“Born in Cuba, Oba Pichardo was claimed in utero by the Yoruba divinity Sango. He was among the first wave of immigrants that left Cuba following the revolution. In 1971, he was ordained to the priesthood of Sango, and has since then dedicated himself fully to the study of Lucumi religion and philosophy. One decade of oral apprenticeship and practice earned Pichardo the rank of Oba Oriate, a high-ranking position that makes him a master of all rites of passage, priesthood ordination, and divination in Lukumi-Yoruba religion. “Ernesto co-founded Church of Lukumi Babalú Ayé (CLBA) in 1974, and has since then served as its president, charged with developing the structure of the church and its educational and outreach programs. CLBA is recognized as the first Lukumi church with a corporate structure in the history of the African Diaspora.” Besides his writings and frequent media appearances talking about the importance of Santería, Oba Pichardo is known throughout Florida for having won a June 11, 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case against the city of Hialeah, Florida. The Supreme Court found that a Hialeah city ordinance banning ritual animal sacrifices was specifically created for enforcement against CLBA’s Santería practitioners.
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