network was disrupted as a result.

Roots reggae

Roots reggae is a subgenre of reggae that deals with the everyday lives and aspirations of Africans and those in the African Diaspora, including the spiritual side of Rastafari, Black Liberation, revolution and the honoring of God, called Jah by Rastafari. It also is identified with the life of the ghetto sufferer, and the rural poor. Lyrical themes include spirituality and religion, struggles by artists, poverty, black pride, social issues, resistance to; fascism, capitalism (to varying degrees), corrupt government. and racial oppression. Also, a spiritual repatriation to Africa is a common theme in Roots Reggae.

Diverse roots

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