Lava over the Ocean

Yemayá and Aganjú at their best

Recently, Willie Ramos (Ilari Oba), one of my most admired oriatés sent me an article from Modern Ghana. The article spoke about the preponderance of foreign religions in Africa and its impact on tribal and native religions. The author, Farouk Martins Aresa, also pointed wisely that the Santería community had managed to become a storehouse of faith and resilience that apparently seems to be lacking in today’s Africa in the face of growing Christian and Muslim spiritual domination. This is due to the fact that the people who came through the Middle Passage fought tooth and nail to preserve their religions. They were ingenious, tenacious and indomitable in their convictions.

Thanks to our ancestors, we have the jewels of practices like the Lukumí, Kimbisa, Umbanda, Macumba, Voodoo, and many other African Traditional Traditions (ATRs) in the Diaspora. I am including a link to the article at the bottom of the post, because I want you to read it and make up your own mind about this subject. However, here are two key paragraphs to whet your appetite.

“Out of all the continents, only Africa has predominantly accepted religions that are not indigenous to Africans as the rule of worship while Christian, Muslim, Indus, Jew and Buddhism remain the principal religion of their areas. The only exception is the Africans Santeria in Diaspora. This is very important in the analysis of human behavior that calls for adherence to our culture only in the face of adversity. The same is true about African food outside Africa. Do all Africans have to be deprived to appreciate our God given blessings?

Just for the sake of those unfamiliar with Santeria. These are Africans free men and women before Columbus and slaves after Columbus that still refuse to allow their religion to die. Even in the face of punishment to adopt the religion of other continents, these Africans used symbols of Christianity to deceive their captors while actually praying to Sango, Oya, Oduduwa, Ogun or Orisha. When the Africans at home and those in Diaspora meet, we can guess who are more surprised at which religion the others are practicing.”—Religions of Mass Destruction by Farouk Martins Aresa
I am a child of two opposing forces, Yemayá, the ocean, and, Aganjú, the volcano. Why does that matter? It is through the violent encounter of such magnificent forces that rich land is created. This balance of powers also creates some of the most wonderful and mysterious creatures inhabiting deep down in the realm of Olokun.

It is a fact that evolution and creation are two of Olofi’s favorite entertainments, but it is also a fact that it is through our diligence as practitioners that balances are kept and religions sustained. If we turn our backs onto tradition, time will wash over our systems and eventually even the greatness of the Creator as we understand it in the Lukumí practice will be but dust in our memories.

Times of challenges never ease for those of us who value tradition. This brings me to a second point. Whereas in Africa foreign dominant religions keep eroding ATRs, in the rest of the world a similar trend is taking place, it is spearheaded by people who are starving for religious practices such as ours because their own are denuded of the passion and conviction our systems posses. I am plainly speaking about members of other religions and beliefs systems that are opening their eyes at one reality: Their religions as currently practiced are empty shells where all the power is poured onto selected few individuals or kept in elitist intellectual groups leaving the masses hungry for true spirituality.

It is not a bad thing to have an influx of new believers in ATRs, the issue we face is that a great deal of these believers come with strings attached. They see themselves as superior and would wish to fuse their concepts to fit our religions to their view of the world. They would like to infuse their own magical practices, from whichever walk they come, with the heart of our Orishas, Lwá and Nkisis in a sickening white-washed goulash of their own concepts that only serve their own interests. Some of the arguments I have heard leave me in complete disgust. I am well aware that our practices have elements of syncretism, but this syncretism was a natural part of a process of survival.

Nowadays, we need not to worry about surviving from the oppression of slave traders and masters. We need to worry about the oppression of people who perceive themselves as intellectual superiors ready to harness the power of our traditional religions. That is the true danger of this encounter between lava and ocean. This is not a matter of natural evolution; this is a matter of intellectual revolution.

Read these words carefully. Those of you who are oloshas, oluwos, mambos, houngans, maes and paes who cherish what you have been handed to protect as a legacy of blood, sweat and tears. Be careful of those who seduce you with cash to sell a way into your ilés, munansós, terreiros and peristils. Do not be glamour by seductive words promising hoards of godchildren and to make your name shine and glitter across the world when your practices are published in their books and journals. Open your eyes to one simple fact, it is not about what they can contribute to our future as religious communities, for these people is all about what they can and will take from you for their own glory here and now.

Oní Yemayá Achagbá

Source: Farouk Martins Aresa
Story from Modern Ghana News:

4 Replies to “Lava over the Ocean”

  1. This response comes from Facebook and I am reposting it on the blog for the benefit of those who do not know about our Facebook channel.

    Ifagbenusola Aworeni Àború boye bosíse
    Mo ki gbogbo in..

    My salutations and respect to all
    We have to look at this article very carefully, because the truth always have many versions, I talk about the your version, my version and the truth itself. Actually the cur…rent African reality is that you stated, but not all about the evil nature of people who take advantage of the Faith as social lever. Both in Africa and in ours diaspora in there but people dedicated to the true teachings of Indígenous Yorùbá Tradition[Isese Yorùbá], and are not focused exclusively on financial benefits. We have to have a balanced view, and I understand that there are people negative, but there are also people dedicated to real faith. I’ve always been of the opinion that it is a mistake to generalize, but I think label the someone an even bigger mistake. The judge to our attitudes is not the human being, given that we are all flawed, who judges us is our own conscience or God.. [here I talk about the ours Orí and the Elenini]
    If we want to change the world, we must start with ourselves, because it is easier try to teach others, than actually learning. Let me close by saying we are the sum of our deeds, our actions demonstrate that what we are. My respects and thanks for inviting me to opine, I am sorry for any inconvenience, but one man without his own opinion,can not be considered a man. There are people who criticize, and there are people who build, the question is – which one we want to be..?

    The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook*, unless otherwise indicated:
    – Based on a 2009 World Religious survey (Mapping out the Global Muslim Population) 50.4% of Nigeria’s population were Muslims, they are mainly found in the northern part of the country. Majority of Nigerian Muslims are Sunni. Christians are the second largest religious group making up 48.2% of the population, they dominate in the Middle Belt and southern part of the country, while adherents of other religions make up 1.4% of the population.

    (*).[The World Factbook (ISSN 1553-8133; also known as the CIA World Factbook) is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. ]


    The most numerous ethnic group in the northern two-thirds of the country is the Hausa-Fulani,the overwhelming majority of whom are Muslim. Other major ethnic groups of the north are the Nupe, Tiv, and Kanuri. The Yorùbá people are the most numerous in the southwest. Over half of the Yorùbás are Christian and about a quarter are Muslim, with the remainder following mostly traditional beliefs. The predominantly Christian Igbo are the largest ethnic group in the southeast. Roman Catholics are the largest denomination, but Pentecostal and other Evangelical denominations are also strong. The Efik, Ibibio, Annang, and Ijaw (the country’s fourth-largest ethnic group) communities also comprise a substantial segment of the population in that area. Persons of different language backgrounds most commonly communicate in English, although knowledge of two or more Nigerian languages is widespread. Hausa, Yorùbá, and Igbo are the most widely used Nigerian languages. [Font: Wikipedia]

    Awò Fagbenusola
    from South America[Brazil]

    1. Awó Fagbenusola,

      Àború boye bosíse. Alafia and thanks for your words. I do agree with you, the truth is multifasceted and must be build from different perspectives, but eventually it must serve one master, the advancement and edification o…f our religious community overall. The truth must help to preserve our legacy, or else the sacrifices of our ancestors would have been in vain.

      The article did its purpose if it motivated the start of a healthy conversation and the inclusion of additional thoughts outside of ours. 🙂

      The Mystic Cup seeks to build and advance the spiritual journeys of those who come and share its space on-line. The inclusion of criticism in some of the articles is meant as a teaching tool to awake readers to diverse perspectives and to motivate them to look deeper, thus the inclusion of the original sources. Realities are what they are it is in the way we choose to react to them where we show our orí is properly guiding us and where our character must shine.

      There are indeed kind hearted individuals in Africa and elsewhere that dedicate themselves to keeping our legacy and furthering the knowldedge of individuals, but it is a fact that there are strong undercurrents that must be examined and filtered by those who have the position in our commuities to do so. If left unchecked the balance and foundation of our own structures could be endangered.

      Thanks for joining the conversation, I could only hope for other thought leaders to also participate in it. I will repost our conversation on the blog for the benefit of those who do not visit Facebook.


      1. Ifagbenusola Aworeni ‎@Misty Seas

        Àború boye bosíse
        Mo ki gbogbo in..
        Please one just a small correction, I’m not a great leader, but a simple and provincial Awò, I expressed the opinion that it is something personal and may not reflect the views of the family. I…… think it important to emphasize, I am solely responsible for the opinion to the I emit. O dabo

        Awò Fagbenusola
        from South America[Brazil]

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