Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble presents


Wemilere: Parade of the Orishas

Saturday, February 16, 5 PM

Free & Open to the Public

A wemilere is the Yoruba word for celebration. This wemilere celebrates eight of the most revered orishas (deities) in Yoruba culture: Elegba, Ogun, Ochosi, Oshun, Yemaya, Shango, Oya, and Obatala. The Yoruba peoples originated in Southwest Nigeria. As part of the African Diaspora, Yoruba culture and religion spread throughout West Africa and around the world, including Cuba and the United States. There is a flourishing community of Yoruba practitioners in Philadelphia.

The orishas portrayed in this afternoon’s performance include:

Elegba, orisha of roads and doors, who stands at the crossroads of the human and the divine. Nothing can be done in either realm without his permission.

Ogun, an ironworker, laborer, hunter and warrior who wields a machete. He is the protector of his people.

Ochosi, an archer, an unerring marksman and the lord of justice. Ochosi hunts for the truth. He carries a crossbow in his hands.

Oshun, goddess of sweetness and love, who succeeds in returning Ogun to his people after a long absence by tempting him with dances and honey.

Yemaya, goddess of the ocean and rivers, including the River Ogun. Her name means “the mother whose children are the fish.”

Shango, god of thunder and lighting, who is one of the most powerful and feared orishas.

Oya, a fierce warrior and ruler of storms and winds. She assists people with transformations. Her name means “she who tore.”

Obatala, king of the white cloth. He dances with a white horse’s tail in his hand. He promotes peace and compassion, as well as clean living and clarity of thought.

The event starts with 10 minutes of drumming by the Afro-Cuban Rhythms. / Les invitamos al concierto gratis con este grupo de danza. 

Following the live performances we will be screening a 12-minute documentary by the filmmaker Aidan Un. Un’s film follows Kulu Mele’s 2018 visit to Cuba, where they immersed themselves in Cuban culture and worked with the renowned Afro-Cuban dance and drum company, Ballet Folklórico Cutumba. Kulu Mele studied with Cutumba in preparation for the development of Kulu Mele’s 50th-anniversary production, Ogun & the People, which will premiere in Philadelphia in fall of 2019. This afternoon’s performance will conclude with an audience and artist Q&A.

Choreography by Dorothy Wilkie; Music arranged by John Wilkie; Costume Design by Dorothy Wilkie.

PhilAesthetic: AAMP Celebrates the African Diaspora in Philly has been generously supported by a grant from PNC Arts Alive.

Learn more at Saturday, February 16, 5 p.m. Free & Open to the Public

Major support for Ogun & the People has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.