Central Africa in the Caribbean



Religious Cosmology & Praxis



Religion & World-View



Religions : Mediating Agencies



Manipulative Power : Ritual



Ritual Eikones





Religion & World-View


p. 139 Occidental terminology

"Central African religion ... has attracted to it Western terminology such as "fetishism", "magic", "sorcery" and in the Caribbean, "obeah"."

p. 140 process-nature of existence

"The interplay and complementarity ... is fundamental in traditional African perpectives on existence; linked to this is a consciousness of "the processual nature of being" (Menkiti 1979, p. 158), so that oppositions ... interact along a continuum of approximations which eventually intersect. ... This mirror imaging that is, simultaneously, the refraction of opposites, is codified in Koongo by the figure called diyowa or tendwa, which concretizes the cosmos ... . ... This relationship, in turn, is polyvalent, since it ... differentiates "the domestic realm", the human community ..., from that of the wilds, the watery depths, spirit spaces and trade routes (Janzen 1982, 285, 291)."

Menkiti 1979 = Ifeanyi Menkiti : "Person and Community in African Traditional Thought". In :- Richard Wright (ed.) : African Philosophy. Washington (DC) : Univ Pr of America. pp. 157-68.

Janzen 1982 = John Janzen : Lemba, 1650-1930. NY : Garland Publ.

p. 141 redincarnation

"Bantu world view holds ... energy as the essence of being, and that this spiritual dynamism is in continuous interplay in the universe (Tempels [1959], 52, 58-59). ... The latency of force therefore predisposes a world view of the revitalization of force, whether in the primal cause, or in humans, animals, plants and minerals, living and departed. As such, "spirits of the dead ... seek to enter into contact with the living and to continue living function upon earth" (p. 65)."

Tempels 1959 = Placide Tempels (transl. by Colin King from the French transl. by A. Rubbens of the Dutch original) : Bantu Philosophy. Paris : Pre'sence Africaine. [reprinted 1969]



Religions : Mediating Agencies


p. 350, n. 6:4 religions in Brazil derived from Central Africa

"One of these is Angola Candomble, in which the deities are called inquices, a Portuguese rendering of nkisi.

Another is Umbanda, deikcated to ancestor veneration, and most strongly represented in "Rio de Janeiro, from where it has sp;read to the States of Minas Gerais and Sa[~]o Paulo. ... Umbanda ... is

"(1) The faculty, science, art, office, business (a) of healing by means of ... supernatural medicine (charms); (b) of divining the unknown by consulting the shades of the deceased, or the genii ...; (c) of inducing these human and non-human spirits to influence men and nature ... .

(2) The forces at work in healing, divining, and in the influence of spirits.

(3) The objects (charms) which ... establish and determine the connection between the spirits and the physical world" (Chatelain 1894, 268)."

Chatelain 1894 = Heli Chatelain : Folk-Tales of Angola ... with Ki-Mbundu Text ... . Boston : Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

pp. 141-2 nanga

p. 141

"Nganga denotes "a ... prophet, seer, visionary ..." (Bockie 1993, 67). An ndoki accesses kindoki, "the art of exercising unusual powers" (p. 41). ...

The making of a Koongo nganga begins when an "nkisi would overtake with a powerful ecstasy at a watercourse or elsewhere a person for whom it conceived a liking". The entranced person might stay away for about nine days, after which she or he would return home with an nkisi

p. 142

in hand. ... If the core object had fallen from the sky, for example, ... a piece of mica which was thought to have come with the lightning, "then a sky-nkisi isTempels : composed. If the object is from water or land, it will, accordingly be a water-nkisi or a land-nkisi". ... Another scenario for the creation of an nganga is that an ancestral nkisi-spirit may reveal itself to a relative in a dream ... . Again, there is the pattern of an ecstatic individual finding an object and rushing to the village with it, but the individual stands in kin relationship to the deceased nganga (Laman 1962, 3:68)."

Bockie 1993 = Simon Bockie : Death and the Invisible Powers. Bloomington : IN Univ Pr.

Laman 1962 = Karl Laman : The Kongo, Vol. 3. Uppsala : Studia Ethnographica Upsaliensis.

pp. 142-3 induction of woman into priestesshood

p. 142

"she encountered a silk cotton tree ... and remained there in trance

for twenty-one days,

{Actions are repeated "twenty-one times" (BFRJ, p. 65) in Japanese ritual.}

during which time she neither ate nor spoke. But she had visions and was spoken to by ancestral voices ... . ... After twenty-one days ... she became possessed by an ancestral

p. 143

spirit (... Warner-Lewis 1977 ...)."

BFRJ = Madhavi Kolhatkar & Musashi Tachikawa : Buddhist Fire Ritual in Japan. National Mus of Ethnology, Osaka, 2012. http://ir.minpaku.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/10502/4690/1/SER105_001.pdf

Warner-Lewis 1977 = Maureen Warner-Lewis : "Nkuyu : Spirit-Messengers of the Kumina". SAVACOU 13:57-79

p. 144 the dead

The "deceased excells the living in strength and power ... . He has the spirit of the wind, a shape in the likeness of Nzambi and his strength; for this reason many refer to the corpse as nzambi" (Laman 1962, 3:24)."

"in Manyanga n'kuyu refers to 'ancestor' and nyumba is reserved for 'ghost'. Kuyu is the referential term for 'ancestral spirits' among members of the Kumina religion in Jamaica".

p. 145 Bongo religion in Jamaica

"the Convince religion of the island's eastern parishes ..., also called Bongo, is ... a ... religion ... carried out by individual "Bongo men" ... . Bongo men become possessed by ghosts of earlier Bongo men ... .

"The most powerful Bongo ghosts come from Africa, but the ghosts of ... the Maroons (descendants of runaway slaves) who perpetuated the cult ... are also of importance. ..." (Simpson 1978, 100). ... In Jamaican parlance, a ghost is referred to as a ... "duppy", ... from Twi dopi 'spirit of the dead'.

The ghosts welcomed into Convince ceremonies are of persons who practiced magical rituals in their lifetime. These ... are expected to teach the living Bongo man "spiritual secrets, protect him, bring him good fortune, and assist him in performing magic (Obeah)". ... To fulfill ... religious obligations, the Bongo man holds ... memorial services on the anniversary of the death of past members, and ceremonies ... to thank them for help (pp. 100-1)." [p. 350, n. 6:15 : "Convince-type religion originated among the Maroons." (Hogg 1960, p. 4)]

Simpson 1978 = George Simpson : Black Religions in the New World. NY : Columbia Univ Pr.

Hogg 1960 = Donald Hogg : The Convince Cult in Jamaica. YALE UNIV PUBL IN ANTHROPOLOGY, 58.

p. 145 the 4 denominations of palo {'stick, rod, wand'} religion in Cuba

religious denomination

its location in Cuba

Mayombe (Palo Monte)

Matanzas province

Briyumba Congo


Kimbisa & Kimfwiti

Pin~ar del Ri`o province

p. 146 nationalities of the Kumina religion

"In Kumina ... the membership ... are called the "Bongo nation",

and include such ethnic sub-groups as

Muyanji (Yansi), Munchundi (Nsundi), Mumbaka (Mbaka) and

Mondongo, the latter referring to the Ndongo of Angola."

p. 147 mayaal spirit-possession caerimony of Bongo and of Kumina

"The ... relationship between the two religions ... is evident in their common matrix in the east of Jamaica, and the co-occurrence of the words such as mayaal, signifying an intense state of spirit possession, ... in both sects. ... Kumina musical accompaniment is based on drums, whereas that for Convince involves ... stick percussion. ...

In Kumina, it is the immigrant ancestors who return to enjoy themselves in the bodies of the bodies of the living, and who give advice to the community's descendants. "The express purpose of any serious Kumina ceremony ... is ... contact with the ancestral dead through possession of living dancers by their spirits" (Bilby and Bunseki 1983, 6). "You have to play the drum [so] that all the old Africans dead [become willing] to come. ... That [is] a bongo mayaal spirit. ... old Africans ... ride you [u]pon you[r] head. ..." ... .

When a mayaal "bites" a person, possession takes the kinetic form "of a series of long steps followed by vibrating side-wise movements and wheeling turns and sudden stops with pelvic forward tilt". Also characteristic are "back bending, rolling over in a succession of somersaults and climbing high coconut trees" (Baxter 1970, 138-39)."

Bilby & Bunseki 1983 = Kenneth Bilby & Fu-Kiau Bunseki : Kumina : a Kongo-Based Tradition in the New World. Brussels : Centre d'E'tude et de Documentation Africaines.

Baxter 1970 = Ivy Baxter : The Arts of an Island : ... Jamaica, 1494-1962 ... . Metuchen (NJ) :Scarecrow Pr.

p. 148 instructions are received in dreaming

"[There are] dreams ... through which instructions are given to the living. "A dream resembles a diviner who relates future events" (Laman 1962, 3:7)."

pp. 148-51 saraka & dugu dance-festivals

p. 148

"In Trinidad, the main Koongo communal religious ritual ... was ... referred to ... by the Koongo word kumbi. ...

p. 149

In Trinidad, saraka ... was held annually. ... Meals included yamatuta [yellow yam] and sweet cassava ... . Kalulu -- the gumbo-like Trinidad dish -- was made from malanga, a type of dasheen, with ... gungoti [konkonte (Ga, Twi) cassava porridge] or cassava kuku with okra, and copious consumption of ginger beer. This ...

p. 150

ginger beer is ... crushed ginger roots in boiling water with sugar ... . The Trinidad saraka also had ... its drumming and singing ... Koongo songs ... . ...

p. 151

The women ... When possessed (... by ... spirits) ... shook their bodies and did bele steps. They moved their waists and shoulders ... . They would make a sudden curtsey while dancing ..., in Jamaican Kumina it is called salo ... .

The Trinidad description of the small steps accompanied by the movement of shoulders and waist

accords well with the dance style of the Kumina, which is a mincing shuffle ..., with the torso at a backward diagonal from the hips, which together with the shoulders agitate gracefully.

This choreography is replicated in the dance for the dugu ancestral commemoration of the Black Caribs, or Gari`funa ~ Gari`nugu of Belize, even involving the sudden forward torso thrust that

p. 152

marks the reversal of direction of the dancer's movement (... Kerns 1983, 157-64). Indeed, this relationship leads ... to ... possible relationship between the Gari`funa word dugu and the ndugu drum mentioned by Laman (1968, 4:70)."

Kerns 1983 = Virginia Kerns : Women and the Ancestors : Black Carib Kinship and Ritual. Urbana : Univ of IL Pr.

pp. 152-3 prenda & chalk

p. 152

"Another name for a cazuela or metal casserole which contains a number of ritual objects is a kindembo, an abstract term for an authority over a type of

p. 153

sacred power ... . The term is derived from ndembo or ... chalk".

p. 153 Nzambi Mpungu

"In Jamaica, the First Cause is called Zaambi ... Ampuungo ... . Zambi is one of the spirits of the Boni Maroons of French Guyane (Bastide [1967], 59). In Jamaica, Zaambi Ampuungo is linked to thunder, just as in Koongo, ... Nzambi is "credited with ..." manifesting in rain, thunder, lightning ... (Laman 1962, 3:55). Mpungu signifies "... supernatural or wonderful" (p. 60)."

Bastide 1967 = Roger Bastide (transl. by Peter Green) : African Civilisations in the New World.

p. 154 sun & moon

"The earth is ... the wife of the sun, Tangu. During the day, the sun would burn their children, so

Ngunda, the moon, ... gave earth dew at night,

{That the moon is the source of nightly-imparted dew, is a Chinese belief.}

while sun was asleep, and refreshed the earth.

In that way the plants did not dry up (Cabrera [1954], 119)."

{cf., perhaps, the "dew of the resurrection" mentioned in the Qabbalah}

Cabrera 1954 = Lydia Cabrera : El monte : igbo, finda, ewe orisha, vititi nfinda. La Habana : Ed. C. R., 1954. [reprinted 1975, Miami : Ediciones Universal; 1986, Miami : Coleccio`n de Chichereku`]

p. 155 Mbumba

[quoted from Hilton 1985, p. 13] "In the seventeenth century mbumba literally meant fecund, and the rites of the nkimba mbumba cult, which appealed to mbumba, appear to have concerned fertility."

"However, "certain ... sources consider mbumba to be ... one amongst many spirits" (Hilton 1985, 13) though among the Shongo sub-group of the Koongo, Bumba is the creator (Laman 1953, 1:13). Ma'bumba is one of the divinities of the Boni Maroons of French Guyane (Bastide [1967], 110)".

Hilton 1985 = Anne Hilton : The Kingdom of Kongo. Oxford Univ Pr.

Laman 1953 = Karl Laman : The Kongo, Vol. 1. Uppsala : Studia Ethnographica Upsaliensis.

Bastide 1967 = Roger Bastide (transl. by Peter Green) : African Civilizations in the New World.

p. 155 Simbi

"In the relatively dry areas south of the Congo River,

{i.e., in northern Angola}

nature spirits were known as simbi (Hilton 1985, 13) ... . The ... configuring of Simbi as a snake ... is the principle of Simbi-a-de-zo 'Simbi in two waters', which "straddles the waters above and the waters below the earth", and which correspond to

"the heavenly and the abyssal waters", or "the sweet and salt waters" (Deren [1953], 117)."

{Heavenly waters are rains of sweet water falling from the sky; abyssal waters are salty depths of the sea.}

p. 155 flying snake-deity

"the Ovimbundu ...

{on the Bie plateau, central Angola}

"regard the ndala snake with great awe, describing it as a magical serpent which dwelt high on the inaccessible slopes of mountains and could fly mysteriously through the air" (Miller 1976, 96)."

Miller 1976 = Joseph C. Miller : Kings and Kinsmen : Early Mbundu States in Angola. Oxford : Clarendon Pr.

p. 156 rainbow-serpent

"Mbumba Lwangu, the rainbow serpent ... patron of the Yombe KiNkimba initiation cult, in which it was represented by a double-headed statuette .... . ... in some myths he is opposed to Nsazi the thunder dog, a sky dweller (MacGaffey 1986, 79-80)."

p. 157 Petro

"Don Pedro was a Maroon ... . It is therefore possible that a Maroon ... deliberately took the name of the Koongo king as a reconstition of the type of spiritual Koongo kingdom".

{"Don is really "Dan" like in "Danbala", Dan-nan-Petro (and this is even plausible because both the lwa Don Pedro and his son Ti-Jean Petro have snake attributes); it could be some First Nation Taino or Arawak word we don't even know, that sounded a little like "Don Pedro", and so on." ("DPMR")}

{As a divine snake, the name /Dan/ could easily refer to the mythical tribe-eponym Dan, said in B-Re>s^it 49:17 to be a serpent (adder). But in Dbri^m 33:22, Dan is designated a lion's cub; and "Ahiezer substituted the eagle" ("LTD"; "4BI"), so that the serpent-enwrapped lion-headed winged Mithraic time-deity Khronos Aion ("L-HG") could be implied.}

"DPMR" = "Don Petro, from Mambo Racine". http://www2.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti-archive-new/msg12286.html

B-Re>s^it 49:17 http://biblehub.com/genesis/49-17.htm

Dbri^m 33:22

"LTD" = "Lost Tribe of Dan". http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/sociopol_tribeofdan.htm

"4BI" - "The Four Banners of Israel". http://www.biblefragrances.com/studies/fourbanners.html

"L-HG" = "Lion-Headed God". http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/mithras/display.php?page=Aion

{If the provenience of the name Koongo name /Dan/ be in the To^rah, then the name /PeTRO/ may well be derived from /PiTRO^n/ 'interpretation (scil., of a dream)' (Strong's 6623), /patar/ 'to interpret (a dream)' (Strong's 6622). If so, because interpretation of dream is variety of divulgence of a secret, therefore it would be relevant that the in the leaping of lion's cub from (Dbri^m 33:22) Bas^an : that country name is provided by Hellenistic geographers in the form "BATanaia", indicating /BATT/ 'to let in on a secret' (A-ED).}

Strong = Dictionary of Bible Words.

A-ED = J. M. Cowan : Arabic-English Dictionary.


Maureen Warner-Lewis : Central Africa in the Caribbean : Transcending Time, Transforming Cultures. Univ of West Indies Pr, Kingston (Jamaica), 2003.