In the early 20th century, the legendary Pilar Fresneda—Asonsiperaco carried the dynamic traditions from the Cabildo Arará Sabalú Nonjó in Matanzas to Havana City. The stories about Fresneda are many. Some say she was born in Africa, consecrated to Asojano-Alua, and came to Cuba at age seven. Others say her mother was freed from slavery in Africa, and still others claim it was her father who was African-born. Some say she went to Havana as a child, and others claim it was much later. Similarly, some say she was 80-something when she died, but her son El Bate said she was 102 or 103 when she died.
As Arará elder Milagros Sequiera Palma tells it, Fresneda left the Matanzas cabildo in a conflict over the emerging community in Havana. Fresneda wanted to carry the cabildo’s sacred drums to Havana to play at a drumming ceremony, but cabildo powerhouse Michaela Ruiz would not allow it. Fresneda then sponsored the creation of new set of sacred drums, and these were recognized by the Matanzas drums and drummers as legitimate.
Matlide Sotomayor(Thanks to David H. Brown for images of Pilar and Matilde, and for the info on Bartolo and Victor.)