Sankofa 2022: Quarter of a Century

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 three…the Caravan to the Ancestors…29th and Seawall. This year’s Sankofa was nicknamed “The Invasion of the Body-Snatchers,” because of its high level of spiritual intensity! 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.

image by Mamisi

Pataki. Oni Mi Ojo Abameta, Owara Medogun, Odun Egbawa Mejilelogun,

Merinlelogbon Awon Ojo Igba Ooru.

Diary. Today is Saturday, October 15th, 2022, 16 days into Autumn Equinox.

5:55 am. An hour and some change of sleep. I rose, I cleansed, I adorned. My white attire this year was as a dancer, complete with the white ballet skirt and capri tights,purple sash and my crown of discs with mirrors. I knew I was going to need a bit more leg room this year, know what I mean? My ride came at 6:30am. She was my auntie/big sister, and a daughter of Yemoja. We set out before the official NBUF Caravan, but I bet their lawn ceremonies were amazing! I was just that I had some early rising ceremonies of my own. Ogun blessed us the with smooth roads to get there…straight to my mother Oya’s door. Galveston is full of historic cemeteries, so I stopped at one to greet Her. After that Divine moment, we headed to the water. On the way down to the beach, I passed out a few gifts…the stones, the spikes, the fan to all who they were intended to receive. There were people arriving, but the NBUF Caravan itself had yet to arrive. Yemonja wanted us close, I suppose. Our spirits led us to perch on a rock by the shore, and that was our spot for the day. We had breakfast, then fed the birds. Iba se Iyami. I went up the pier to give my prayers to Yemonja…and something interesting happened. I kissed the burlap and threw it to The Ocean. She caught it in a wave crash, and swiftly retracted it back. It disappeared, and I gave thanks. I loved the time we spent communing with nature while the beach was still quiet. It turned out to be just the charge I needed, because this was the Sankofa with the highest spiritual intensity in the history of attending. It was as always, a captivating sight to see for many passers-by. A few of them stopped me and asked what the ceremony was all about, even some who didn’t speak English still found a way to communicate. I was given the honor of painting the faces of the two elder sisters I danced with the night before. I gave them the silver love designs.

Yeye Osunbunmi Fagberno was emceeing, and Mama C spoke and danced again! Baba James Small poured libations, and the display silver display was amazing, complete with bags of offering and an ancestor wall. Yeye Oya was deep in the clergy numbers…from Iya Oyabunmi (Moi) to Nana Sula (Mami Wata Priestess, Omo Oya) Mambo Kalani(Haitian Voodou Priestess, Omo Oya), Iya Oyasoga, Iya Oyaremi,and Baba James Small. When Oya was called in the joko circle, She erupted from me in a tornado dance….black whisk in one hand, Grandma’s machete in the other one. Yaaaaaaasssssss……the spirit!

The Circle also featured martial arts, and an african dance troupe. The energy, while of high intensity was relaxed, and positive. Seeing my sista from anotha mista, Nana Sula Spirit was EVERYTHING!!!!

I served as one of two Oya Priestesses (the other one was Iya Oyasoga) that guarded the Door of Return Ceremony, led by Baba Ifalade. It was appropriate, granted that he created the Door of Return to add to the Caravan festivities. Lemme tell ya ‘bout the Door of Return, to clear up any misunderstanding of it. See, when our ancient ancestors were taken from the Motherland, they went through what was called “The Door of No Return.” This represented the beginning of the unspeakable voyage of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in which they would never see their homeland, families, or life as they knew it ever, ever again. The Door of Return represents a reversal of that per se, granted that we are but reincarnations of our ancestors. It represents a return to ancestral wisdom, ancestral honor, ancestral memory, ancestral wealth, and all things good about our ancestors that time in this land tried to erase from our memory. As the people took their offerings through the door, I silently prayed these affirmations for each and every one of them, as Nana Sula sang to the waters to raise the vibration even more. Ase.

The drums were their finest, and this is a very important detail that can easily be overlooked by untrained ears and eyes. See, the African drumming is the language of the Spirit, so powerful that it was once outlawed. Certain rhythms call to the certain spirits to come, and they did….in droves, thanks to this language of rhythm being the best it has ever been. The priests and priestessess worked well together in the midst of mass mounting. One mounting carried us to Yemonja’s shore, where unfortunately, my phone got wet. Uh-oh. By the time all the Sankofa ended, Yemonja called me into the water up to my neck….so I took my skirts off and took a whole bath in the ocean! So thiiiiis was why my Ori told me to pack a bath towel, and to wear dance tights under my skirt. Gotta love the blessings of honoring the Ori!

When we were leaving the beach, I tried to make a phone call using my phone. I could hear nothing, and the person I called could not hear me. Panic started setting in. I was told to put my phone in rice, but I gave my phone to Ogun instead. I powered it off, placed it on his altar, and asked for His help. I took an extra special cleansing bath, demolished a seafood feast, and let the deep slumber take its course. When I awoke, my phone was working as normal. Here’s to a quarter of a century! This year’s Sankofa was nicknamed “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” by NBUF….a nickname very fitting. Its a great thing to celebrate life in this manner, and I can’t wait to see what next year’s Sankofa holds!

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