Yoruba Priests See Bumpy Year Ahead

2004 will be a year of aviation and shipping disasters, climate upheaval and political strife in the world, Cuba's Yoruba high priests predicted on Tuesday, warning that sacrifices would be needed to ward off evil omens.

But foreign investment will be on the rise, the Afro-Cuban priests known as "babalawos" said in their annual prophesies.

The year will see the death or downfall of major religious and political leaders, they augured, without naming names.

The priests recommended sacrifices of pregnant goats and white chickens, and offerings of milk and meringue to the reigning deity Obatala.

The Yoruba religion was brought to Cuba in colonial times by slaves from Western Nigeria and has a strong following on the communist-run Caribbean island.