The Memoirs of an Old Swamp Priest

Thu, Jun 5, 2008

Elders, Traditional Afrikan

The Memoirs of an Old Swamp Priest

by Baba Medahochi Kofi Omowale Zannu

I cannot help but see the value and necessity in finding unity in diversity – especially being Afrikan-American!

Our ancestors have made a way out of no way; we brought together everything we could to continue our survival. Sometimes we had to just go with what we had (and still do) to do the best we could in that moment. Nobody can tell me that some of the things our ancestors did (i.e., synchronizing/blending/creating spiritual systems) was wrong, because it was effective. It meant survival for us then, and believe it or not, it will mean survival for us now. We had to rely on our own spiritual light to discern what was useful and what was not.

Can you say ‘conjurer’? Can you say ‘root doctah?’ Have you ever been to a spiritualist church? Did you know that in our spiritualist tradition, in addition to getting in touch with the Holy Ghost, we can get spirits of our dead, Native American spirits (like Black Hawk) and others?

And now today we become initiated priests and perform great works and have access to and sanction to certain mysteries, and we call down the Orisa, the Vodun, the Caboclos, the Nkisi! It is so beautiful to return!

Do you know what ‘Obeah’ is? What about the secret doctoring tradition of the Afrikan American south? When I utilize the sacred herbs that I am guided to in the forests around my house for Orisa work does this make me wrong, even when it has been sanctioned by the deity I’m working with? Am I wrong to recommend these prescriptions to others when they have been effective? These questions are serious questions, I believe for us all in general, and Afrikan-Americans in particular, because they beckon us to search out our spiritual foundations.

What exactly is the spiritual foundation of Afrikan people in the diaspora? A people composed of at least 100 different ethnic groups stolen from the motherland, are you going to tell me that ‘doing work’ strictly from One Afrikan spiritual tradition is the only way to activate the healing, transformation, and ascension of the Afrikan-American spirit?

Our spiritual foundation is very vast, comprehensive, syncretic, effective, usable, creative, traditional, non-traditional, new, old…

Now please, don’t get me wrong. there are certain aspects of the traditions that must be protected, respected, and upheld with the highest integrity. But there is room for creativity, expansion, and evolution. Our ancestors have proved it, check it for yourself.

I know this debate will continue, because Afrikan Americans in the USA bring something different to IFA, that has been and is being called into question by other brothers and sisters in the spirit – that something different being our full intention to validate and recognize the truth in the history of our experiences over at least the past 500 years.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Davalu David Says:

    This Baba, Is a great loss. I myself have and love “Black Hawk”, my Orishas, my Loa, and work with my red pipe on occasion. I even work with Santisima Muerte and I feel our creator gave us ALL THINGS. To Honour,Respect and Revere this variety in use of betterment is necessary. We are mixed BLOOD,RACE, and COLOR. We are loved as we are. The world needs worship and love of that creator in any form or many forms. Evil and destruction do so much damage! Even the nkisi can work much faster in EMERGENCY situation. As long as good is done, Does it matter who steps to the call to bring that good into being? I’m all for the GUMBO for the GUMBO!

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