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       "I am half Marxist, half Buddhist...the ideal of 

                                                                                                                 *                                                   *                                                *                                       

            socialism, of sharing what one has with those

                                             *                                                 *                                              *

            less fortunate, is something I believe in." 

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

                                                                                                                                                                       Registered © Michael Oshoosi, 2015

                                                                                                                                                                                    All Rights Reserved

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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 (free 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 "Tide- water" 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 Efo peoples of southeast Nigeria (Calibari) is a distinct possibility as well. While my grandfather's  lineage  is said  to  have  primarily  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 and "watermen"("oystermen") and  women, on  the  one hand,  and  by  having  frequent 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, studied Marxist theory in that period and, in the next

decade, 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 allowed me to do many other political and educational things in the 1970's.

                                                                                                                         *

And by 1989 I had become a nationally-recognized 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 men- tioned, 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') I led the cam- paign in the Bay Area of California to repeal the laws that prohibited the practice of animal sacrificing (and, thereupon, the consumption of said an- imals). 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 repres- entatives from more than thirty religious denominations nation-wide, sub- mitted briefs amicus curie to it, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of these rites being done by "Santeros"--the religious practitioners of the Afro-Cuban "Lucumi" version  of the Yoruba religion--in the landmark case City of Hialeah v. Church of Lukumi-Babaluaiye. And with that, pol- ice harassment against the Yoruba religion 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 possesses "ashe" (vital creative force) which is attached to my name "Michael Oshoosi"; which is how I am known in our religion and the public.

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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-O!!!