Drewal, Henry John. (2008) ”Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas”, Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 79 Another mask to be considered is from Freetown and was more likely carved by Temne artist Amara Kamara who at the time of my research had several sculptures of Mammy Wata in his home. The female Hindu facial mark on the forehead and between the eyes indicates that this character may represent Mammy Wata with dreadlocks, possibly a reference to Rasta boys of the Caribbean and by extension the mermaids Lasiren and/or Yemanja. A photograph of the mask worn with complete costume is revealing. The suit, assembled and worn by Amara Kamara, includes a blond wig, lace scarf, and cloth shawl together with a full-length skirt, long stockings, and gloves. Rather than a representation of Mammy Wata, this character may simply depict a Freetown woman, sought by young men through the spirit of Mammy Wata.
I spent a lot of time with Her today, what with prettying up how Her jewelry is stored and sprinkling Her perfume and dancing like a lunatic in front of the altar for a half an hour. In turn, She gave me the glorious ecstatic state that comes from dealing with the Lwa and it’s delicious and gives me a lot of energy.
However, if She’d like something specific beyond what I gave Her today, She needs to use Her words instead of consistently showing Herself to me from every possible angle. I don’t speak mermaid more than knowing that She is asking for attention and while She’s lovely, mermaids from every angle feels a bit Fatal Attraction-y.
A branding sear of heat crazes my thigh. As the pain bites, I learn the words: brand, sear, heat, thigh. I scream again, swallowing salt. Iron holds me, I can’t control my direction. I roll about, caught in a myriad memories of dark shipspace, slotted in berths too narrow to let me move far. My chains hold me tied to something—no, someone. I’m too hot then too wet, being tossed and tossed and awash in nausea. Something in me cramps, again. It hurts. Bloody stinking fluxes leak from holes I hadn’t known I had. I vomit up the salt sea.
Time does not flow for me. Not for me the progression in a straight line from earliest to latest. Time eddies. I am now then, now there, sometimes simultaneously.
Sounds, those are sounds, from another place. I have heard them before, or am hearing them now, or will hear them later. Three sounds: Song. Prayer. Scream. From a riverbank, from the throats of black women. The ululated notes vibrate the chains that tie me to the ship. I thrash my arms in response, learning that they are arms the second I move them. The iron links of the chains break. Freed, I push out in front of me with my fingers. Those things kicking behind me are my legs. I pump them harder. Begin to rise, rise up through blue water. No, I am not drowning. I do not seem to be a breathing creature, to be drowning. I rise faster and faster till I am flying. The water heats from the speed of my passing—heats but does me no harm—boils to mist until it isn’t any longer liquid, but clouds I am flying through. How do I know them as clouds?
How do I know anything? How is it that my arms stretched out in front of me are so pale? How do I even know they should be brown like rich riverbank mud, as they were when I was many goddesses with many worshippers, ruling in lands on the other side of a great, salty ocean? I used to be many, but now we are one, all squeezed together, many necks in one coffle.