african cosmologies

Nkisi. Kongo Spiriuality

The plant life. The animal life. The minerals and the environment are all a part of you. Cater for them as much as they will cater for you.

Every African family or clan has a totem even to till day. If your totem is an animal, you cannot eat the animal. You cannot harm the animal. Even if you have to kill an animal for food,it has to be in good faith and abuse the animal in anyway or form.

In Akan spirituality, depending on the day you are born, you are given a name. That  name and day are governed by a celestial body. You therefore become a Kwa, a servant or subject to the abosom/deity or that celestial body. A total and complete submission to the Abosom from birth to death. It guides and help fulfills your purpose on earth.

It is from these elements and many others that birthed both Islam and Christianity. Both religions are practically African religions or spirituality with Arab names,Arab faces,white faces and white names attached. That is all they are.

If you are an African,a Muslim or Christian, you might as well return to the original source of both religion. With nature being the true source.

No need to hold back and feel sorry telling OUR-STORY. They showed none during our enslavement. We are not here to pander to anyone.


Cuba is home not only to Lukumi, or Santeria, but to a variety of Afro-Cuban religions and societies. The four most well-known are: Lukumi; Arara; Palo; and Abakua. Other, less well known Afro-Cuban religions include: Cuban Vodú (Haitian Vodou in Cuba); and Bembe muertera de sao (an old, rural form of Afro-Cuban religion that shares much in common with Palo and Vodú). Due to the non-exclusivity of West and Central African religious cosmologies, practitioners may practice a number of these religions at the same time, though this practice is done separately. In Lukumi, it’s generally believed that Lukumi’s kariocha ceremony to priesthood must be the last and thus most important initiation received, due to the Orichas’ royal status.

Lukumi (first photo)

Also known as la regla de Ocha or Santeria, Lukumi is by far the largest Afro-Cuban religion and has spread globally since the Cuban Revolution. Lukumi centres on the worship of Orisha - Yoruba deities - and is organized through decentralized but hierarchical ilés (houses). There are three forms of priesthood within the religion: Olorichas (who become Iyalorichas and Babalorichas, depending on gender, when they initiate their own Godchildren); Oriates (ritual masters of ceremony, traditionally women but more recently dominated by men); and Babalawos (straight male diviners initiated into the secrets of the Oricha Orunmila). Lukumi is a largely female-oriented religion, with an historically high prevalence of LGBT practitioners.

Arara (second photo)

Arara is a distinct ethnic and religious group deriving from the Fon people. Their worship centres around deities called fodunces / vodunces, such as Afrekete and Masé. Like Lukumi, they have their own distinct language, songs, and drum patterns. However, the religion has absorbed many aspects of Lukumi and today closely resembles Lukumi structure. Lukumi and Arara priests often work together, particularly around the ceremonies for Asojano (Babalu Aye in Lukumi), who is believed to be Arara in origin. Orichas related closely to Babalu Aye, such as Nana Buruku and Nanu, are also seen as Arara in origin and so Lukumi priests may often employ Arara to work these ceremonies for them. Aspects of Arara have also been absorbed into Lukumi, including a number of songs and word-borrowings. Arara is often said to “not cross water,” and as a result there has been little effort to practice the religion outside of Cuba.

Palo (third photo)

Palo is a Cuban religion derived from the Bantu-speaking peoples of West-Central Africa. Though derisively referred to as the “dark side of Santeria,” Palo is a separate religion. Palo is concerned primarily with nfumbe (spirits of the dead) and mpungo (deities). Palo has a bad reputation due to the use of human bones, however it is a religion based in healing. Palo is divided into several ramas (branches), such as Mayombe and Brillumba, and organized through munansos (communities) headed by Tatas (male priests) and Yayas (female priests). It is a male-oriented religion and traditionally not open to LGBT people (though this is controversial and there are a number of LGBT tatas and yayas out there). It is likely the second most popular Afro-Cuban religion.

Abakua (fourth photo)

Abakua is a men’s secret society that derives from the Ekpe people of Nigeria and Cameroon. Often referred to as the “leopard society,” it’s members are called Ñañígos and are seen dancing in outfits as pictured in the photo. They are highly secretive, so not a great deal is known about them but they have their own language, dance styles, drumming, and religious cosmology.

This is Pt. 8 of my series of posts giving info on the mpungo, the pantheon of Palo Mayombe and other Congo based belief systems. Today we’ll learn about Baluande (Kalunga):

[Kimpungulu are the primary deities of the native Congo religion and its diaspora in the Americas. The singular form of kimpungulu is mpungo or mpungu, and in the Americas, where few devotees speak proper kikongo, and plurals are usually designated by the addition of a final letter “s”, a novel back-formation of the plural has been coined, so these gods and goddesses are more familiarly known as the mpungos]:

The Mysteries of Baluande

by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold from Palo Mayombe: In The Garden of Blood and Bones:

Baluande represents the embodiment of the mothers as they manifest in the waters. Baluande embodies the powers that made Tiembla Tierra possible. Through their interaction the wisdom of the mountains flows within the waters of ancestral memory. The etymology is difficult, but might signify that which is on the surface and that which is most elevated. This can be the surface resting on the Kalunga itself, the water-mirror, hence she is popularly known as Madre de Agua or Mama Kalunga. The Kalunga is in particular the salty waters of the great oceans but is also the realm of death, or perhaps more properly Kalunga is the realm of active ancestry. The ancestors that continue to influence us are understood differently to the modern Western idea of the dead. Ancestors are found both in the waters and in the centre of the earth. The latter in Kikongo called Kumangongo and though similar to Hades, we need to understand this as a good thing. A similar division of death is found in Nordic myths. Here we find two realms, one is relegation to the waters and the golden halls of Ran, while the other is Valhall situated in the centre of divinity. The latter is reserved for warriors and hunters, those who died in bravery and with honor. The kingdom of Ran was just as wonderful as Valhall – but Ran also gained dominion over the mysterious, and what was on the brink of the natural. The fact that the ocean does not produce but rather consumes light brings another important factor into the equation, and one which might explain the waters as the medium not for change and movement, but for transformation and metamorphosis.

Baluande is also known as Mpungo Kasimba, meaning spirit that lives in the cavity of the waters, clearly a reference to the occult and hidden virtues of water as it hides within the mountain. She is also Mbumba Mamba, secret of the water or serpent of the water, in the sense of fertility and abundance. The same idea is found in Nkita Kiamasa and Nkita Kuna Mamba. Her association with snakes and fertility seem to be the most salient aspects of her potency. It is an mpungo considered to induce stability and joy in one’s life and brings riches, comfort, and wealth. She is a tremendous force when it comes to altering one’s fortune. This spirit is also referred to only as Mboma or Mbomba meaning serpent, boa, python (mboma-ndongo) and this tells us of the importance of both waters and serpents in African cosmology. Baluande is the power behind transformations on every scale, from turning a poor man into a rich man, to turning an unfavorable situation to ones benefit, to the Trans-Atlantic Crossing. This specter of manifestation testifies to her serpentine nature – which is one of secrecy and unpredictability. A serpent can never be really tamed, as the waters can never be tamed. Baluande gives riches freely and abundantly, but she is also the serpent that spins the wheel in the hands of Fortune.

As Mama Kalunga she was syncretised with La Virgen de Regla who in turn was seen as the orisas Yemoja and Olokun. She is the patron of sailors, fishermen, mermaids and mermen and all transitions and discoveries concerning water.

Other names given to her are Kalunga Mpaka Ndoki, Mayanguera, Patrón de los Congos, Bamba di Ngola, and Muana Lango.


(Ba)Kongo cosmograms 

Although specialists use “emblem”, “symbol” and related terms for Kongo cosmograms (dikenga), they stress that whether performed, found, or inscribed, all map complex, dynamic relations systems of knowledge. The sign is thus the tip of philosophical iceberg, and like these floating accretions, always emergent (dingo-dingo) above and below the Kalinga waters. Multidimensional “dikenga ideology” interconnects the perpetual solar round; course of all well lived life; relationships of person to community, ancestors and future generations; give-and-take of debate; political structure of local and larger polities; responsibilities of leaders and specialists’ and relationship of humanity to other creatures and land all with modes of transformation from one state of being to another.

Although “symbol” is a handy portmanteau term, the dikenga is not a unitary symbol analogous to Christian cross or national flag. Nor are some rendering more “pure” than others; rather variations attune to diverse contexts and purposes without which the dikenga could not exist or persist. Although variants like the diamond shaped metopic spot representing the soul on the foreheads o niombo figure, and the yowa do signal particular identities in appropriate contexts depends on being reducible to the identities or any single trajectory of meaning. Rather, an ensemble of practices, meaning, and the recombinant intuitional forms comprise a nexus or personal and group identity. Also, therefore, the dikenga is not tied to any given set of intuitions. Indeed, the key premise of dikenga ideology is that nothing ever survives “intact” because nothing ever survive in a fixed form.

Also, given extensive pre- and postcolonial Bantu migrations, wars, traumas in individual lifetimes, and the vast reach of related terms and concepts in Africa and the America, it stands to reason that people have used mnemonic signs to help them continually remane a recognisable world. An enduring moral compass, the dikenga offers guidance for peaceful and violent times alike. From an “Africanist perspective” then, the cosmograms attests to the significance of Kongo and Bantu thought, often in terms cognate with other African cosmologies. From a diasporic perspective it sums up a vast resource pool on which captives could draw to confront oppression in strange lands they worked to make their own.

Standing Female figure  (by the Lumbo a Bakongo subgroup/tribe) Arts of Africa collection South Gallery, Brooklyn Museum

“This figure’s arms and its diamond and cross insignia refer to the “four moments of the sun”—dawn (birth), noon (life at its fullest), sunset (the end of life’s journey), and, finally, for those who lead exemplary lives, a second dawn (rebirth)”

  • The Kongo Cosmogram in Historical Archaeology and the Moral Compass of Dave the Potter by Grey Gundaker[Historical Archaeology]

Abibifo civilisation.

It is believed the Mesopotamia created the 7-day week. This is  based on the movement of the sun, the moon and the planets.

Do the Akan people have a 7 day week based on the movement of the planetary bodies? Yes we do.

Do the current occupiers have a 7 day week based on the movement of the planetary bodies? No they don’t. 

The plotting of the movement of awia (sun) the osram (moon) and the kyinkyin nrsoma (planets) are all African concepts, Europeans took and never credited us for it.

This is the reason we call ourselves Kwesi/Akosua. Kwadwo/Adjoa. Kwabena/Abena. Kweku/Akua. Yaa/Yaw. Kofi/Efia. Kwame/Ama all based and named after the planetary bodies.

For the Bantu, a person lives and moves within an ocean of waves/radiations. One is sensitive or immune to them. To be sensitive to waves is to be able to react negatively or positively to those waves/forces. But to be immune to surrounding waves/forces, is to be less reactive to them or not at all. These differences account for varying degrees in the process of knowing/learning among individuals.
—  African Cosmology of the Bantu Kongo

Nude. Let’s have a microscopic look at Nude. Unclothed, stretching into bare, leaning upon nudus, jumping over naked. Therein lies the etymology of the word. Here’s an observation on nudity and sexuality: Europeans are obsessed with the penis and the mystique of the female nude, and the male, too, The greeks and the romans in particular.. They were told by Sigmund Freud that sex is the basis for primal motivation… Africa, on the other hand, does not see nudity as the primal motivation for existence, rather, nudity is natural in the african cosmology, that is why you see women with breasts exposed. We see nudity as a natural condition of the human experience - Words by the Jamaican artist Barbara von Enger in an interview with German radio.

#Inktober today is Neil Degrasse Tyson the American astrophysicist, cosmologist, and the man on the front lines of bringing science back into the American psyche.  He continuation of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos was the motivator for me to focus on scientists’ portraits for Inktober.  

I thought he needed to have an action shot.  He also has great expressions with his hands.  

1. Cairo (capital of modern Egypt) derived from “Al Qahir” the Arabic name of the planet Mars also known as the Red Planet. The planet Mars happens to be intertwined with Ancient Egypt in curious ways…

2. Dogon people claimed they came from the planet Sirius, & they knew about Sirius way before any technology or the Nasa… Westerners thought these people were crazy until they created a high quality telescope to see it for themselves, fyi Sirius B is impossible to see with a naked eye!

3. Abyssinians (Ethiopians) people claimed they came from the planet Mars = Al Qahir also know as The Red Planet…

4. The Zulu people claimed they came from the skies…

5. In the legend of the Bakongo people there’s a story about the “gods” in the sky..

6. The first rulers of Rwanda-Urundi were known as “Imanugera” the ascending ones…

7. The origin and meaning of the word Kenya is unknown. It is thought, however, to derive from the words Kininyaga in Kikuyu, Kirenyaa in Embu, and Kiinyaa in Kamba, all of which mean “god’s resting place".

8. In the Book of the Coming Forth by Day and Night the ancient people of Khemet (Egypt) clearly stated “We came from the beginning of the Nile where the God Hapi dwells, at the foothills of the Mountain of the Moon.” Kilimanjaro- between Kenya and Tanzania, or Rwenzori in Uganda.
In those location you find indigenous people who worship mountain…

Ancient African mastered cosmology & astrology without any technology & all the fancy stuff… Why are people surprised when they hear stuff like there is life on Mars ? Or they’ve discovered new planets?

Khemet (Egypt) was the last civilization African people built! People came from Kenya, Azania (Tanzania), Sudan, Abyssinia (Ethiopia) after they had mastered all sort of craft like agriculture, architecture, painting & more… To build what we know today as ancient Egypt with all it’s wonders. These ancestors were so bad that they engraved everything in stones so nobody could destroy it. However I do understand that it’s less challenging to say that Africa knew nothing before colonization…

—  The I