Discussions, Performances, Street Parade for 2018 Ogun Festival October 5-7

A new play written by Eintou Pearl Springer on the Orisa Ogun will be part of the programme for this year’s Ogun Festival, a three day festival celebration of the Yoruba deity Ogun at the Ile Isokan compound Niles Trace Febeau Village, Lower Santa Cruz from October 5-7, 2018.

The Festival, which has been running since 2006, explores ancient and contemporary meanings of the Orisa Ogun.
Originally revered as the warrior, hunter and blacksmith in Nigeria,  that understanding has expanded to include responsibility for roads, forms of transport and technology, while in Trinidad Ogun is also regarded as the patron Orisa of the steelpan.
‘The play tells the story of how Ogun was the only Orisa given the power to transform minerals in the earth into metal and connects also to the evolution of the steelpan from the discarded oil drum. Ogun’s warrior energy is embedded in this instrument of spirit and resistance,’ explained playwright Eintou Pearl Springer.
The Festival begins at 6 p.m. on Friday October 5 with a discussion on ‘Manifestation’ in Trinidad  Orisa practice and features local Ifa/Orisa priests and practitioners.
On Saturday, the play will be preceded by storytelling from 3.30 p.m. led by Eintou Springer and graduates of the Mentoring by the Masters programme, who will also perform the play at 6 p.m.
This will be followed by a discourse on Manifestation in Nigeria led by Araba Olatunji Somorin of Ketus Ifa Academy which is spearheading a more studied approach to the discussion of African spiritual practice with an Ifa/Orisa focus.
Known as ‘catching power’ or ‘manifestation’, possession trance is described as a temporary alteration of one’s normal identity by an ancestral spirit or deity. The experience of being “possessed” holds different meanings in different cultures – from Christianity to Sufism to Hinduism – but is most commonly locally associated with African spiritual practice. The discourse will reveal some of the deeper social meanings of energy manifestation and how this affects our emotions, work interests and creative impulses.
‘The Festival comes to a close on Sunday with a street procession which serves as a celebration of Ogun as owner of the road and also appeals for protection of the community.’ said Oloye Ogunrinola Ogunbowale, head of Ile Isokan. Sunday’s closing celebration will also include steelpan and drumming.
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Obeah and other Political Tools

A couple of weeks ago I saw a tasteless attack on Hinduism expressing some vaguely articulated fundamentalist Christian desire to return Trinidad and Tobago to ‘God fearing ways’.

Forgetting of course that it was the church that Patrick Manning was building with his ‘Prophetess’ that was part of what hastened his being voted out.

This week they, whoever ‘they’ are took a turn behind African spirituality, aping the same divisive colonialist madness that was used to keep Indians and Africans afraid of each other since the first ship landed here in 1845.

The only reason anybody would put the Gods out of their thoughts, waste time and resources to make an ‘Obeah’ ad is because they/we remain mired by this Christian colonisation of our spiritual choices. We remain complicit in the contempt the society has for African spirituality and any other belief system that doesn’t subscribe to a Judaeo-Christian idea of who or what God is.

‘Obeah’ was used as a general term that lumped together all African spiritual practice and anything else that could be vaguely construed as a threat against colonial authorities.

The fact that many of the spiritual practices of Orisa and Hindu and Indigenous devotees have clear and evident similarities will never be highlighted in any political advertisement.

Go back and ask Iyalorisa Melvina Rodney why she had a big picture of Lord Shiva in her inner sanctum. Go back and ask Babalorisa Sam Phils how he knew so much Sanskrit. Go Enterprise and ask my Uncle Raviji why he invites Babalawos to his Mandir.

Hinduism and Orisa and Indigenous beliefs have and will continue to coexist here. Regardless of the racist and misinformed backwardness that gets peddled as political rhetoric.

Most PNM people also don’t know that the balisier has a wider meaning in the world of Orisa practice of the Caribbean.
Last year when I went to Cuba I found out that they call the balisier ‘Sword of Shango’. I saw the balisier flower all over the shrines of Santeria practitioners.

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Shango was and continues to be a popular Orisa in Trinidad for a very specific reason.
Many of the Yoruba people who were brought here after Emancipation were from Oyo, where Shango was a 13th century King of that large and ancient Empire. It was because of that longstanding connection to Oyo that they used to call all Orisa devotees ‘Shango people’. Go up to the hundred year old Orisa shrine on Upper St. Francois Valley Road and you will hear songs about Ibadan to this day.
Y’all think Eric Williams didn’t know these things?

Read more about Shango from eminent Trinidad born scholar Maureen Warner-Lewis’ Trinidad Yoruba : From Mother Tongue to Memory.
If you need more information on Caribbean anti-obeah laws read this paper from Jerome Handler:

Anti-Obeah Laws of the Anglophone Caribbean, 1760s to 2010

CLR James said in Black Jacobins ‘voodoo was the medium of conspiracy’. It was the Vodun ceremony held at Bwa Kayiman on August 14, 1791 that was the catalyst of the Haitian Revolution.
If it wasn’t for obeah, Vodun, secret societies, ancestral rituals, masking traditions, Ogun manifesting in the steel pan we would not have survived the Middle Passage or enslavement or colonialism or the continued attempts to deny us the fullness of who we are.

All of the born again Africans and Afro-Saxons waving their Swords of Shango, I ask you what the PNM is doing to protect you at the core of your spiritual beliefs?