Comptes rendusReviews

Joel E. Tishken, Tóyìn Fálolá, and Akíntúndé Akínyemí (eds.). Sangó in Africa and the African Diaspora. (Bloomington: 2009, Indiana University Press. Pp.365. ISBN : 978-0-253-22094-3)[Notice]

  • Cory W. Thorne

…plus d’informations

  • Cory W. Thorne
    Memorial University

Several years ago, on my first visit to Cuba, I was approached by a stranger who, upon spotting a line of freckles on my shoulder, insisted that I was a son of Changó. The birthmark meant nothing to me before this, yet upon inquiry I was told that it looked like Changó had hit me with his axe. I soon learned that a second birthmark, a non-descript patch of darkened skin on my outer thigh, was read by some as a mark from Changó’s lightning. Apparently, my body belongs to an aggressive warrior spirit, who controls thunder and lightning, carries a double-headed axe, and, in some circles, is seen as a particularly virile, hyper-masculine leader. While attending a Santería ceremony one night, I saw two people lose control of their bodies and become possessed by òrìsà, the West African dieties Yemayá (protector of the oceans) and Elleguá (guardian of the crossroads). When Elleguá spotted me, he stated with great enthusiasm that I was one of his sons. Yemayá disagreed. The two argued and eventually concluded that I am a son of Elleguá but that I spend much of my time in the house of Changó. I am dedicated to Changó but not owned by him. I begin with this personal anecdote to reveal both my own connections and potential biases to the cult of Sàngó, as well as my desire to give a thorough review of this book. I likewise use it to emphasize the diversity of experiences and interpretations that accompany Sàngó worship, with particular reference to the African diaspora. The editors of Sàngó in Africa and the African Diaspora have set out to explain a complex piece of West African history and spirituality, to demonstrate how one deity, associated with the small city of Òyó in the ancient kingdom of Yorùbáland (within the borders of contemporary Nigeria and Benin), has continued to develop as a powerful force in politics and popular culture across much of Africa and the New World. This work blends approaches from history and folklore, as well as religious and literary studies. The authors include both academics and practitioners, some of whom fulfill both categories simultaneously. Part One, “Defining Sàngó in West Africa,” consists of four essays, each of which mainly focuses on historical narratives and mythologies and the question of the origin and spread of the cult of Sàngó. In chapter two, The “Place of Sàngó in the Yorùbá Pantheon,” Akíntúndé Akínyemí starts by demonstrating the differences of views on the exact order of the Yorùbá pantheon - namely interpretations and debates on the order of deities through various Yorùbá communities. He states up front that his goal is not to argue for the supremacy of Sàngó but rather to explain why Sàngó is such a popular deity both in Nigeria and throughout much of the African diaspora. It is a complex essay, and it is assumed that the reader already has a firm understanding of the context of this debate. Many of these details, however, become clearer in the following chapters. My greatest concern in this essay is Akínyemí’s uncritical use of the word “syncretization” in relation to Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian religion (this is covered later on, however, by Glazier in chapter eleven). Regardless, Akínyemí provides a thorough examination of Yorùbá mythology in the New World, along with an explanation of the direct role of Sàngó in the lives of believers through the Eérìndínlógún divination system. This system is referenced in several additional chapters, with the greatest practical explanation given by George Olúsolá Ajíbádé (chapter four). Àrinpé Gbékèlólú Adéjùmò, “The Practice and …

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