An Indigenous Religious Form
is an Afro-Jamaican religious belief system and practice.
The movement took form particularly in the 1850s with the
influx of African indentured immigrants from the Congo region
of Central Africa during the immediate post-emancipation period.
Kumina evolved strongest in St. Thomas where it is said that
a large percentage of the immigrants settled. However over
the years and through migration the practice has spread to
areas in Kingston, St. Catherine, St. Mary and Portland.
most significant aspect of Kumina involves the ceremony, which
invokes communication with ancestral spirits and incorporates
singing, dancing, music and sacrificial offerings. The music is created by the use of the drums - the Kbandu
and the Playing Cast, which are played astride and accompanied
by shakas, graters and catta sticks. The music accompanies
singing, which holds different degrees of significance for
Kumina ceremonies. Bailo are songs in Jamaican creole it is
the less sacred, aspects of Kumina ceremonies, while Country
involves the use of the Ki-kongo language and for communicating
with the spirits to give them support to take over the bodies
of devotees. Dancing completes the ritual and involves movement
with an erect back posture in a circular pattern anti-clockwise,
around the drummers, gyrating hips as the feet inch along
combination of singing, dancing and music often create an
environment conducive to spiritual possession, a significant
phenomenon in Kumina, known as Mayal. This is when the spirit
of the Gods, sky, earth-bound and ancestral spirits takes
control of the dancer’s body causing them to become
an instrument through which the spirit world communicates
with the earthly domain. In this state the dancer looses control
of his/her own speech and movement and can appear to be in
A Kumina table is another important part of the Kumina ceremony
and consists of a number of items used to satisfy and honour
the spirits. Water, sugared water, wine, rice, rum, flowers,
fruits, cake, bread candles, bottles of aerated drink are
often present. Candles of various colours such as blue, white,
green, red, black are used to symbolize different occasions
and to invite spirits in personal and mutual circumstances.
During ceremonies when interaction with the spirit takes place,
animal sacrifices are usually made.
ceremonies are held for different reasons - surrounding the
death of a person, tombing, weddings, and anniversaries, to
drive out evil spirits from those possessed, to ask for advice
in important matters, for healing and to free individuals
from evil spells. Ceremonies can also be held for persons
who seek help in problems and need guidance. In most cases
a table is raised and a feast is prepared to provide food
and treats for the spirit and for the people attending the
Leonard E. The sun and the drum: African roots in Jamaica
Folk Tradition. Kingston: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.,
Lewin, Olive. Rock it come over, the folk music of Jamaica:
Special reference to Kumina and the work of Mrs. Imogene
“Queenie” Kennedy. Kingston: University of the
Ryman, Cheryl. Kumina: stability and change Kingston: ACIJ
Research Review No. 1 (1984): 81-125.
Schuler, Monica. “Alas, alas, Kongo”: A social
history of indentured
African Immigration into Jamaica, 1841-1865. Baltimore: The
Johns Hopkins University Press 1980.