Afro-Cuban music is also influenced by African ethnic groups from the congo and arara region, as well as by the all-male society of the Abakua.


Palo traditions come from the Bantú people of Central Africa (particularly from Congo). The Bantú represent the majority of African slaves coming into Cuba during the 17th and early 18th century; later the Yoruba (from Nigeria) became the primary group brought to Cuba as slaves. Drums and hand rattles are used in this music, which is based upon communication with ancestral spirits, the dead, as opposed to the Orishas. The songs and chants, often in a hybrid combination of Spanish and Bantú words, play a central role in the rituals of Palo. Music of this tradition has had a strong influence on popular music forms like Rumba, Son and Mambo.


Yuka is a popular form of secular Congo music that was played during the 19th century and incorporated Yuka drums. Yuka dancing imitates the body language of chickens and roosters, and features the vacunao, a pelvic thrust that is also used in rumba and other dances derived from the Congo.


Abakua comes from the Calabar region of West Africa. Its special songs and drums are derived from all-male secret societies. These traditions retain many of the elements of African mystical ritual practice.


From the Fon people and the Arara kingdom of the Dahomean region, now known as Benin, Arara rhythms, songs and dances were introduced into eastern Cuba through Haiti, where many of those rituals and ceremonies are still practiced.


Makuta is a social dance of Congo origin. The makuta drums are a forebear of the conga drums. In Cuba, makuta refers to a festive gathering or a type of ritual staff, which is used at certain moments in Palo ceremonies to strike the ground in a rhythmic accompaniment to a song or dance.