From my journal:
We talked a lot on the way back, about all kinds of things. We talked almost non stop too.
I’m really glad oyasdawta and I became friends again. She’s a cool person, and I just think it’s great she’s my cousin. It made the next day more meaningful.
We slept in the same bed that night, and as usual, her ribald sense of humour had me cackling way too early in the morning. (Way too many fart jokes.) Sunday morning, I was struggling with what to wear to go and see Oya, but came across a lilac horizontal striped dress I had bought to wear to GC’s wedding.
oyasdawta and I dressed and she gave a beautiful piece of sheer cloth to wrap around my head, and ,went to meet Big Mama K. After we met BMK, we caught a car into town and met up with a few other people, and caught a bus to down South.
Somewhere before we reached San Fernando, we got out and got a maxi heading to Princes Town. The Iya holding the festival, did it at her palais,
It was a somewhat ‘put together’ structure, with bare dusty earth as the floor and high ledges all around for sitting. I suspect every couch and almost every chair in the Iya’s house was out there.
We went into Oya’s shrine, and put some melongen for her, and said a few words into her space asking for protection and guidance.
After that, the ceremony began. Iya gave us all an introduction to Oya, an Orisa I had no experience with, and knew little of. She also had said to the fifty or sixty people gathered, that that she wanted to pay her respects to me and thank me for writing an article on the Egungun festival a few months earlier. She said I created a lot of Change with it, and then the whole gathering saluted me! It was amazing. I think I was blushing, but it was just overwhelming. I was very touched, very moved.
It was the first time I have ever been publicly honoured for anything I’ve written. I was very thankful, and touched by the respect.
Although my knee was hurting me, I couldn’t keep still once they started dancing. We danced and sang for Ancestors (Egun) first, and sang for all the Orisas in turn.
I may have started off a sequence of events, but it was after we broke for lunch that Mama Kambiri and I locked gazes for a moment — there was singing and drumming, babies crying and suck — and she leaned across the distance between us, I met her halfway and said to me, “Why don’t you ask Iya about your knee?”
I looked at Iya across the room, and she and I caught each others eyes, she got up and came right over to me.
“Did you need to talk to me?”
“I need to do something about my knee.” I kind of whispered, if you can whisper over the sound of drums and singing.
She gestured for me to come, telling me to put my hands on her shoulders. I made my way, slowly across the palais and she led me into her Ancestral shrine, pass the dancers in the centre of the room. oyasdawta had danced earlier too.
When we got into the shrine, she poured libation on her altar, and instructed me to do the same.
Then she asked me to tell her what was wrong with my knee.
I told her what the doctor said, and then I told her what Mama Osun said when she manifested in the Lopinot river, in January (2003.) Mama Osun had said then that someone was jealous of me, and holding me down.
Then the Iya help her hands and surrounded my knee without actually touching it, and vibrated the air around my knee. My knee and then my whole leg began to tingle from hip to ankle.
She told me to stand there and pray, to the Ancestors. She left me alone, telling me that I should stand there, bent in the paying of respects position and continue to pray.
So I asked for guidance, protection, strength and wisdom. My legs were tingling, after I felt it was time to move, I sat down in the closest available seat, one close to the door of the palais, the front row as it were, the dancers in front of me.
I don’t really remember sitting down, just being in the seat, and then dancing next. At first I just shuffled around in a circle, and then really began to dance.
There was another sister there, and quite suddenly, her dancing became more intense than the others, enticing and displaying. She and I were separated by a few people, and I was off to one side.
I watched as she danced, and she looked up at me, dead in the eye, and she came over to me, for the first time in more than two years, I got this strong mental, physical, psychic impression of Keffi and her energy. I saw her face, and her cornrows, even though this woman looked nothing like her and had her head wrapped.
I started to cry, I was overwhelmed all of a sudden. She embraced me, and danced with me, her arms wrapped around me, a sisterly side by side embrace. Someone brought her water, and she released me and she bathed my legs down.
She did things to my knees — smacked the right one so hard it stung, touched and rubbed water into the left one. She washed my face with water, and she knelt on the floor, looking at me up and down, then rubbed water over my belly as well, nodding her head.
We danced, and danced. I danced! I sang the songs, and never knew the words, don’t remember them either. Not until someone sings them again.
When I started to tire, after two three hours of dancing,