ABOUT OSHOOSI.COM, ALASHE MICHAEL OSHOOSI, AND IBI'KONI ORISHA LLC.
MY AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIBERATION THEOLOGY DRAWS ON MANY SOURCES FOR INSPIRATION. SINCE THIS IS A WEB PAGE OF A PERSONAL NATURE, IT IS APPROPRIATE FOR ME TO START BY AC- KNOWLEDGING 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 com- munity of free African-Americans in the United States: Wetipquin, Maryland-- founded in 1683 by FMC's (free men of colour)--to my eldest named and known personal ancestor, Comfort Wright (b. 1720), to David Dutton (b. circa 1730), and to all those who preceded and descended from them. These families 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 according to our DNA records; though our her- itage from the Efik and Efon peoples' areas of southeast Nigeria (Calibari) is a distinct possibility as well. While my grandfather's lineage is said to have been primarily of the Akan people of Ghana, al- though 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 Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa., and raised by my loving and hard-working aunt and uncle, Maude and John Rutter (both were exper- ienced hunters), in the slums of North Philadelphia, specifically. However, my life was charmed with the blessing of being able to frequenly live in the "tidewater" or "low country" of the rural Eastern Shore of Maryland among my extended family of boatwrights (which is why my family surname is "Wright") and "watermen" or "oystermen" as well as in the then industrial neighborhoods of North Philadelphia, on the one hand, and by having frequent visits with my mother and her husband, 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 des- pair 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 grandfather's 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 inherit- ance; far from it. He spoke of a historical 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 relatively fortunate, though not wealthy, when compared to others similarly situated. As communitarian leaders they were dedicated, nevertheless, to the edification of all of our people. And though we were "always" free, occasionally, people in our area were forced into limited per- iods of indentured 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 "Negroes" to Nova Scotia, Canada; probably for having fought for the British in the Revolutionary War. A few years later, it appears, he would have returned 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 or re-entered the USA. But most of them obliged the British to return them to Africa; where they went on to found Freetown, Sierra Leone. Many decades ago, around 1983, I was fortunate enough to become re-acquainted with an African traditional religious and, ipso facto, cultural ethos arising from--of all places--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 of the United States. I obtained terminal degrees in psychology and law in Berkeley, California while working part-time as the founder and director of the Ethnic Arts Studies Division of the California 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 bachel- or's 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, including beginning my study of Vodou (though not a practitioner because there were no practical opportunities to do so in my geographic area). Also, in 1971, I served on the Board of Directors of the National Black Economic Development Con- ference (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 slavery by the Christian churches and Jewish synagogues that benefitted from that "peculiar instit- ution." 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 psy- chologist; 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 (Afro-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 in my padrino's ("godfather's") name, and under his authority, as his chosen counselor for matters external to our 'house,' (i.e., as his consejero or oludamoran in Spanish and Yoruba, res- pectively), I led the campaign in the Bay Area of California to repeal the laws that prohibited the prac- tice of animal sacrificing (and, thereupon, the consumption of said animals). These rites are of im- portance to religious practitioners in many faiths; though the laws they propposed prohibited--by name!--only us. Fortunately, by contrast, we were the first in the country to achieve success in rep- ealing them. Eight months later, after I and representatives from more than thirty religious denominations nat- ionwide, submitted briefs amicus curie to the U.S. Supreme Court. In my case it was a "letter brief" explaining the juris prudence that obtained in our San Francisco case was sent to the Chief Justice Rhenquist for distribution to the assigned justice in the Hialeah case then being heard by the court (whose identity--Mr. Justice Kennedy, in this case--as always, was unknown to the public). * After that, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of these rites being done by "Santeros," our religious practitioners of the Afro-Cuban "Lucumi" version of Yoruba religion in the landmark case City of Hialeah v. Church of Lukumi-Babaluaiye. And with that, the late Justice Kennedy proh- ibited in the strongest terms possible, further police harassment against the Yoruba / Santeria rel- igion in the United States. __________________*The letter-brief amicus curie's content can be found in my book "African Spirituality vs. The African American" (1997), pp. 144-147 (available from this website if in stock) and in the "Ochosi" edition of "Coco Atare," Vol.1,#3,pp. 8-11, Vol 1, #3, AUg.-Sept, 1992. I had been in the religion for ten years at that time; with the four most recent 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 experience 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 creat- ive force sourced in--in my case-- the divinity that we, in the "Orisha-Ifa" or Yoruba religion--call "Oshoosi"; an appelation which is now attached to my name as "Alashe Michael Oshoosi." That is, this is how I am popularly known in our religion. I hope that you will enjoy these treatises and may the blessings of Olodumare-Nyame, "God" in Yor- uba religion, be with you. From our religious language: "A gbo ru ebo atukan eru. Ko i pe, ko i jinna. Or'sha ti nse bi alama'ra e" "We heard the call 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 On the History of the Oldest African-American Families in the United States
"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 considered 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 gener- ation" 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 facilitators 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, event- ually buying and owning slaves himself.The transformation of the social status of Africans, from in- dentured servitude to slaves in a racist caste which they could not leave or escape, happened grad- ually." *The "Wrights" of the Tidewater area of Maryland and the"Tuckers" of the Tidewater area 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 1800's Some bear the names of folks Walter knew; some have faded to illegibility; 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 founding 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” ar- ound 1624. It’s been 400 years this August since William’s parents arrived in the Vir- ginia 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 history 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 Vir- inia 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 English colonies and was one of the first legal distinct- ions made between Europeans and Africans."