Sankofa. It means to go back.
To give thanks and praises to the Creator, regardless of the name in which we call Him/Her.
To remember our ancestors, we know not by name, and their ultimate sacrifice.
To remember our recent ancestors, and the wisdom their lives left behind.
To reflect on where we have been, to be clearer on where we are headed.
This is my personal diary of the last decade of experiences with attending Sankofa: The Caravan to the Ancestors, hosted by the Houston Chapter of the National Black United Front….and how these experiences changed my life.
The intent of this is not only to inspire all who have attended a Sankofa: Caravan to the Ancestors to share their their stories, but to bring an artistic and literary perspective to the history of this ceremony. The art of storytelling has long been a part of ancestral tradition.
2017’s diary gives my reflection of some of my first days on the road of Iyalosa…reborn as iiiYansa… Hear the audio version of these diaries infused with old skool music and other mystic teachings on 222.9 The Mothership Internet Radio, and read the written part of this diary on www.poeticallymused.org/echoesoflegacy.
Pataki. Oni mi Ojo Abameta, Owara Mokanlelogbon, Odun Egbawa Metadilogun
Ogbun ojo Ogba Ooru.
Translate: Diary. Today is Saturday, October 21th, 2017, 30 days into Autumn Equinox.
The day vibrated on a 5, a day of releasing to the fullness of self.
The Moon was waxing in the 8th house of Scorpio.
It was a 1 year, ideal for new beginnings.
Iyalosa Iyansa Ogbo Funimole, a new name for my new being. I was a newborn Iyalosa, so amazed with this journey. In retrospect, it all made a deeper sense to me why the Sankofa: The Caravan to the Ancestors was soooooo important to me. Oya is the mother of the ancestors, and I was not only Her daughter, but one of Her priestesses. I had never been more sure of anything in my entire life. I was so sure I didn’t breathe a word to anyone until my ceremonies were complete. The first person I told was my mother. I was nervous on how to break the news that I had fully converted faiths, granted that my ancestral lineage was full of deacons and pastors of the Baptist Christian faith. To my surprise, she decided to come with me to Sankofa.
This year, I attended the Caravan with my new ile. My mother got to meet my new spiritual family, (Remember the Ifa/Ogun priest, and the Ifa/Yemonja priestess I was following around last year? Yes, them.)and we headed to Galveston as a separate group from the NBUF Caravan. When we got to the water, everything looked…new, as if I had never seen the sky or the water before. I felt as light as the wind. The beginning part of the ceremony was filled with blessings from elder priestesses and reunion embraces from whose who came the year before. I saw my dear Nana Sula Spirit, even more beautiful in all of her divine essence.
It was quite hilarious to see my mother’s skepticism melt away when the drums took over. When she went over to the drum circle, oh, it was over! Her ancient essence really took over, because I didn’t know she had the moves she was busting still in her! As I danced in the circle of joko, my dance became a dance of the wind. I could even see ancestral spirits out of the corners of my eyes. My senses were on turbo, and Oya was clearly having fun with Her new baby priestess.
As I do every year I go to Sankofa, I took my walk alone for stillness and reflection. This year, something deep happened. When the winds picked up, my spirit surrendered. The sound of the wind was so loud, She drowned out the drums.
I could hear them, a symphony of sounds coming from the ocean.
I could hear the screams of my ancestors I knew not by name, tossing and turning while packed like spoons on a cargo ships.
I could feel the boats rocking and reeling.
I could see Olokun’s floor where many jumped to the ancestor realm from the ships.
I could smell the stench of waste and death aboard the ships.
I could see the auction blocks.
I could hear the ones who were already here on “American” soil, chanting their invocations to Nature in gratitude before the colonizers came.
I could hear the wails of families being separated and sold.
I could hear the cries of the raped.
I could hear the whips cracking, the dogs barking, the racial slurs.
I could see the cooks who poisoned the slave owners.
I could hear the war cries of the enslaved who revolted.
I could see our ancient practices being done while well hidden in church.
I saw the white and colored only signs.
I could hear the freedom fighters on the bullhorns.
I could hear the music created from pain.
I saw the faces of ancestral genius.
Lastly came a vision of the offering I made in 2010, the piece of paper. I saw it come back to me, full of my marching orders from Spirit. I felt my tongue swell, my hands pulse. I came to. “Roger that,” I whispered to the ocean, and came back to the crowd. I under, over, inner, and aroundastood Sankofa: The Caravan to the Ancestors on another level.
This was the first Sanfoka that carried me to one of Oya’s main domains: the cemetery. We went to one of Galveston’s most historic cemeteries, Rosewood. I honored Her there too, and it quickly became a Sankofa yearly tradition for me. From this point forward, I’d visit the cemetary(Oya) before coming to the water(Yemoja/Olokun).
Ase in Love,
iiiYansaje T. Muse