See also America: Texts and Sources


1780. The Recôncavo, Bahia. African-born slavesgo to the forest to worship through music and dance. In "Ama" ,my first novel, in chapter 32, I have attempted an imaginative reconstruction of the origins of Candomblé.


Judith Gleason is the author of a remarkable (and, regrettably, out of print)novel, called Agotime, Her LegendAgotime tells the storyof the eponymous historical queen of Dahomey who, on the death of her husband,is enslaved and shipped to Brazil.  Highly recommended to all with aninterest in Candomblé.

I did a search on JudithGleason at the Amazon site and this is what it turned up, in addition toAgotime.MH

This Africa, 1965

Orisha: The Gods of Yorubaland, 1971

Santeria, Bronx, 1975

Leaf and Bone : African Praise-Poems, JudithGleason (Editor), published 1980 and 1994

A recitation of Ifa, oracle of the Yoruba

Oya : In Praise of an African Goddess, 1992

There is a review of only the last of these,which reads as follows: fromUSA , June 21, 1998

Very good and interestingreading. Hepan Heyi !!

This is the best book written on the matter ofthe goddess Oya. I am an Oya priestess and I have not only found this book to bevery illustrative, it contains prayers, patakis, and a totally different versionof the "Oya" then the one the western world has attempted toillustrate.

The author is very well informed and the contextis well written.

However, I would have given it a higher ratingshould the author not have gone into the lengthy discussion of Oya's role in thewinds and atmosphere. Although the author's information on the matter is quitegood and informative, I would have liked to have seen more context on the works,principals and patakis of Oya than a lengthy discussion on her role in the windsand atmosphere.

Nonetheless, I would recommend this book to anyOya priest/ess or follower , student, or practicioner of the Yoruba religion.
H-NET List for African History and Culture[H-AFRICA@H-NET.MSU.EDU]
Date:   Fri, 05 Nov 1999
From:   Mamaissii Dansi Hounon
"Wonders of the African World": Reply

As an initiated and practicing Mami Wata andVodoun priestess, with direct ancestral roots in this particular branch ofAfrican religion, I too found Gates' treatment ofWest African Vodoun to be both condescending, and stereotypical of how most inthe world have been socialized to view African Traditional Religions andcosmology.

What is more tragic, is that someone of Gates'professional stature, going to Africa, and publicly undermining the traditionalspiritual treatment by the "fetish" priest ( i.e., "I think hemight have malaria" . . . as oppose to a "spirit" foundation forthe client's illness), and his atrocious treatment of West African Vodoun, (assuperstitious "magic" focused primarily on debauchery),  has madeour job, and attempt at gaining respectand visibility even more difficult.

Thousands (if not millions) of Africans broughtto the "New World" as slaves were threatened, beaten, maimed,tortured, murdered and legally prohibited from practicing  their Africanreligions, (i.e., honoring their gods and ancestors) in an orchestrated attemptto disconnect and "de-africanize" them from the vital source of theirprofound connection to their homeland.

The religious persecution of Africans is the mostunderreported crime in the annals of slave, colonial and modern history. It is spuriously unquestioned, and even acceptable dogma for some to proclaim  that perhaps our ancestors'"conversion" to Christianity was, though forced, a lamentablenecessity, and is even viewed as something "good" that evolved fromslavery.

Additionally, today, African TraditionalReligions are still one of the only major, ancient spiritual traditions that arefair game for horrific malignant, "superstitious study" and debasementby many a "researcher" and popular Western culture. "Fortunately,"  they have Gates tothanks for validating that even he foundthem "interestingly trivial,"  and unworthy of seriousexamination, respect and dignity.


Gbadegesin, Segun, AfricanPhilosophy: Traditional Yoruba Philosophy and Contemporary African Realities. New York: Peter Lang (1991) 

Herskovitz, Mellville J TheMyth of the Negro Past Beacon

Thompson V. B., TheMaking of the African Diaspora in the Americas 1441-1900 Longmans

Valladares, Clarival Do Prado (ed) The Impactof African Culture on Brazil, Rio de Janeiro 1977