Personal Notes on Sango Swagger KAWO KABIOSILE O as witnessed by Olorisa Marcus Sangodoyin Akinlana.


In my life experience and observation the ever helpful  Orisa Sango usually manifests in two ways: Directly through his initiated Awo and in person (WOW!).  Give you an example, in 1985 I had the pleasure to work at Southside Community Art Center in Chicago with some very serious Agba.  One of whom was Iya Mogba Adekola Adedapo.  At that time, Iya Mogba was a grand dame of culture, this was one cool lady.  She was the chief Sango priest in the area from the Sango temple in Chicago of the Oyotunji lineage.  She dressed from head to toe in stylish traditional African gear.  She seemed to have an unbreakable coolness about her and I could tell she was steeped in culture.  During long hours working in the Art Center she would patiently answer my questions about “what is all this Vudu stuff and what is our cultural heritage in general?”  She made a lasting impression on me with her patient nurturing, teaching and quiet example.  She influenced me by showing me that we the descendants of conquered slaves and Middle Passage survivors actually still had access to our own powerful cultural genius and traditions and they were closer than we knew. 

As it turned out, Iya Mogba was the first in a prestigious line of Sango Awo to appear in my life to help this young roundaway man to develop on his road.  Baba Songodina Ifatunji gave me my first reading that I requested by myself (that is to say not arranged by my mother, herself a Yoruba/Fon/Ewe descendent).  He told me I was about to get a lot of money.  Then bam!, I received my first grant as a professional fine artist shortly thereafter.  “Woweee!, this works”, I said.  With the help of Baba Ifatunji around 1989 I set up my first personal Ojubo Egun (Ancestral Shrine).  Life was good! 

Other notable Sango Awo helped me on my journey.  The late great Babalorisa Sr. Cristobal Cabrera (iba ara t’orun) gave me shrines and training that will be with me and my family for the rest of our days.  Baba Cabrera taught me many things that a man needs to know to lead his family and be successful in this life.  The famous and energetic drummer the late Awo Sundiata Keita (iba ara t’orun) cast divination for me in 1993 with his Sango emblems and a bottle of gin.  He went into a celestial trance and in four hours gave me a reading that is still guiding me until this very date.  “Why are you not already initiated to Sango?” he asked me.  “Your days of childish things are over, get ready”.  


In 1993, I was marked and at the brink of being initiated to the beautiful and powerful Orisa Osun (my mother Orisa).  But as life would have it, it seems that just wasn’t my destiny.  It became apparent to me after not receiving Osa that I found myself in a quandary.  After two years of struggling in life, it occurred to me to return and seek solace from one of the most settled and powerful Awo that I know, Baba Songodina Ifatunji.  “We are going to get you initiated to Sango” he said.  “But in the meantime, you need to receive the shrine of Sango”.  So I travelled to Chicago for three days of intensive work and received my first Sango shrine.  At approximately 3am in the morning on a quiet night with deep blue skies Baba Ifatunji completed my Itan and he said quietly almost in a whisper “well that’s it, we’re done”.   Then, KRACKOOM! a lightning bolt shot across the sky from horizon to horizon, as far as the eye could see and danced energetically back and forth from out of the blue.  KADOOM! then the lightning bolt just disappeared and a light rain began to sprinkle the ground.  KAWO KABIOSILE O!  Baba Sango arrived in person.  What an honor!  To further my amazement, Baba Ifatunji didn’t even seem to be phased.  “Expect miracles” he said.  As you probably guessed, the quality of my life greatly improved after that artistic lightning exhibition by the Oba of Ire.  In fact, Baba Ifatunji with the help of his family, trainees and approximately forty Awo initiated me to Sango at Ile Ifa Jalumi several years later.

Through the good graces of Sango I was able to meet, train with and assist one of the oldest African American Sango Awo in ase in the US, Oluwo Temitayo in the early 90s.  He exposed me to and trained me in the liberating art of Obi Abata divination as bequeathed to him by the late great Baba Epega (iba ara t’orun).  It was good to be in his presence because he was a conscientious diviner.  We performed ebo for people and families, worked well together and watched each others backs. 

Recently, I travelled to Philadelphia to live, paint murals and cast large public sculptures.  When I hit town in the city of the brotherly love, as always Baba Sango, Olufina sent one of his emissaries to look out for me.  An energetic woman called me on the phone, “my name is Kai Jewett” she said.  “I heard you were in town and I want to write an article about your work for the newspapers”.  “Oh and by the way, I’m a Sango priest and I just wanted to make sure you were alright”.  As it turned out Iyalorisa Kai Jewett is a firebrand activist and Awo with ase senior to mine and she introduced me to beaucoup Awo in Philadelphia and made a brother feel at home.  Now you see how Baba works, Sango swagger is in full effect baby.  There is nothing like it, KAWO KABIOSILE O!


Ile Eko Asa Yoruba Ni New Orleans, March 26, 2012.