Over the last couple of months, I’ve been working on the foundation of my upcoming African Elemental series. In some ways, it’s been an adventure. Research always does that to writers. It’s a form of the creative process or creativity. Because I write dark paranormal, I don’t have to be as historically accurate or as precise as other authors. But it begs the critical question, when you’re unfamiliar with a culture or tradition, how far should you go? Then it dawned on me, why am I so unfamiliar with West African gods and goddesses? I don’t seem to have this disconnect with Greek, Roman, or Norse ones. What’s up with that?
It got me to thinking about how devoid the information has been and more specifically why I know so much about European gods and goddesses. It’s a bit of a quandary, really, but then I realized that I learned what I know in high school and college. I had several required courses where I had to study “classical literature” that introduced, shaped, and formed my knowledge.
I guess in fairness to the educational system, I did receive formal education on Egyptian gods and goddesses but then most don’t consider Egyptians to be Black or African. Scratching my head. For the most part, what I’ve learned about West African gods and goddesses has been through self-education or personal research. Because of this, there is a wealth of knowledge or cultural understanding that is, simply, lost to me.
I’m guessing that’s the plight of African Americans. We seem to be removed from our African cultural history. So, I’ll admit it. I’m flat out ignorant when it comes to this subject but there’s something that’s deep inside that wants me to share or tell my fictionalized account of West African gods and goddesses. It’s just a strong feeling.
So in my African American mind, I was able to piece together a West African pantheon for my series. I had one rule, if the name of the West African god or goddess made it to the shores of the Americas then I could work with it. Because I’m working with Africana elementals, I tried to pick from a variety of countries, nations, or groups to build my world. Here’s what I’ve developed so far:
Nana Buluku (Postive Force)
Guhruhi (Negative Force)
Nyame (Creator of Souls)
Obatala (Sculptor of Mankind)
Asase Ya (Earth)
Eshu (Trickster and Messenger)
Gua (Thunder and Lightening)
In my series, I’ve chosen a goddess that has fascinated me for years. Mawu, Earth goddess, has captured my interest and so in this series, she is a prime elemental and the final protector of this universe. Readers will be please to know that there’s lots of sacrifice, love, and fight in this series. I’m hoping that people will enjoy it.
I did come across this wonderful rendition of the Yoruba Orishas by a photographer, here in the ATL. It gave me an inspirational visual.