Registered © Michael omo'Oshoosi,

                                                                                                                                                                                    All Rights Reserved, 2015

  

      "I am half Marxist, half Buddhist...the ideal of  socialism, of sharing         what  sharing what one has with thoseless fortunate, is something I                                                                       believe in."

                                                                           *

                                                                           --The Dalai Lama at Berkeley, Ca.                                                                                Oakland Tribune, June 13, 1997

 

                                                                                                                              *

    MY AFRICAN-AMERICAN  LIBERATION THEOLOGY DRAWS  ON  MANY 

   SOURCES FOR  INSPIRATION.  SINCE   THIS  IS  A  WEB PAGE OF  A PER-

     SONAL NATURE, IT IS APPROPRIATE FOR ME TO START BY ACKNOW-

    LEDGING  MY  OWN  HONORED ANCESTORS--MY "EGUNGUN"--IN  THE

      PARLANCE  OF  THE  SANTERIA-LUCUMI  (THE CUBAN)  VERSION  OF

                                                         YORUBA RELIGION.


My  family can  be traced--name for name-- directly  back  to the founders of the oldest community of  free  African-Americans  in  the United States: Wetipquin,  Maryland-- founded in 1683 by FMC's (freed men of colour)--to my  eldest  known personal  ancestor, Comfort  Wright (b. 1720), to  David Dutton (b. circa 1730), and to all those descended from them. These fam- ilies of "low country" Maryland  watermen  and women, including  Harriet Tubman, were known for  liberating slaves by removing them from the mid-Atlantic "Tidewater" colonies  and  the  states  by  stowage  in  their  boats or  by  other means. I was born of that tradition.*

 

On my mother's side, our  lineage  originates,  in  all  likelihood,   primarily from  the   Igala  or  Ngala  bantu-speaking  peoples  of  eastern  Nigeria ac- cording  to our DNA  records; though our heritage from the Efik and Efon peoples' areas of southeast Nigeria (Calibari) is a distinct possibility as well. While my grandfather's  lineage  is said primarily  to have  been  of the Akan people  of Ghana, although recent DNA evidence also points to a Nigerian source for them as well. I  acknowledge and honor them all !

                                                                         *

Personally, I  was born in the  former  Frederick Douglas  Memorial Hospi-

tal in Philadelphia, Pa., and raised by my loving and hard-working aunt and uncle,  Maude and John  Rutter  (both  were  experienced  hunters),  in  the slums of  North Phila., specifically. However, my life was charmed with the blessing  of  being able to frequenly  live  in  the "tidewater" or "low coun- try" of the rural  Eastern  Shore  of Maryland,  among   my  extended  family of  boatwrights (which is why my family surname is "Wright") and "water- men"("oystermen") and  women, on  the  one hand,  and  by  having  freq- uent visits with my mother, in New York city, on  the  other. 

                                                                         *

At  an  early  age I started learning  what  I would  come to know  about the politics of  cultural despair  that, for  African-Americans, flows  in  the wake of racialized capitalism, and for my life-long committment to eliminate its evils.

                                                                                                                               *

Though, at a tender age, I did not grasp the full meaning of my grandfat-

her words to me as  we spoke while I helped him scrape the barnacles  off the  bottom  of  his oyster  boats,  or looked  out  across  the  woods and fields  of  rural  Maryland  from  the back pantry of our family home: "You are Master Over All You Survey!" I later grasped his meaning. (He was not speaking about any material inheritance; far from it. He spoke of a histor- ical and spiritual inheritance rooted in human dignity).

                                                                         *

Indeed  as  I  grew  older  it  became  clearer to  me  how  grand  was  the tradition of the noble working people from which I issued. Through the centuries  we--our clan of extended families--owned  land and boats and, relative to those times, a fair amount it. Thus, my forebearers were relat- ively fortunate, though not wealthy, when compared  to others similarly situated.  

 

As communitarian  leaders they were dedicated, nevertheless, to the edi- fication  of  all  of  our people. And though  we  were  "always" free,  occas-ionally, people  in  our  area  were  forced  into  limited periods of indent- ured servitude--from 1700 or so  until  the 1750's--either because of their refusals to pay taxes, or for  having "mixed race" babies or babies out of wedlock. (These  periods  were 7  years  for  the African-American mother and 21  years  or 31 years  for  the  baby)!  In the 1790's  one of  my great-great grandfathers, "Stephen," was exiled, along with  3,500  other "Negro- es" to  Nova  Scotia, Canada; probably  for having  fought  for  the British

in the Revolutionary  War. A few years later, it appears, he would have ret- urned  to  the  Eastern  Shore  of  Maryland.  A  few  "loyalists"--as  these

Africans-in-America,  now  exiled  in Nova Scotia, were  called--remained there in Nova Scotia. But most of them obliged the British to return them

to Africa; where they went on to found Freetown, Sierra Leone.

 

Many decades ago I was fortunate enough to become re-acquainted with

an African traditional religious and, ipso facto, cultural ethos arising --of all places-- from  Nigeria, by being,  in my  case, deeply  initiated  in 1989  as a Santeria-Lucumi priest in an Afro-Cuban (Yoruba)religious lineage (La Rama de Las Pimientas) of Cuba by the singular Afro-Puerto Rican priest: the late Roberto Clemente--"Anya bi Osun," (iba-e!). 

                                                                                                                               *

In my life, to that point, I  had  worked  for four  years  as  an  activist with

the  Student  Nonviolent  Coordinating  Committee  (SNCC)  in  the  deep south. In the 1960's, I studied Marxist theory in that period and, in the next

decade, I obtained both a Ph.D. in psychology (The Wright Institute, Berk- eley, Ca., 1976)  as  well  as  a degree in law (Univ. of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, 1981). I obtained these degrees while working part-time  as the founder and director of the Ethnic  Arts  Studies  Division of  the Calif- ornia  College  of  Arts & Crafts (from 1970 to1981) in Oakland, California. Being hired  to do  this was unique  because I had not yet finished my own degree at that point.  

                                                                                                                             *

Fortunately, my role there at CCAC was typically one-half time which allow- ed me to do many other political  and educational  things  in  the 1970's, in-cluding  beginning  my  study of Vodu  (though  not a  practitioner because there were no practical opportunities to do so in my geographic area).

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Also, in 1971, I served on the Board of Directors of the National Black Econ-

omic  Development  Conference  (along  with  James  Forman,  Julian Bond,

Fannie Lou Hamer, attorney  Howard  Moore, and others in  demanding, for

the first time in American  history,  reparations  for profits made from slav- ery by the Christian churches and Jewish synagogues that benefitted from

that "peculiar institution." This strategy was originally inspired by the late

Queen Mother Moore, of revolutionary fame in Harlem, NYC, USA.

                                                                                                                         *

Moving on, by 1989 I had become a nationally-recognized and triply board-certified  forensic  psychologist; the  first  African-American  in  the United States to do so. But little else has meant more  to  me  than  that  I  was--as an  adult,  in 1983--accepted  into  the Santeria-Lucumi  (Cuban variant)  of the Yoruba  religion and, as mentioned, deeply initiated as a priest of  the orishas (deities) Oshoosi and Oya, a few years later. 

                                                                                                                                *

In 1993, acting under my padrino's ("godfather's") name and authority, and as his chosen 'consigliere'  for our 'house' (or 'ile' or 'casa' emissary), I led the campaign in the Bay Area of California to repeal  the laws that prohib- ited the practice of animal sacrificing (and, thereupon, the consumption of said animals). These rites were of importance  to religious  practitioners  in many faiths;  though  the laws prohibited  only us. We were  the first in the country to achieve success in repealing them.

 

Eight months later, after I and representatives from more than thirty relig- ious denominations nationwide, submitted briefs amicus curie to it. In my case it was a "letter brief" explaining the jurisprudence that obtained in our San Francisco case that was sent to the Chief Justice for distribution to the assigned  justice  in the Hialeah  case  then being heard by the court (whose identity, as  always, was  unknown  to  the  public). After that,  the  U.S.  Su- preme Court  ruled  unanimously  in  favor  of  these  rites  being  done  by "Santeros,"the religious practitioners of the Afro-Cuban "Lucumi"  version of Yoruba religion in the landmark case City of Hialeah v. Church  of  Luku- mi-Babaluaiye. And  with  that, police  harassment  against the Yoruba rel- igion stopped in the United States.

                                                                      *

I had been in the religion for ten years at that time; with the four most rec- ent  of  them  as  an  initiated priest.  Following  that, I  authored  the  book "African Spirituality vs. The African-American" in 1996, that expounded on the  issues, difficulties, and  joys that most African-Americans might ex- perience  in  adopting  and  prospering in an African-informed  "bi-cultural" life in the United States. "Alashe" is a title  that means "one who owns (or,

better  yet, "channels") the "ashe  of  authority" --that  vital  creative  force sourced in the divinity that we, in "Orisha-Ifa" or Yoruba religion) which is attached to my name as "Michael omo'Oshoosi." This is how I am known in our religion and to the public.

                                                                                                                            *

I hope that  you will enjoy these treatises and may the blessings of Olodu- mare, "God" in Yoruba religion, be with you. From our language:

                                                                         *

                                           "A  gbo  ru  ebo  atukan  eru.

                                                      Ko i  pe,  ko i  jinna.

                                             Or'sha ti nse bi alama'ra e"

                           

                                      "We heard and offered the sacrifice

                                                            It  won't  be  long.  It  is  not  far  away...  

                            Orisha  will  make  it  come true like a dream!"

 

                                          Ashe-O!,  Ashe-O!!,  Ashe-Ooooo!!!

____________________________

*Source: Wikipedia Encyclopedia

"The first 19 or so Africans to reach the English colonies arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, brought by  the Dutch  traders who  had  seized them  from a captured  Spanish slave  ship. The Spanish usually baptized slaves in Africa before embarking them. As English custom then con- sidered baptized Christians exempt from slavery, colonists treated these Africans as indentur- red servants,  and they  joined  about 1,000 English  indentured  servants already in the colony. The Africans  were freed  after a  prescribed period and  given the  use of land and supplies by their former masters.  The  historian Ira Berlin noted  that what he  called the"charter genera- tion" in the colonies  was  sometimes  made up of mixed race  men (Atlantic Creoles) who were indentued  servants, and  whose  ancestry  was African and Iberian. They  were  descendants of African women and Portuguese or Spanish men who worked in African ports as traders or facil- itators in the slave trade. For example, Anthony Johnson arrived in Virginia in 1621 from Angola as an indentured servant; he  became free and a property owner, eventually buying and owning slaves himself. The transformation of the social status of Africans, from indentured servitude to slaves in a racist caste which they could not leave or escape, happened gradually.

                                                                                                                             *

The "Wrights" of the Tidewater area of Maryland and the "Tuckers" of the Tidewater areas of

Virginia (near Hampton, Va.) are among the oldest African-American families of America. For

example:

                    '...As Walter Jones walks his family’s ancient cemetery, shovel in hand, he won-

                    ders about those who rest there The gravestones date back as far as the 

                    1800s. Some bear the names of folks Walter knew; some have faded to illeg-

                    ibility; some are in pieces. And, under the brush he’s cleared away and the

                    ground he’s leveled, there are burial sites unmarked by any stone.

                    The cemetery means so much to Walter because his extended family – the

                    Tuckers of Tidewater, Virginia – believe they are as much an American foun-

                    ding family as any from the Mayflower. They have a widely recognized but

                    possibly unprovable claim: that they are directly descended from the first

                    identified African American people born on the mainland of English America,

                    an infant baptized “William” around 1624. It’s been 400 years this August

                    since William’s parents arrived in the Virginia colony. The Tuckers, like many

                    African Americans, struggle to trace their roots. They have no genealogical

                    or DNA evidence linking them to those first Africans, but they have oral his-

                    tory and family lore...'  

                                                 (This account is from internet sources; the most detailed of 

                                                                which can be found at https://www.usatoday.com/in- depth/

                                                                opinion/2019/08/21/slavery-america-behind-usa-todays-1619-

                                                                seriesblack-history/2032393001/ )


There were no laws regarding slavery early in Virginia's history. But, in 1640, a Virginia court sentenced John Punch, an African, to slavery after he attempted to flee his service. The two whites with whom he fled were sentenced only to an additional year of their indenture, and three years service to the colony. This marked the first legal sanctioning of slavery in the Eng- lish colonies and was one of the first legal distinctions made between Europeans and Afric- ans."