Nsala Malongo to all informed participants who follow this blog. I have been quite busy with ceremonial obligations but from time to time I will be getting other people hopefully to write as well so this blog can have a much broader spectrum. Today we are going to touch on the subject of Fundamental roots and understanding a branch from which a nganga can be brought into existence. When we look at the fundamental roots of Palo Mayombe and its practices and also Bantu teachings and philosophy we have to touch on the core. Where were these ngangas from and how they came into existence? The nkisi for which Minkisi, Bakisi, Nkondi objects were formulated and brought to existence in Africa. We can all deduce that this fundamental understanding of Bantu worship was brought about from co existence of the first civilizations in Africa. Egypt being one of the greatest influences to all of Africa and later on other forms of religious ideals came to blossom. This is the Fundamental Root of mostly all mainstream religions that deal in African spirituality. Now human condition and the way we propose to see how this fundamental root moved and became branches from the root.
In Angola and the Congo when the first ships arrived into Africa via Arabic and Portuguese boats the Slave trade became a lucrative business. So lucrative that many companies till this day and religious institutions are filthy rich on the backs of many native people throughout the globe. Slave traders did not bring a welcome wagon to the Americas. They brought sickness, hunger, depravity to the human condition and the spirit. They did not allow people to come with belongings jewelry or anything. Lets get this folklore out-of-the-way once and for all. As much as we would love a fairytale beginning of slaves and masters sitting around a nice boat with food the truth is quite horrifying. In other words how did african spirituality survive its journey. (kimbambula) Remembrance that is how it survived. Through song and dance, stories and depictions through the spirit of remembering. So Palo Mayombe and many Bantu ideologies came through those who knew and remembered. If the fundamental roots of a nkisi would have come from africa it would have been saved like the arc of the covenant it is riddled in secret and no one knows who really has it. So the Africans rebuilt the culture and formalized in cuba as a branch to give remembrance from the root which it came from. This is undeniable fact I still have not seen an archeologist date any pre Columbian artifacts in cuba or puerto rico or any south american country to state that this is a direct route from africa. Anything other than the bones of the dead who came in slavery unfortunately that is the truth.
My dilemma in this article is that in the United States Paleros are coming under scrutiny because people are going around stating if you do not have a direct Fundamental root from a Nganga than your practice is not valid. Now what happened to the slaves who did not have the opportunity to bring with them a piece of africa? Are they not valid as well?
See this Bantu 101….. When you take or receive a ritual nkisi from africa and bring it over the water it loses its strength,(ngolo) its energy and more than likely since it is not connected to its fundamental root of its essence it will need to be re-established in its new home and or environment. The reason why the caribbean islands were key components to African Spirituality not saying that anywhere else was not established because even nowadays you have paleros in Alaska. But getting back to my point closer to the equator the energy of the sun would charge all the ritual items and so of course the resurgence of a African Spirituality can thrive because it was in essence almost the same environment. Almost the same plants and with the help of the people native to the land it grew into what Palo is today.
In the United States we have Paleros who have branchs from cuba but as my grandfather Luanganga says if you do not pact with the earth you are living in how will the nganga understand the terrain? How would it be strong and thrive unless it pacts with where we live at? So many paleros who are born and bred americans who were taught palo because they have a branch from another branch that was born from an ideological root is not valid. Let me put it this way. If an African moved to cuba and was competent priest who had to leave his root he could build a branch. Then he moves to the united states has to leave that branch to build another does that make his teachings invalid? I think people are to caught up in originality because even the nkondi’s from overseas do not have no energy just they look awesome but they lost the fundamental root but does not mean they can not be established in new lands. It is just remembering and know how.
This goes without say that people who are inventing forms of spirituality with no proper training or are not paleros should not try this at home. But as I say this new ideal and seperatist movement I see with people wanting to lay claim on african spirituality yet it has become more than that here. Cultural connections are broad from the Garifuna in Honduras, to the Palenque people in Colombia, To the Bomberos in Loiza Puerto Rico, to Afro Panamanians etc. Palo since its inception into other cultures around the world are slowing becoming amalgamated into Afro cuban/ cultural being.
So when I see people laying claim to something the first thing I say is so why did you initiate other people other than afro cubans? I was initiated into an Afro-Cuban tradition I have orisha, I am a Palero, I am Puerto Rican. Am I less of a palero because I am not born from the branch in cuba? People are going around stating this ideology but what would happen if now no persons came to initiate or practice palo that were not cuban?
I would imagine that many of us who try to bring a better understanding of a culture would just simply step back and now this religion seizes to exist. You hear that silence? That is the echo of ignorance when people look to us for help yet these people want to tear you down from the ground up. I am proud person and I respect the people of cuba and the hard-working class. I respect my teachers who are cuban but my spirituality I was born with. My ceremonies were given to me so I can keep a legacy going. Maybe people will talk or maybe they will understand that what needs to be done is many Palo Mayombe, Palo monte, Mayombe, Briyumba, Kimbisa, branches and other muna nsos like Musundi, Chamalongo, Malongo lines, Palo haitiano, also other forms of Bantu worship are not cuban but give homage and respect to that which is not ours.
Malembe …Ahora si se partio la ciguaraya….. Tata Musitu.