African Continuities in the Afro-Caribbean Religious Complex: An Examination of the 1994 Iyalorisha Installation Process for the Opa Orisha (Shango) Movement of Trinidad
Saadia Nicoe Wiggins
Thesis DT 3.5 1996 W655
xi, 115 leaves: ill.; 29 cm.
This thesis is an investigation of African continuities in the Diaspora. Continuities are those elements of African cultural institutions which serve as indicators of traditional African folkways. These elements have evolved out of a necessity to combat the hostile conditions imposed upon Africans by western cultural hegemony. This project presents religious institutions as one paradigm in the study of African continuities. Religion for Africans, at home and abroad, serves as an umbrella for other African cultural forums. Therefore, I focus primarily, but not exclusively, on religious matrices for the projects.
With emphasis place on the Opa Orisha (Shango) religious movement of Trinidad, I explore the ceremonial rituals of the 1994 installation process for new Iyalorisha. The ritual performances serves as a phenomenon which indicate: 1) the various processes that influence African continuities; 2) the re-invention of traditional practices in progress; 3) the complexities of Afro-Caribbean religions; and 4) the application of odu, ori as well as the aesthetics of Shango, Obatala, Iro and Gele cloths within the Yoruba cosmology.
While this investigation is presented in an historical perspective, it facilitates theories developed within anthropological discourse as well as socio-political concentrations. It explores theoretical components of an Afro-Caribbean religious complex while comparatively analyzing contemporary and folk traditions. This thesis is informed by several theories presented within the field, data collected during 1994 fieldwork in Trinidad, photographic materials taken of Orisha compounds and ceremonial rituals, interviews with Orisha followers and leaders, as well as archival materials consulted to solidify an objective in this study on African continuities.