Rafael Linares—Emergo Revised

Last week, I was in Havana, making ebó to Asojano and giving him an Arará drumming. As part of my regular visits to people I know, I traveled to Reparto Mañana, tucked in between Regla and Guanabacoa. There I visited my comadre Raquel Fernández—Obá Kedun. I have known Raquel since 1997, when I started working in the house of her godson, Saul Fernández—Baba Ni Belequé. In 1999, she supported me in a highly charged initiation ceremony in Centro Habana, and a few years back I received the Ibeyi from her.

Although I have known her for many years, it was only recently that I learned that she was married to Rafael Linares—Emerego until his death on December 9, 1985. Arará people in Havana often remember Linares as a knowledgeable and meticulous priest of Asojano.

He grew up in the religion. His father was Alberto Linares, the babalawo Ogbe-Roso, and his stepmother was Joaquina Sánchez—Towá. Their house was a gathering place for religious practitioners of their generation. On June 9, 1967, Rafael was made to Asojano by Matilde Sotomayor—Asoinque and Ñica Fernández—Onojome, both god-daughters of the famous Pilar Fresneda—Asonsiperaco. After he married Raquel, they both worked in the house of Margot San Lázaro, whose complex story deserves its own narrative.

When Rafael joined the ancestors, his orichas stayed with Raquel, and she still tends them just as he did in the little apartment in Reparto Mañana. He always kept his orichas behind a curtain and covered with the herb Cubans call cundiamor. While he died 25 years ago, his já still looks like new.