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Iwakiri: The Quest for African Spirituality

Iwakiri: The Quest for Afrikan Spirituality by Ahosu Agelo Djísoví Agbòví I, takes the reader into a provocative journey of transcending the questionable identity of Africans in the Diaspora who desire to reclaim their cultural and spiritual roots.

What drew me to this book was the concept of finding a set of beliefs and practices to unify those of us in the Diaspora. This related strongly with the author’s own search where he states that…

For me and many others it is a result of a long and often arduous search into what it means to be New Afrikan here in America and how we can best operate within that context according to the traditions of our own Ancestors.

Ayinon (His Royal Majesty) Axosu (king or traditional paramount ruler in Danxome culture) is a lecturer, work shop presenter, and author of the Isese ( or Orisa) and Dahomey Vodun tradition. He is an initiated priest and officially crowned king in the Dahomey Vodun tradition and culture represented here in America.

My expectation of this book, from a comparative point of view, was that it would merely offer commonalities among the varying traditions, and relate them to Christianity (or monotheism to be more precise). For me, this has been the extent of studies on the topic of comparative African religion, always trying to legitimize the traditions.

While offers the same, with a bit of the rhetorical, post-, reparation discourse, it did fulfill the its promise as it also…

takes the reader beyond the conceptual similarities into a realm of integrative Afrikan spiritual practice.

What Ayinon proposes is what seems to be the wave within the Diaspora, a resurgence of and it’s underlying esoteric and metaphysical principles. As a student of metaphysics, I was delighted!

The chapters of the book sadly betray the depth of the scholarship. Titles such as African Spirituality, African Religion, African-American Religion, World and Comparative Religion, African and African-American Studies, Vodun, Yoruba and West African Religions, belying the deep esoteric nature of the author’s discourse. It takes diving into the pages to discover:

  • the true meaning of iwakiri – a Yoruba term for quest or soul search
  • how Africans in the Diaspora are divided by the same mentality imposed through European colonization
  • why many who proclaim their connection to African tradition do so with mere lip service
  • that the religions of Western people can be traced to a founder, a holy place and a defining culture, allowing for a sense of connection wherever they are
  • why African priests/priestesses need to begin documenting African spiritual beliefs before all is lost and forgotten
  • …and much more.

While I am a bit hesitant about homogeneity of one’s spiritual practice,  preferring the richness inherit in all African spiritual traditions, I will admit that I learned much about Ifa. It broadened my understanding, and my willingness, to consider the principles as a means of unifying the minds and mentalities of Africans in the Diaspora. We struggle to find our place, our identity, devoid as we are of direct connection to our tribes of origin.

The term iwakiri is now in my vocabulary and the book is well worth the read!


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