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Mami Wata: The Scared Female African Water Goddess


Gorgeous, defensive, alluring, and possibly dangerous, the water spirit called Mami Wata (Mother Water) is celebrated all through Africa and the African Atlantic worlds.

A rich cluster of arts expressions describe both her and a large group of other sea-going spirits — respecting the fundamental, sacred nature of water.

The strong and inescapable presence of Mami Wata results from various elements.

Of exceptional note, she can bring good fortune in the form of money, and as a “entrepreneur” second to none, her power expanded between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries, the time of developing exchange among Africa and the remainder of the world.

Her very name is in pidgin English, a language created for trade.

The innumerable large number of oppressed Africans who were torn from their country and effectively conveyed across the Atlantic between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries as a feature of this “exchange” carried with them their convictions, practices, and expressions regarding Mami Wata and other familial divinities

Restored, revisualized, and rejuvenated in diaspora, Mami Wata arose in new networks and under various pretenses, among them Lasirèn, Yemanja, Santa Marta la Dominadora, and Oxum.

African-based beliefs keep on prospering in networks all through the Americas, Haiti, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic.

Mami Wata’s powers, in any case, reach out a long ways past financial benefits.

Despite the fact that for some she presents favorable luck and status through financial abundance, for other people, she supports concerns connected with reproduction — fruitlessness, feebleness, or baby mortality.

Some are attracted to her as an overpowering tempting presence who offers the delights and powers that go with the dedication to spiritual power.

However she likewise addresses risk, for a contact with Mami Wata frequently requires a significant sacrifice, such as the life of a family member or celibacy in the realm of mortals.

Regardless of this, she is fit for assisting ladies and men with arranging their sexual longings and preferences.

Mami likewise gives a profound and proficient road for ladies to turn out to be strong priestesses and healers of both psycho-spiritual and physical ailments.

Quick financial changes and the tensions of attempting to get by in prospering African metropolitan communities have expanded the requirement for the healing powers of Mami Wata priestesses and ministers.

Primordial Female Water Spirit

Mami Wata: The Scared Female African Water Goddess

Different African societies have focused on the worth and force of water as a wellspring of food as well as a focal point of spiritual and artistic expression.

Numerous early portrayals of spiritual elements assumed the form of animals, part-humans, part-aquatic.

In other words, the cosmological and imaginative systems were at that point present in numerous nearby settings to make the presentation of more current water divinities, like Mami Wata, a characteristic movement.

One of the ancient female water spirit known as Tingoi/Njaloi typifies out of reach magnificence beauty, power, and goodness.

She manages female initiation ceremonies among different people groups in Sierra Leone and Liberia, including Mende, Temne, Bullom, Vai, Gola, Dei, Krim, Kissi, and Bassa.

Tingoi/Njaloi is frequently compared to a mermaid and Muslim Mende people groups discuss her as a female jina, or spirit, with the lower body of a fish.

Sowei/Nowo initiation headdresses from this area offer profound and complex suggestions to Tingoi/Njaloi as well as to social practices and grandiose powers.

Legendary Origin of Mami Wata

The otherworldly pantheon of Mami Wata divinities are much of the time envisioned in the most ancient times as a mermaid, half-human or either half-fish or half-reptile.

Mermaids are not a new peculiarities in African history. For instance, as per the Dogon’s creation fantasy/myth, they attribute the making of the world to mermaid/mermen like animals whom they call Nommos.

They professed to have had some significant awareness of the presence of these mermaid-like divinities for over 4000 years.

Additionally as per Dogon folklore, the old home of these (initially rough) reptilian (half-lady/half-men/fish) pantheon of water spirits is accepted to be the dark and celebrated star framework in the belt of Orion known as Sirius (or Sopdet, Sothis), all the more prominently known as the “Canine Star” of Isis.

At the point when requested where their predecessors acquired these accounts from mermaids and mermen, they rapidly highlight antiquated Egypt (Griaule, 1997, Winters 1985, p. 50-64, Temple 1999, p.303-304).

Mermaid/mermen “fairies” revered as goddesses and divine beings brought into the world from the ocean are numerous in antiquated African societies history and profound folklore.

Most were regarded and regarded as being “bearers of divine law” and for laying out the religious, moral, social, political, monetary and, social establishment, to directing the flood of the Nile, and controlling the environment.

Nonetheless, similarly as not all snakes were revered/venerated, not all mermaids/mermen were thought of “good.” In one story, the popular London, Naturalists Henry Lee (1883) relates that “in the ocean of Angola mmermaids are frequently caught which resemble the human species.

They are taken in nets, and killed . . . also, are heard to screech and cry like women.”

Mami Wata P R I M A R Y  F U N C T IO N

On a basic level, in the family, Mami Wata’s essential job in the life of the devotee/initiate is “healing,” by assisting the initiate with accomplishing wholeness both spiritually, and materially in their lives.

Mami is additionally answerable for security, emotional, and mental healing, otherworldly development/balance, and keeping social control by guaranteeing that scared law forced on both the initate and the family in which she/he lives is kept up with.

Mami frequently favors the initiate (and family) with material abundance. “abundance” being comparative with guaranteeing that the family has the essential necessities of survival, for example, shelter, food, cloths, medication and assets to keep up with them.

Or on the other hand, abundance could mean accomplishing extraordinary wealth through some calling or profound gifts the initiate could have.

Mami Wata is also fundamentally known to produce Africa’s extraordinary diviners, prophetesses, prophets, scribes, botanists, healers, orators, spiritualists, and so on.

They are otherwise called the protector of mothers and children, and of abused women, and the “carrier of richness” to men and to infertile ladies.

Demonized by Modern Religions

Mami Wata: The Scared Female African Water Goddess

As Mami Wata’s popularity expanded and spread from the colonial time frame to the 1970s, numerous devotees came to imagine her as looking like a Christian holy person/saint who used her spiritual powers to help her devotees.

Trying to reinforce this similarity, they displayed their crafts and reflection rehearses on those of Christianity and a summed up “European” behavior for a portrayal of The House of the Holy Trinity [La Maison de la Sainte Trinité] in Togo).

In the Republic of Benin (the previous Dahomey), “Dad Nouveau,” the Christian “prophet” of a free church, turned out to be extremely influential in light of the fact that he was believed to be the husband of Mami Wata.

Inside the last twenty to thirty years, in any case, Mami Wata’s engagement with modernity, morality, Christianity, and Islam has prompted sensational changes in the ways she is portrayed and perceived.

As far as some might be concerned, her risky and alluring characteristics align her to the powers of Satan.

Mami has in this manner become an essential objective of a far reaching and developing strict development drove by outreaching (Pentecostal) Christians and fundamentalist Muslims who try to stigmatize and trash native African beliefs;

For these groups, Mami Wata has come to represent corruption, sin, and condemnation. She is viewed as one of the most powerful existences of Satan, one whose work is to allure ladies and men from the “way of honesty.

Mami Wata Ceremonies in Africa

Mami Wata: Togo

Ouidah, a town on the Atlantic shoreline of the Republic of Benin, has an interesting history of transoceanic associations with Brazil.

It is a background marked by the development, of recurring pattern, and the flights and returns of bodies, brains, and expressions.

The Agudas (which might be gotten from “Ajuda,” the Portuguese name for Ouidah), one fragment of Ouidah’s populace, are relatives of freed or banished Africans of diverse backgrounds (Yoruba, Hausa, Nupe, Fon, EweMina, Mahin, Kongo) who, following oppression in Brazil, got back to Africa in the nineteenth century, settling essentially in Lome, Ouidah, Porto Novo, and Lagos.

There they laid down a good foundation for themselves as a special shipper class, going about as mediators between the  native people groups and the Portuguese and different Europeans.

Forming a community in the process, they came to consider themselves to be Brazilians of African or of blended European and African returned, as opposed to as Africans got back from Brazil.

One of the social practices Agudas brought from Brazil was the disguise referred to in Benin as Bourian.

It derives from two eighteenth-century Brazilian masking practices, the Burrinha (Little Donkey) and the Bumba-meu-Boi (Bumba-my-Ox), which combines Portuguese, Brazilian, and Afro-Brazilian components.

In Brazil these masquerades are related with Catholic festivals of Epiphany, or the day of the Three Kings (January 6).

In Ouidah, notwithstanding, Bourian has turned into a generally mainstream entertainment that might happen any season to observe Aguda family occasions like events such as baptisms, marriages, graduations, memorial services, and reunions.

The hilarious and frequently indecent exhibitions make fun of human shortcomings.

The de Souza and de Nevis families, both Aguda, perform Bourian in Ouidah, and it is here that Mami Wata makes her appearance

Mami Wata: Nigeria

For the Igbo people groups of southeastern Nigeria, the name “Mami Wata” alludes to a particular water spirit and to a “school” of native water spirits with explicit neighborhood names and traits.

Such water divinities, connected with, yet separate from, a huge pantheon of divine beings and goddesses (agbara), are thought of “nonconformists” who exist outside the public clique framework (Cole 1982:62).

Mami Wata works with seers and minister/healers assisting clients with physical and mental illnesses.

She likewise mediates in cash matters, since she is remembered to have “been brought by white men, whom individuals accept to have vast supplies of paper cash and coins”


Among the Ibibio, despite the fact that Mami Wata could give incredible wealth, she could likewise unleash devastation as per her impulse.

She could have people and draw them to her watery realm while they were washing or captivate them to follow her through incredible dreams.

Her enthusiasts could take on an other common appearance and act oddly. While they could become well off, they would not be able to bear youngsters, a chosen burden in a culture that prizes fertility.

Certain individuals, notwithstanding, delighted in their correspondence with the spirit and became Mami Wata clerics or priestesses by their own doing.

Great wealth and prestige could accumulate to clerics and priestesses by making private “medical clinics” where feeble/impotent men, barren ladies, and those experiencing mental issues would pay high expenses to be dealt with utilizing different modalities, including drugs, electric shock therapy, and extended advising meetings.

Moreover, conventional Ibibio society is male overwhelmed, and the capacity of a lady to be moved by Mami Wata offered her almost her main opportunity to accomplish the status concurred to men

Democratic Republic of the Congo

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), they believe that a wide scope of water isolates the universe of the predecessors from that of the living.

It additionally isolates Mputu (Europe) from Africa.

The alarm or mermaid, whose component is water, is transcendently a middle person between these universes.

More a sweetheart than a goddess, she helps men as they continued looking for power and wealth inside a universe put into high gear by colonial modernization.


The Haitian religion of Vodou might be generally described as moving to and fro among cool and controlled (Rada) viewpoints and hot and vivacious (Petwo) qualities.

Water enters the Vodou cosmology in many structures and through numerous ways.

Marine spirits can be reached through waterways going from the ocean to the tubs found in Vodou sanctuaries.

Fish, whales, and snakes, especially the rainbow python Danbala, join incredible composite animals, like the mermaid Lasirèn, to represent the spirits, or lwa, of the water. Some water spirits are related with the cool and sweet Rada divinities; others are Petwo, hot and unstable.

Some, as Lasirèn, switch this way and that however they see fit.

Every year, on February 2, along the Northeast shoreline of Brazil that connects toward Africa, relatives of those enslaved, as well as numerous others, turn their eyes toward the tremendous watery skyline and go to the “Sovereign of the Sea,” “MotherWater,” the “Mother-of-Fish,”

Just before Yemanja’s celebration, her sweet-water sister Oxum is likewise respected with contributions at her consecrated lake. This is a period for reestablishment.

Families and companions, enthusiasts and travelers come with a bounty of presents gifts — bunches of roses, scent, sweet organic products, soda pops, confections, baby powder, cleansers, globules, mirrors, dolls, candles, and numerous different things to satisfy the goddess.

These contributions are stacked into huge woven bushels, put in boats, and did to the ocean to be given to Yemanja.

At the point when she has acknowledged them — her indication of gift — the party starts with singing, moving, and drinking into the evening and next morning, when the sun’s most memorable beams shimmer on Yemanja’s waves.

Mami Wata and the African Atlantic

Consecrated waters wash the narratives of African people groups, some of the time as tears of profound distress, now and again as drops of calming and cooling fluid supporting life and trust.

Water associates — world with otherworld, existence with eternity — for some African and African Atlantic people groups — Yoruba, Kongo, Fon, and others.

What’s more, among Africans scattered across tremendous seas, those waters are meaningful of a definitive excursion back home to that large number of far off yet residing predecessors.

In Haiti, it is the excursion home to Guinee, across the undulating kalunga limit of existence, envisioned as an immense scope of water, among life and existence in the afterlifw.

This is the habitation of Mami Wata, Simbi, Olokun, Yemoja, La Baleine, La Sirene, Watramama, Maman d’Eau, River Maids, and all the water divinities of Africa and the African Atlantic.

Their names are routinely summoned to keep up with, revive, and reinforce the spirit expected to persevere through the difficulties of lives dispersed and broken by the insatiability and mercilessness of the people who enslave others for their own advantage.

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