BUT white AIN'T S___T!"











Search This Blog



Sunday, March 24, 2013

GREAT BLACK "BABA".(DADDY) Richard Williams Has a New Baby Boy with his New Wife!-BLACK Skinned BEAUTIES Venus Williams ati Serena Have a NEW BROTHER!-BLACK ON!

Venus and Serena Williams's 71-year old daddy has a new baby with a 33-year old woman (PICTURED)

Posted by Y! Staff Contributor

They say that you're never too old to start over again.  If you want an example of this notion in practice, you only need to look toward Richard Williams.  The father of tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams has gotten a new lease on youth by having a baby with his 33-year old wife Lakeisha Graham.

How young is Richard's wife?  She's only one year older than Venus and two years older than Serena.  So, at least the all have something in common.

Lakeisha started dating Richard back in 2009 and the two got engaged later that year.  They were married in December, 2010, and she now enjoys financial security from a man who is old enough to be her grandfather.

Richard was divorced from his ex-wife Oracene in 2002.  She left the marriage after ending up with three broken ribs during a domestic violence incident for which her husband was never charged.

Richard's son Dylan is only seven months old.  He has two daughters and three sons from a previous marriage that ended in 1973 before Venus and Serena were born.   The reason that Venus and Serena withdrew from a documentary about their lives was because it portrayed their father as a controlling force in his relationships.

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

Saturday, March 16, 2013


VOGUE Magazine

Leading by Example: First Lady Michelle Obama

photographed by Annie Leibovitz


At the start of a second term, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk to Jonathan Van Meter about their life as parents, their marriage, and their vision for America's families.

One morning in late January, I am standing at one end of the grand red-carpeted corridor that runs through the center of the White House, when suddenly the First Lady appears at the other. "Heeeee's comin'," she says of her husband's imminent arrival. "He's coming down the stairs now." The president is on his way from the residence above, and just a split second before he appears, the First Lady, in a midnight-blue Reed Krakoff sleeveless dress and a black kitten heel, slips into the tiniest bit of a surprisingly good soft-shoe, and then the two of them walk arm in arm into the Red Room to sit for a portrait by Annie Leibovitz. The photographer has her iPod playing the Black Eyed Peas song "Where Is the Love?" It is a mid-tempo hip-hop lament about the problematic state of the world. As the First Lady and an aide laugh together over some inside joke, the president starts nodding his head to the beat: "Who picked the music? I love this song."

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I'm gettin' older, y'all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin'
Selfishness got us followin' the wrong direction

A few minutes later, Leibovitz has the president sit in a comfortable chair and then directs the First Lady to perch on the arm. At one point, the First Lady puts her hand on top of his and, instinctively, he wraps his fingers around her thumb. "There's a lot of huggin' going on," says Leibovitz, and everyone laughs. "You're a very different kind of president and First Lady."

See our animated video of Michelle Obama's best looks.

That they are. Put aside for a moment that they are the first African-Americans to preside in the White House, or that it feels perfectly normal to see the president enjoying a hip-hop song in the Red Room before lunch, or that the First Lady has bucked convention by routinely mixing Thom Browne and Alexander McQueen with J.Crew and Target, or that Malia and Sasha's grandma lives with them upstairs, or that the whole family texts and takes pictures of one another with their smart phones. What is truly unusual about the Obamas is that, in their own quietly determined way, they have insisted on living their lives on their terms: not as the First Family but as a family, first.

First Lady of Fashion: See Michelle Obama's Best Dressed Moments

"He is a dad," says the president's senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, "and a husband, and he enjoys being with his children and his wife. He doesn't have a father. He's trying really hard to be a good dad." Says former senior adviser David Axelrod, "This is conjecture on my part, but I have to believe that because of the rather tumultuous childhood that he had, family is even more important to him. It's central to who he is. That's why he's home every night at 6:30 for dinner."

Click through our archival slideshow First Ladies in Vogue.

The president and First Lady both seem to be in ebullient moods, and deservedly so. His surprisingly decisive reelection is now history; the tonally precise inauguration is ten days behind them. The First Lady, it must be said, is funny, and it soon becomes clear that she can't resist an opportunity to tease her husband. The first real question I ask them is about the persistent notion among the Washington press corps that they—unlike, say, the Reagans or the Clintons—are somehow antisocial, that they don't privately entertain enough at the White House, that they don't break bread and smoke cigars and play poker with their enemies. When I joke that they might want to "put that idea to rest" once and for all, the president starts to answer, but his wife, whose back has gone up ever so slightly, cuts him off. "I don't think it's our job to put an idea to rest. Our job is, first and foremost, to make sure our family is whole. You know, we have small kids; they're growing every day. But I think we were both pretty straightforward when we said, 'Our number-one priority is making sure that our family is whole.' "

They are quick to point out that most of their friends have kids themselves, and that when they go on vacation, usually with longtime family friends and relatives, they end up with a houseful of children. "The stresses and the pressures of this job are so real that when you get a minute," the First Lady says, "you want to give that extra energy to your fourteen- and eleven-year-old. . . ." "Although," her husband says, a big grin spreading across his face, "as I joked at a press conference, now that they want less time with us, who knows? Maybe you'll see us out in the clubs."

"Saturday night!" says the First Lady. "The kids are out with their friends. Let's go party!"

" 'The Obamas are out in the club again?' " says the president, laughing. "What is true," he says, more seriously, "is that we probably—even before we came to Washington—had already settled in a little bit to parenthood. And. . . ." Here he pauses in the way that only President Obama can. "Let's put it this way: I did an awful lot of socializing in my teens and 20s.

Read André Leon Talley's story on Michelle Obama as she settled into the White House in 2009.

"But what is also true," he says, "is that the culture in Washington has changed in ways that probably haven't been great for the way this place runs. . . . When you talk to the folks who were in the Senate or the House back in the sixties, seventies, eighties, there was much less pressure to go back and forth to your home state. . . . Campaigns weren't as expensive. So a lot of members of Congress bought homes here in the area; their kids went to school here; they ended up socializing in part because their families were here. By the time I got to the Senate, that had changed. Michelle and the girls, for example, stayed in Chicago, and I had this little bachelor apartment that Michelle refused to stay in because she thought it was a little, uh. . . ."

"Yikes," she says.

"You know, pizza boxes everywhere," he says. "When she came, I had to get a hotel room." The First Lady leans in toward me. "That place caught on fire."

"It did end up catching on fire," says the president sheepishly.

"And I was like, I told you it was a dump," she says. Her husband continues, "As a consequence, I think, when the Washington press writes about this, part of what they're longing for has less to do with us; it has to do with an atmosphere here where there was more of a community in Washington, which did result, I think, in less polarization. Because if your kids went to school together and you're seeing each other at ball games and church, then Democrats and Republicans had a sense that this is not just perpetual campaigning and political warfare."

While the First Lady may not be a Tiger Mom, and the Obamas may not be helicopter parents (despite their access to Marine One), they are, in fact, exemplars of a new paradigm—the super-involved parenting team for whom being equally engaged in the minutiae of their children's lives is paramount. Perhaps this is what has been misconstrued by old-school Washington. After all, it is so unlike the way that the White House has traditionally functioned, as a paragon of American family life, complete with a staff that all but invented the idea of standing on ceremony.

Later I bring this up to Anita Dunn, former White House communications director and a consultant on the reelection campaign who has a teenager of her own. "You know," she says, "they are of a different generation. Most of [the Obamas'] friends have both parents in the workforce, and there is a degree of involvement from both parents in raising the children that simply wasn't the case earlier. But they also both know what it's like to be raising kids in this very challenging time—whether it's video games or Facebook or smart phones. That they are experiencing these things along with so many other American parents gives them a unique perspective on the challenges families face."

I mention the wintry tableau on Inauguration Day, all four Obamas texting and taking pictures of one another. "Sasha plays basketball with her little team at a community center in my neighborhood," says Dunn. "My son played there and, you know, there are no bleachers or anything—parents are just standing on the sidelines. And that's an experience that the president has, just like all those other parents. If I was in a school play, my father would show up. But, you know, he wasn't at the rehearsals. It is a different model. But I think it has been a valuable thing, to help them break out of the bubble."

From our 2012 Special Edition Best Dressed Issue: Michelle Obama: A Woman of Substance

A friend of mine with two kids who are just heading off to college pointed out to me recently that Malia and Sasha are on the cusp of that stage in life when parenting requires, as she put it, "elasticity"—and life in the White House seems anything but elastic. "Well, the environment becomes more elastic," the First Lady says. "The Secret Service has to change the way they do things; they have to become more flexible. And they do. Because they want to make sure that these girls are happy and that they have a normal life. . . . There's a lot of energy that goes into working with staff, working with agents, working with friends' parents to figure out how do we, you know, let these kids go to the party and have a sleepover and walk through the city on their own, go to the game. Any parent knows that these are the times when you're just a scheduler and chauffeur for your kids. And that doesn't change for us. Ninety percent of our conversation is about these girls: What are they doing? And who's got what practice? And what birthday party is coming up? And did we get a gift for this person? You know, I mean, it is endless and it gets to be pretty exhausting, and if you take your eye off the ball, that's when their lives become inelastic," she says emphatically. "So it requires us to be there and be present so that we can respond and have the system respond to their needs. . . . And he's doing it while still dealing with Syria and health care. He's as up on every friend, every party, every relationship. . . . And if you're out at dinner every night, you miss those moments where you can check in and just figure them out when they're ready to share with you."

The Obamas' unusually close partnership and decision-making process started long before they had children. It is now part of legend that when Michelle Robinson decided to leave her cushy office at a corporate Chicago law firm to go work at City Hall for Valerie Jarrett, then deputy chief of staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley, she asked Jarrett to have dinner with her then-fiancé before making the leap. When I ask Jarrett if she could offer any insight into how life in the White House has affected the Obamas' relationship, she says, "They had a very good marriage going in, but it strengthened it because, well, it's tested it. He has had some really, really tough moments in the White House, and the fact that his partner in this journey has been so steadfastly in his corner and never wavered, it teaches you every day to appreciate what you have. When you've had a really tough day and had to make the kinds of literally life-and-death decisions that he's had to make in the Oval Office, to come home and know you're safe and that your children are being well taken care of and you feel totally nurtured. . . . We joke about this: He goes home for dinner and no one's interested in his day. They want to talk about their day. And that is such a relief. And she manages that for him."

Find out more about Michelle Obama at Voguepedia.com.

When I paraphrase Jarrett's observation for the president and First Lady, he shifts in his seat and leans forward. "Well, what is true is that, first and foremost, Michelle thinks about the girls. And pretty much everything else from Michelle's perspective right now is secondary. And rightly so. She is a great mom. What is also true is Michelle's had to accommodate"—he pauses for a long while—"a life that"—another pause—"it's fair to say was not necessarily what she envisioned for herself. She has to put up with me. And my schedule and my stresses. And she's done a great job on that. But I think it would be a mistake to think that my wife, when I walk in the door, is, Hey, honey, how was your day? Let me give you a neck rub. It's not as if Michelle is thinking in terms of, How do I cater to my husband? I think it's much more, We're a team, and how do I make sure that this guy is together enough that he's paying attention to his girls and not forgetting the basketball game that he's supposed to be going to on Sunday? So she's basically managing me quite effectively—that's what it comes down to. I'm sure Valerie might have made it sound more romantic." The First Lady, who has been staring at her lap through this entire answer, finally looks up and laughs.

It almost comes as a relief to see the president, so famous for his cool, get a little defensive. I bring up what someone described as his "Hawaiian mellowness" and ask the First Lady to describe this aspect of her husband. "I've tried to explain this guy to people over the years, but there is a calmness to him that is just . . . it has been a consistent part of his character. Which is why I think he is uniquely suited for this challenge—because there is a steadiness. And maybe it's because of his Hawaiian upbringing—you go to Hawaii and it's Chillsville; maybe it was because his life growing up was a little less steady, so he had to create that steadiness for himself . . . but he is that person, in all situations, over the course of these last four years, from watching the highs and lows of health-care reform to dealing with two very contentious, challenging elections. . . . The most you get from him is 'You know, that is gonna be tough. . . .' There are a lot of times I can't tell how his day went. Unless I really dig down. Because when he walks through that door, he can let go of it all. And it just doesn't penetrate his soul. And that's the beautiful thing for me to see as his wife. That was one of the things I was worried about: How would politics affect this very decent, genuine, noble individual? And there is just something about his spirit that allows all that stuff to stay on the outside."

Someone recently introduced me to the concept of "borrowed functioning," something that successful couples do without even realizing it. When I describe the concept to the Obamas and confess that my partner of fifteen years is an unflappable, hard-to-read Midwesterner and that I am an emotional hothead from Jersey, they both laugh and gamely play along.

"Well, patience and calm I'm borrowing," says the First Lady. "Or trying to mirror. I've learned that from my husband, that sort of, you know, ability to not get too high or too low with changes and bumps in the road . . . to do more breathing in and just going with it. I'm learning that every day. And to the extent that I've made changes in my life, it's just sort of stepping back and seeing a change not as something to guard against but as a wonderful addition . . . that can make life fun and unexpected. Oftentimes, it's the way we react to change that is the thing that determines the overall experience. So I've learned to let go and enjoy it and take it in and not take things too personally."

Without missing a beat, the president says, "And what Michelle has done is to remind me every day of the virtues of order." The First Lady lets out a big laugh. "Being on time. Hanging up your clothes. Being intentional about planning time with your kids. In some ways I think . . . we're very different people, and some of that's temperamental, some of it is how we grew up. Michelle grew up in a model nuclear family: mom, dad, brother. . . . She just has these deep, wonderful roots. When you go back to Chicago, she's got family everywhere. . . .
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013

BLACK BLACK SKINNED BEAUTIES #1 417737_10200203438381268_1166719659_n.jpg

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN


Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN


Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN


FROM afrikannames.com


"A mother cannot die." -
Democratic Republic of the CONGO

Enjoy this list of African names.

AKA (AH-kah). Mother. Nigeria (Eleme) F

EKA (EH-kah). Mother earth. West Africa F

INE -(EE-neh). Mother. Nigeria (Ishan) F


JIBOO (jee-boh). New mother. Gambia (Mandinka) F

MAMAWA (MAHM-wah). Small mother. Liberia F

MANYI (mahn-yee). The mother of twins. Cameroon (Mungaka) F

MASALA (mah-SAH-lah). The great mother. Sudan F

NAHWALLA (nah-WAHL-lah). The mother of the family. Cameroon (Mubako) F

NANA (NAH-nah). Mother of the earth. Ghana F

NANJAMBA (nahn-JAHM-bah). Mother of twins. Angola (Ovimbundu)

NINA (NEE-nah). Mother. East Africa (Kiswahili) F

NNENMA (n-NEHN-mah). Mother of beauty. Nigeria (Igbo) F

NNEORA (n-neh-OH-rah). Mother loved by all. Nigeria (Igbo) F

NOBANTU (noh-BAHN-too). Mother of nations. Azania (Xhosa) F

NOBUNTU (noh-BOON-too). Mother of humanity. Azania (Xhosa) F

NOLUNDI (noh-LOON-dee). Mother of horizons. Azania (Xhosa) F

NOMALI (NOH-MAH-lee). Mother of riches. Azania (Xhosa) F

NOMANDE noh-MOHN-deh). Mother of patience. Azania (Xhosa) F

NOMPI (nohm-PEE). Mother of war. Azania (Xhosa) F

NOMSA (NOHM-sah). Mother of kindness. Azania (Xhosa) F

NONDYEBO (non-dyeh-boh). Mother of plenty. Azania (Xhosa) F

NOZIZWE (noh-ZEEZ-weh). Mother of nations. Azania (Nguni)

NOZUKO (noh-ZOO-koh). Mother of glory. Azania (Xhosa) F

UMAYMA (o-MAH-ee-mah). Little mother. North Africa (Arabic) F

UMI (OO-mee). My mother. Kiswahili F

UMM (oom). Mother. North Africa (Arabic) F

YENYO (yehn-yoh). Mother is rejoicing. Nigeria (Yoruba) F

YEYO (yeh-YOH). Mother. Tanzania F

YETUNDE (yeh-TOON-deh). The mother comes back. Nigeria (Yoruba) F

YINGI (YEEN-gee). My beloved mother. Nigeria
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

Friday, March 08, 2013







by Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade










from orishanet.org

The Orishas

The orishas are the emissaries of Olodumare or God almighty. They rule over the forces of nature and the endeavors of humanity. They recognise themselves and are recognised through their different numbers and colors which are their marks, and each has their own favorite foods and other things which they like to receive as offerings and gifts. In this way we make our offerings in the manner they are accustomed to, in the way they have always received them, so that they will recognise our offerings and come to our aid.

The orishas are often best understood by observing the forces of nature they rule over. For instance, you can learn much about Oshún and her children by watching the rivers and streams she rules over and observing that though she always heads toward her sister Yemayá (the Sea) she does so on her own circuitous route. Also observe how the babbling brook and the flash flood reflect her changeable moods. As you observe the orishas at work in the world and in your own lives you will gain a better understanding of them and their ways. Yes, they are complex, but no more so than any other living being such as you or I. We are also blessed from time to time in the religion with the opportunity to meet the orishas face to face during a wemilere (drumming ceremony) where one or more of their priests will be mounted (see trance possession).


Elegguá is the owner of the roads and doors in this world. He is the repository of ashé. The colors red and black or white and black are his and codify his contradictory nature. In particular, Elegguá stands at the crossroads of the human and the divine, as he is child-like messenger between the two worlds. In this role, it is not surprising that he has a very close relationship with the orisha of divination, Orunmila. Nothing can be done in either world without his permission. Elegguá is always propitiated and called first before any other orisha as he opens the door between the worlds and opens our roads in life. He recognises himself and is recognised by the numbers 3 and 21.

Prayer for Eleggua: Echu obá loná tosí gbogbo ona iré o aché


Ogún is the god of iron, war and labor. He is the owner of all technology and because this technology shares in his nature, it is almost always used first for war. As Elegguá opens the roads, it is Ogún that clears the roads with his machete. He is recognised in the numbers 7 and the colors green and black.

Prayer for Ogun: Ogún oko dara obaniché aguanile ichegún iré


Oshosi is the third member of the group known as the Guerreros or Warriors, and is received along with Elegguá, Ogún and Osun in order to protect the Guerreros initiate and to open and clear their roads. Oshosi is the hunter and the scout of the orishas and assumes the role of enforcer of justice for Obatalá with whom he has a very close relationship. His colors are blue and yellow.

Prayer for Ochossi: Ochosi Ode mata obá akofá ayé o unsó iré o wa mi Ochosi omode aché


Obatalá is the kindly father of all the orishas and all humanity. He is also the owner of all heads and the mind. Though it was Olorun who created the universe, it is Obatalá who is the creator of the world and humanity. Obatalá is the source of all that is pure, wise peaceful and compassionate. He has a warrior side though through which he enforces justice in the world. His color is white which is often accented with red, purple and other colors to represent his/her different paths. White is most appropriate for Obatalá as it contains all the colors of the rainbow yet is above them. Obatalá is also the only orisha that has both male and female paths.

Prayer for Obatala: Obatalá obá layé ela iwo alara aché


Oyá is the ruler of the winds, the whirlwind and the gates of the cemetery. Her number is nine which recalls her title of Yansá or “Mother of Nine” in which she rules over the egun or dead. She is also known for the colors of maroon, flowery patterns and nine different colors. She is a fierce warrior who rides to war with Shangó (sharing lightning and fire with him) and was once the wife of Ogún.


Oshún rules over the sweet waters of the world, the brooks, streams and rivers, embodying love, fertility. She also is the one we most often approach to aid us in money matters. She is the youngest of the female orishas but retains the title of Iyalode or great queen. She heals with her sweet waters and with honey which she also owns. She is the femme fatale of the orishas and once saved the world by luring Ogún out of the forests using her feminine wiles. And,in her path or manifestation of Ibú Ikolé she saved the world from draught by flying up to heaven (turning into a vulture in the process). Ikolé means Messenger of the House (of Olodumare). For this reason all who are to be initiated as priests, no matter what orisha rules their head, must go to the river and give account of what they are about to do. She recognises herself in the colors yellow and gold and her number is five. Peacocks and vultures are hers and we use them often to represent her.


Yemayá lives and rules over the seas and lakes. She also rules over maternity in our lives as she is the Mother of All. Her name, a shortened version of Yeyé Omo Eja means “Mother Whose Children are the Fish” to reflect the fact that her children are uncountable. All life started in the sea, the amneotic fluid inside the mother’s womb is a form of sea where the embryo must transform and evolve through the form of a fish before becoming a human baby. In this way Yemayá displays herself as truly the mother of all. She partakes of Olokun’s abundance as the source of all riches which she freely gives to her little sister Oshún. She dresses herself in seven skirts of blue and white and like the seas and profound lakes she is deep and unknowable. In her path of Okutti she is the queen of witches carrying within her deep and dark secrets. Her number is seven for the seven seas, her colors are blue and white, and she is most often represented by the fish who are her children.

Prayer for Yemaya: Iyá eyá ayaba okun omá iré gbogbo awani Iyá


Perhaps the most ‘popular’ of the orishas, Shangó rules over lightning, thunder, fire, the drums and dance. He is a warrior orisha with quick wits, quick temper and is the epitomy of virility. Shangó took the form of the fourth Alafin (supreme king) of Oyó on Earth for a time. He is married to Obba but has relations with Oyá and Oshún. He is an extremely hot blooded and strong-willed orisha that loves all the pleasures of the world: dance, drumming, women, song and eating. He is ocanani with Elegguá, meaning they are of one heart. When sees the quickness with which lightning makes short work of a tree or a fire rage through an area, one has witnessed the temper of Shangó in action. Though he traded the Table of Ifá to Orunmila in exchange for the gift of dance, his children have an innate ability for divination. To acknowledge the greatness of this king, all in the religion raise up on the toes of our feet (or rise out our chairs if we are sitting) at the mention of his name. His colors are red and white and he recognises himself in the numbers four and six. He is most often represented by a double headed axe.

Prayer for Shango: Shangó obá adé oko, obá ina, Alafin Oyó aché o


Orunmila is the orisha of wisdom, knowledge and divination. He was the only orisha allowed to witness the creation of the universe by Olorun and bears witness to our destinies in the making as well. This is the source of his title of Eleri Ipin or “Witness to Destiny in its Creation”. His priests, the babalawos or “Fathers of the Secrets” must devote themselves entirely to the practice of divination and the accompanying arts. Through the Table of Ifá his priests unfold the secrets of the universe and the secrets of the unfolding of our lives. His colors are green and yellow which reflect Orunmila’s relationship with Osayín (the secrets of the plant world) and with Oshún, who is his apetebí with whom he has an extremely close relationship.

Prayer for Orunmila: Orunmila Ibikeyi Oludumare ela isode aché

Share this: » Share»

» Facebook» Email» » Twitter» Reddit» » StumbleUpon» Digg» » Press This» Like this:★Like Loading...


Thursday, March 07, 2013


from the Nation Newspaper

» Behold ‘Babalawo’ in America
Behold ‘Babalawo’  in America

Behold ‘Babalawo’ in America

The world has truly become small. Abdulrafiu Lawal, in the United States of America visits a ‘Babalawo’ and reports on his encounter.
The gray staircase banister leading to the five bedroom house smells of fresh paint. As he opens the kitchen door and murmurs ifa poems in Yoruba laced in American accent, the neatness of the kitchen and scent of rose air freshener is convivial. Moving through the passage to the divination room, one needs to remove shoes before proceeding further. On the right is a black wooden shelf containing books on Ifa authored by scholars from all over the world. On top of this shelf are a black gong, pictures and ifa divination chain, known as opele.
Unlike the room of an ifa priest in Nigeria, this room has no strange wall hangings. In the middle of the room there is a rug, two small chairs facing each other, a small table between and some ifa paraphernalia. On the table is a divination tray carved from wood known as Opon ifa containing divination powder (Iyerosun), carved Ivory object used to invoke ifa during divination (Iroke) and cowrie shells (Eerindinlogun). Welcome to the home of Tony Vandermeer, an African American ifa priest known as babalawo located in Dorchester area of Boston,Massachusetts,United States of America.
Vandermeer, an enigmatic character in many ways hails from Harlem, New York, a predominantly black settlement, famous for producing a generation of black intellectuals. He comes from a family of seven. Coincidentally, he also has seven children, five boys and two girls. This is unusual in America where most families do not have more than three children.
Unlike most Americans, he does not celebrate Christmas, Easter or any of the Christian holidays. Rather, he observes the ifa new year (odun ifa) and other celebrations recognised by his religion. He is known for his ifa practice throughout New England and beyond by his students and clients. New England is a region in the northeastern corner of United States consisting of six states namely Maine,Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts .
Why would someone in America need the services of an ifa priest?
One of his clients, Yvette Modestin, a social worker and coordinator for Network for Afro Latin American and Afro Caribbean Women says divination allows her to understand the sequence of events unfolding in her life. “ I have been in the position where ifa divination has spoken directly to a situation that I was in. I actually find it hard to explain because it is an internal thing that happens, that validates the next step you are about to make.’’
According to Modestin, “ Ifa has become my voice and whisper because I felt like my ancestors were speaking to me. I had tapped into something that was deeper than me. This is what has been calling me and what I need in my life.’’
For Askia Toure, a 73-year old writer, poet and political activist who comes for divination when his mind is troubled, ifa has shaped his direction in life. ‘’Ifa is a blessing for me because I get the right answers. I grew up in the African American church, my father was a deacon. Then, I had influence of Sunni Islam. My whole life has been a search for how best to communicate with my creator. After a very traumatic experience in my life, I met (Prof) Wande Abimbola.”
Prof Abimbola, a former vice chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife is a world renowned ifa scholar.
Similar to what obtains in Nigeria, African Americans, Latinos, Jamaicans, Cubans or Brazilians in America who believe in it , consult an ifa priest when searching for jobs, setting up a new business, failed marriages and other challenges of life.
Bridgit Brown, an African American blogger and writer in Boston says she had an ifa divination when she was going to work in West Africa for the first time a few years ago. She wanted to know how the journey will be and the divination revealed that it will be a major success.
“ And it was. It also told me to be mindful of the importance of ordinary things, and to not just see wealth in terms of money, but in terms of having those things which are of basic needs: food, shelter, love, and so on, which is very contrary to the American way that I grew up knowing.’’
The method of divination for Vandermeer’s clients is also similar to that of Nigerian ifa priests. All a client needs is to give a small consultation fee, whisper his intentions on it and Vandemeer consults ifa for answers. For him, ifa divination is a vehicle to help the society rather than an avenue for material gains. “This is why I have no fixed price for divination. I have students who come with coins or a dollar from their pockets. I tell people who come to see me that if they are doing well, I am happy to be part of it.’’
He says some of qualities he has learnt from ifa in dealing with clients are honesty and patience. “No divination can bless one unless one’s ori (godhead) accepts it. It is a two prong process involving divination and sacrifice (ebo). So, if you are not gonna go through the process, don’t even bother. This is because the idea of sacrifice concretizes what is it you came for and manifests.’’
First Contact with Ifa
Vandermeer recalls his first contact with traditional African religion in 1978 when he was about graduating from the University. “Things were kind of rough, I was having problems with the mother of my daughter. I went to an Obatala priest for divination which enabled me to get through these problems but things got worse in 1983’’. The priest was of Jamaican ancestry who got initiated through the Cuban system and was part of the African Americans who set up the poipular Oyotunji Village in South Carolina.
In 1983, sensing that his life had not really changed for the better, the father of seven met some Cubans who introduced him to their own form of ifa practice. He was given a caudron,beads of various deities (awon orisa),Esu and Osanyin. Still not fulfilled, Vandermeer left the Cuban house in 1994 when he met a Nigerian, Afolabi Epega, whose father had written a book on ifa.
The turning point
However, his romance with ifa took a turning point when he met Wande Abimbola, who is spokesperson for Babalawos worldwide (Awise Awo Ni Agbaye) in the Unites States.
“I began classes on the ancestors, orisas and ifa for four years. I knew more than I have ever thought which necessitated my doing a serious study around ifa’’, says Vandermeer.
Comparing the Cuban system with the Nigerian style of ifa practice, he says studying under Abimbola who has a long history with the religion and a linguist made him understand the ifa philosophy. “Like the notion of iwa pele (good character and humility) which set the tempo for my getting deeper in terms of practice. Though the Cuban system was based on the Nigerian practice, not being familiar with Spanish made it more difficult studying under Cubans.’’
Like the proverbial journey of a thousand mile beginning with a step, getting his first hand of ifa signaled his sojourn to the esoteric and spiritual world of ifa priests. Vandermeer ended up studying with Abimbola for 12 years. “If people come for divination, I would help or any kind of spiritual work like ebo (sacrifice). At this point, he (Abimbola) had set up the Ifa Institute in Atlanta where people were coming to see him.’’ This culminated in his initiation in Oyo in 1999, adding that when he got involved, his mission was to use the ifa “to get the kind of spiritual balance and guide that I need to navigate the challenges of life’’ but his destiny decided otherwise.
Like adherents of Islam and Christianity, who observe their morning prayers before leaving the house, Vandermeer begins his day chanting ifa verses,odus and ancestral chants for Egungun and throwing kolanuts before Esu. The essence is for him to have an idea how the day will be and may determine what his schedule will look like . “ If it is caution and I don’t have to go out,I will stay indoors. If I have to, I will be cautious.’’
He says going to Nigeria where he was in seclusion as part of the initiation process made him appreciate how ifa related to his character, that of other people and the notion of sacrifice. “ The notion of ori, were concepts that makes a lot of sense, stories around Esu and the idea of being able to reconstruct your life. Someone in a bad situation can be better if he makes efforts. That is why the Esu is on the opon ifa and the in the ebo (sacrifice), Esu gets something’’.
Why would an educated, widely travelled African American choose to become an ifa priest? Vandermeer says before embracing the religion he had developed a sense of himself as a descendant of Africa. “So it made sense to me that my spiritual system should be one that related to Africa.’’
However, he makes a distinction between his relationship to ifa and its relationship to Nigeria stressing that he was not tracing his roots to Nigeria. Though, his parents are all from the United States, he believes they have links to Ghana and Sierra Leone.‘
Stressing that some may dispute his claim of being an African, he supports his claims with the statement of Malcom X that “putting puppies in” the oven, does not make them biscuits.’ So as Africans, just because trans-Atlantic slave trade brought us here does not make us less Africans. For me, exploring ifa as one of the gifts of Africa, the birth place of civilisation,you see the richness in terms of its value systems and philosophy which intrigues me.’’
Ifa divination system and religion associated with Yoruba history is common in most cultures in West Africa and later Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, Jamaica, Colombia,Mexico and Venezuela due to the trans Atlantic slave trade.The divination system uses an extensive corpus of texts and mathematical formula interpreted by the diviner.
In the United States, Prof. Abimbola has given it so much prominence through his works especially in the last two decades. Its philosophy centres around belief in Olodumare, the Yoruba high God, humility and honesty. Statistics from the Council for Parliament of the World Religions estimates that ifa religion has over 70 million followers in Africa and the Americas.
In 2005, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed ifa as one of the 86 traditions of the world to be regarded as masterpieces of oral and intangible heritage of humanity. By this proclaimation,ifa joined the league of heritage elements that require urgent measures by the state to preserve it. Abimbola, on the other hand, has become an ambassador of sort conveying the message of religious tolerance around the world including a visit to the pope.
Ifa, like any other thing coming to America from Africa, is associated with some negative stereotypes such as voodoo or something primitive. But to Vandermeer those stereotypes have not discouraged him in any way because history rewards those who research it. “We live in western imperialist society which played a role historically in slave trade and being part of society of people trying to dominate African people. Part of colonialism says what the coloniser does is right and the colonised whatever they do is wrong. So, their belief in god is wrong but their belief in the coloniser’s god is correct.’’
He describes the negative strand around ifa like blood sacrifice, witchcraft and devil worship as nothing but imperialists’ propaganda. He emphasises that research done by many scholars around the world has proved that ifa is more valid than many other belief systems. “I have studied how Christian missionary society used its relationship with those in power to convince people that Christianity was the way and not to believe in their own indigenous belief system’’, he says.
Working as an ifa diviner in America is not without challenges especially language, says Vandermeer. “We as babalawos in the Diaspora especially North America don’t have that type of learning community that exists in Nigeria. This is one of our dilemmas, how do we build communities among practitioners so that we are able to learn and share more knowledge around ifa’’. As a way out, he had to get people who understand Yoruba language to help him out.
He notes that another challenge is learning the odu and ese ifa in English which is kind of problematic. Stressing that Nigeria has a stronger apprenticeship model where a young person goes to live and study with the babalawo. Though, he says this does not make them inferior to other babalawos but a mere difference in cultural context.
“ We are at a unique place because we understand the culture here. When we look at ifa as a people here, we are able to relate those circumstances in relation to ifa. The babalawos in Nigeria are at a higher level in terms of history as some know five or six generations of their families involved in ifa”, he said. Another challenge is sourcing herbs because the country has laws protecting forest reserves. In this case, he relies on his contacts in Nigeria for help especially from Prof. Abimbola.
As a way to expand knowledge of ifa, Vandermeer formed a study group of 24 people consisting of young and the old who meet once a week to learn ifa songs,chants and the orishas.
Another unique difference between Ifa diviners in the US like Vandermeer and Nigeria is that they have paid jobs through which they feed their families. He is a senior lecturer in the department of African American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and working towards his doctorate degree.
Passing it to the next generation
In keeping with the African culture of maintaining family traditions by passing it to off- springs, Vandermeer is grooming his 13 year old daughter, Adetutu, whose name rituals was performed by Prof. Abimbola.
Like a Muslim or Christian preacher will call the name of God before doing anything, Adetutu, laced with innocence and oblivious of the challenges of becoming a success story as a black person in America chants “ifa lo loni, ifa lo lola,ifa lo lotunla pelu e” before answering the reporter’s questions. “ Every morning, I get my kolanut(Obi abata),some water , recite my odu ifa and throw it to the ground, that is how I say my prayers. My friends in school do not know ifa is my religion, but they notice I wear different Yoruba clothes especially on Fridays’’, she says. At her age, she already knows how to interpret the message of ifa when kolanut is thrown and helps her father in doing sacrifice (ebo) for clients.
Her mother’s name at birth was Maria Clemencia but in 2003 became Fatuma Atoke, after her initiation, says the hospital staff were surprised when they refused to give her a name immediately after Adetutu was born which is the usual practice in America. “Over 200 people attended her naming at our home with Baba Wande Abimbola presiding. The hospital asked us why we had to wait to have a gathering. I told them this is the way we want to do it.’’
Challenges facing African Americans
For African Americans who believe in ifa, it goes beyond being a guide to resolve the puzzle of life but partly an answer to racism and something to give them a true a sense of belonging . Also their relationship with Africans from the mother continent has been saddled with tension and mistrust.
Toure who pioneered the African American and Black studies programme in the US at San Francisco State University in 1968 says it has been a struggle to maintain a small bit of their African heritage. “The racist colonialists claimed the African was sub-human and a little more advanced than the ape. Ifa gives us a common way of thinking, looking at the universe and ancestral grounding for those us in the Diaspora and our brethren in the mother continent. We in the Diaspora can be viewed as the lost tribes who have been re-linking with motherland and re-establishing respect for African traditional religion and spirituality.’’
For Modestin, who has spoken at the African Union (AU) , United Nations (UN) and travelled all over Latin America, coming to the United States made her realise the excruciating effect of racism. She says this experience compounded her problems because “you are told you are not black enough because you were not born here and you are not Latino enough because am black.’’
Ayoka Onifade, a mother of two whose name before her conversion to ifa religion was Maura Gaines, says it has enabled her to redefine herself. “ My conversion has given me a stronger sense of identity around being an African woman. This has a different political ideology because the sense of being hyphenated African-American, like what does it mean ? When I was initiated in Oyo, I felt I was home. It changes who you are and how you see the world’’.
Onifade was initially a Christian, moved to Cometic religion and then converted to ifa. She and her husband also had the only Yoruba ifa wedding in New England conducted by Abimbola. Her two children Oyade and Ifatayo,aged nine and 11 respectively had their life story divined by Prof. Abimbola and their names were chosen from the odus.
Though,Onifade has not been able to trace her roots to any country in Africa,she would love to go back to live in Nigeria. “ I have committed myself to ifa and Yoruba culture, hence I will feel more comfortable in Nigeria. When I came back to the US, I was homesick for three weeks. It was difficult to re-acclamatise because I felt I was home. I had a profound experience in Nigeria,’’ she confessed. Vandermeer captures the plight of African Americans more succinctly.
“ Here, in the African American community that we have been stolen from our native countries. Our languages have been stripped from us; we are made to believe we are somebody else. And we still suffer from a different level of oppression”, he says.
Askia Toure and Modestin believe ifa can be used to unite Africans in the mother continent and the Diaspora. “This could be a way for us to begin to understand each other a lot better. This could be a place to validate ourselves within ourselves in a way that we would not get in other platforms,’’ she says.
Counting his blessings, Vandermeer says studying under Prof. Abimbola is a “transforming’’ experience and ifa has made him a “seeker of knowledge’’. This is because he is now interested in learning many languages fluently like Japanese Akida,Spanish, Suriname and Cape Verdean Creole as well as Yoruba.
Print Friendly


  1. Ifafunmike Osunbumi-Alake Oyegbade
    I am very happy you wrote this article sir, it’s vetu important for America to understand our esu of life. I too sm born African American, (Monica Thurmon), I also know your Oluwo Awise Ambimbola, ( I had dafa done by him) he is a great and kind man. I was initiated in Osogbo, to Ifa (Iyanifa) 1996. Instruction has been difficult for me also, Ifa on the other hand the great communicator, is always available in time of need. Ifa agbe wa ooo.
  2. Ifa is our Heritage, our Heritage is our Life; Ifa is our Religion, our Religion is our Essence; Ifa is our Culture, our Culture is our Identity.