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 @NBUF Houston ….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. 2022’s diary is divided into 3 parts: The Poem, Sankofa’s Eve, and Quarter of a Century.
This is part two…the Diary of the Sankofa Panel Discussion featuring Professor James Small and Mama Charlotte Hill O’Neal. It is called, “The Dance of the Whispered Symphony. It is and Ode to our ancestors. Enjoy! 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 Eti, Owara Merinlelogun, Odun Egbawa Mejilelogun, Merinlelogun awon ojo Igba Ooru.
Diary. Today is Friday, October 14th,2022, 16 days into Autumn Equinox.
The day vibrated on a 3, a day of Esu’s crossroad. The moon was waning in Gemini, one of His main signs. 2022…One big ass Oyeku, not to mention a phenomenal year to be a woman. The principles of major shift and contraction is real. The Divine feminine force is in full throttle. Iba se to The Mothers. I just celebrated my 5th year as Iyalosa on Tuesday, and 222.9 The Mothership is in its second year of orbit on the airwaves. Last weekend, I was a feature performing poet at The Speakeasy Comedy Lounge at Phil and Dereks. I am filled with gratitude…life is good.
NBUF was doing the most this year to celebrate 25 years of Sankofa, Caravan to the Ancestors! You know what? I was there for it! Lemme tell you ‘bout it. See, this is the year I was the most involved with helping facilitate some of the behind the scenes work in making the event possible. I rendered voice talent for the promos of all three events. 222.9 The Mothership featured an interview about the history of Sankofa with NBUF’s National Chair, Kofi Toharka. I felt so great rendering my skills to what was now a holiday to me. I even gained a new name…Twa Nation. Long Story.
On the first of October, held the first Pre-Caravan event. NBUF hosted a day party on a boat ride, one of four events in celebration of the Sankofa Caravan to the ancestors 25th anniversary. It was soooo much fun, complete with white and silver attire, lite bites, adult drinks, and lots of dancing. I made sure I sang to Yemonja, thanking Her for letting us have a party in Her house, and poured some liquor into the sea for the ancestors. We must remember they are everywhere.
The second event was a youth day and buy black marketplace at the NBUF house. I was unable to attend that one, though. I was already booked for the Speakeasy. That leads to tonight.
Its Sankofa’s Eve, and tonight, I was given the honor and the privilege of sharing yet another original poetry performance…but this was no speakeasy, but a speakdeep. The occasion? Sankofa Caravan to the Ancestors 25th year festivities! The Houston Chapter of the National Black United Front was hosting a panel discussion featuring Mama Charlotte Hill O’Neal, known to the orisa world as Iya Osotunde Fasuyi, and Professor James Small. This would be the second time I would perform for a Professor James Small discussion. The first was at the Shrine of the Black Madonna in 2020, the other
at the Historic Deluxe Theater in Houston’s Fifth Ward. The topic was how we as a people can make African Spirituality a practical part of our everyday lives. The night was moderated by Alicia Myles and Equality, a poetic mentor.
I was brought there by a young prince named Tevin, so the energy was already building on the way there. The vibe and the energy was high upon arrival. I love seeing our people move in royal regality. The attire for the night was black and silver, and interestingly, there was a black and white dog hanging around outside, greeting some of the folks, trying to get in the building. Even tried to sniff up my skirt…nasty puppy. Hmmm….last time I saw a black and white dog around caravan festivities was in 2018. But still I acknowledged Ogun’s messenger and made my way inside.
I brought along the plant of dark maroon leaves that was sacred to Oya, the Mother of the Ancestors. It was to be used for libations from a copper cup, the ritual itself performed by Oluwo Ifalade. She’d have it no other way, Oya I mean. When I went to greet Mama C, I felt as a shy child the closer I came to her. Even through the power of her aura, she was warm, welcoming, and kind. She started up the dancing as the drummers were getting into their groove. A few other women joined us, and it was on!
We grooved a bit before the panel began, and it helped me relax…
The whole energy of the room shifted when Baba James Small made his entrance…but Oya children tend to do that. By the time he entered, the room was filling up quickly. The whole thing was livestreamed, and I must admit I was a bit nervous. After libations by Baba Ifalade and opening remarks from Brother Kofi Takarka, I took the podium and performed a poetic ode to the ancestors titled
“The Whispered Symphony.”
There was an interruption in my performance though… a man in the crowd began reciting The Lord’s Prayer. I surrendered my ego, and paused my speaking until he was escorted out. I wasn’t offended, as I took it to mean that the energy of the poetry piece touched him in that way.
Two red thrones awaited Iya Mama C and Baba James Small center stage. The discussion was stimulating, thought provoking, and a few of the points made I had to jot down for further meditation and application. I recall gazing at the two of them in all of their wisdom, and thinking, I have a long way to go, but I’m so blessed to have come as far as I did. I felt gratitude to them for walking this road before I did, and leaving their footprints for me to follow.
When I returned home, I packed my bag for the main event to come in the dawn. Stones. Spikes. Fans. A bath towel….what did Spirit tell me to pack THAT for? Ok, bath towel. Irukere. Grandma’s Machete. Food for the birds. Eggplant. Molasses. My never-leave-home-without-it conjure box.
I then forged a crown of discs and mirrors, a creative way to rock silver while paying homage to ancestors of music. I made it to bed around 5am. Once again, I kept the tradition of no sleep the night before the Caravan. Happy Sankofa’s Eve.
Ase in Love,
iiiYansaje T. Muse