To properly attempt to write a profile on such a colorful and significant character as Chano Pozo, we must go to Africa, where it all began.
The Niger River Delta, in the Africa Bend, more specifically the area of Calabar, was one of the premier sources of slaves during the heightening sugar production era in Cuba in the early 1800’s. The Calabar male natives, had an Egbo leopard society, which in Cuba was reborn under the name Acuabatón, conjuring up the myth of Abakuá, manifesting itself in a ritual of ancestor and deity worship, and secret initiations of brotherhood. The Abakuá in Cuba were also called ñañigos, and created a high standard as dancers and drummers, as well as for their flamboyant dress and behavior. They also were also feared and reputed to be a sort of underworld gang.
The influence of the Abakuá in the Cuban world of drumming has been profound since its presence in the traditional rumbas. In Cuba, a rumba was/is a social gathering of drumming with dancing, its origins in the cane fields, streets and barrios. A cultural diffusion with the Lucumi (Yoruba) style of drumming has evolved into the classic Afro-Cuban percussive style of guaguancó, yambú, and columbia that is eminent today. There were/are many Cuban rumberos that were members of both the Abakuá and Santeriá (Yoruba) societies.
Chano Pozo was one of these rumberos, mentioned above. He would influence jazz and popular Latin music well into the next century!!