Mami Wata aka the Little Mermaid

The joke is on Black people; all the time. Black America, discussing the Black version of the Little Mermaid, is a fascinating subject. Not because it is a subject about Mermaids, but because as much as white conservatives say why can’t things stay the way they were, Black people seem to think that mermaids were in fact originally white! Is it too far-fetch to understand why would a white person in America and or in Europe, want to whiten something that was black? Where is white power, white lives matter, and white pride when you need them?

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Aquatic deities have been a part of African Diasporic communities since the dawn of time. SDMNEWS highlights a different approach as opposed to the racist conversations Black America find themselves in.

Was it racist about Europe wanting a white version of the African mermaid deity and principle? How eye-opening is it to be flattered instead of offended? The white American psyche doesn’t ponder if something had roots in Blackness or in Africaness in terms of hate; well not enough to be repulsed by it, they just recreate the image into their own likeness and in a cognitive manner, they just disconnect the image from its origin.

NO HARM, NO FOUL, RIGHT?

But then the question becomes, Did Black People Know the Little Mermaid was African in the first place?

And why have black parents not told their little girls the “Little Mermaid” character has been Black and Latino before she was white?

The joke is on Black people; all the time. Black America, discussing the Black version of the Little Mermaid, is a fascinating subject. Not because it is a subject about Mermaids, but because as much as white conservatives say why can’t things stay the way they were, Black people seem to think that mermaids were in fact originally white! Is it too far-fetch to understand why would a white person in America and or in Europe, want to whiten something that was black? Where is white power, white lives matter, and white pride when you need them?

SDMNEWS creates the conversation from the aspect of a group of people deciding to see the world from their perspective. The first world is black and was Black. Black is used in this context as the origin, archetype, or first! Black people need to re-adjust the energy about race. It needs to be addressed as if it is a psycho-social and mental health crisis and not an ISM without its Host; liken to a present-day ebola or corona-virus spread by animals.

There is no subject here! Besides a lesson for black people to ignore the conversation altogether! UNLESS we have a MAMI WATA dialog of how all cultures should have their own version of MAMI WATA aka The Little Mermaid. A dumbass conversation about a WHITE VERSION OF A ORIGINAL, BLACK VERSION is simply ridiculous.

THIS IS FACTS: The WHITE copied version done by a Europen goes like this: Originally published in 1836 by Hans Christian Andersen, “The Little Mermaid,” as novelist Amber Sparks notes in the Paris Review, was a tragic, existential folk tale centered on a mermaid’s longing for an immortal soul. Andersen described the sixth and youngest daughter of the Sea King as “the prettiest of them all; her skin was as clear and delicate as a rose-leaf, and her eyes as blue as the deepest sea.” Yet her beauty held only superficial, fleeting value: As a soulless nonhuman, she was destined to dissolve into sea foam after death. In an ill-fated attempt to gain a soul, the little mermaid pursues the love of a human prince but ultimately fails and kills herself in resignation.

In the African version, Mami Wata is a source of inspiration and high emotional intelligence, she guides our emotions through the inspiration of our internal waters. As we venture into the eye-opening perspective, the other lies about Black children preferring the white doll in the landmark Black Doll vs. the White Doll test; as a way to stop Black children from being educated by black teachers is debunked when you see how excited Black children are to their faces in movies. Re-imaging Racism as the mental health crisis is the new headline.

HISTORY OF MERMAIDS IN AFRICA

African culture has portrayed the idea of the mermaid in many ways across the continent. It has also been observed that certain features are similar across these variations; she has the same purpose to seduce, beguile and intrigue mankind. She shrouds herself in her mysticism, attractiveness and, above all, her vengeance.

Typical accounts of her appearance in African Mythology, describes a beautiful woman with flowing black hair and an angelic gaze used to entrap or bewilder her spectator (not forgetting fin-like tail with a torso and head of a human).
She goes by many names such as Mami Wata (translated to Mother Water) in West Africa to Mamba Muntu in Swahili (east). Nonetheless, they all transcend mankind’s metaphysical perceptions of reality. The history of how the mermaid developed in these cultures stemmed from a broader being in the belief of these mystical creatures. Most accounts of how Mami Wata or Mamba Muntu came to be the main symbol of aquatic deities originated from a belief in “water spirits”. These spirits are often referred to as minions or soldiers, often males, for the higher deities, such as Mami Wata or Mamba Muntu, where they would kidnap, trick or deceive fisherman and seafarers to sacrifice or tithe to them.
These male figures have been known to become “spirit husbands” for entranced women. This overarching belief in water spirits developed the specific deities of cultures through the framework of societal identity, spiritual direction, and historical beliefs.

THE MYTH OF THE MERMAID ACROSS THE SEA

On all accounts there is a gender associated with the belief of mermaids. A maternal deity that has a sexual power over her captives and because of this she commands great sacrifice and obedience for the reward. In comparison to the mermaid of European cultures, the mermaid isn’t so much a powerful deity than just a seductive siren that hopes to entice and seduce mortal men. In the European version of the mermaid she has the same physical appearance, half fish and half human, but her intentions and actions are not as metaphysical as the African counterparts. She has a playful personality, boasts an alluring singing voice and beautiful complexion that she uses to entice seagoing explorers.
As the myth tells us, while at sea, a seafaring mortal catches a glimpse of a mermaid, and to their bewilderment and amazement of this beautiful woman they attempt to make contact with the mermaid. Using her beauty and voice she sings a song to lure the seaman into the water where she then drowns them at the bottom of the sea. The legend varies whether this is intentional or not. Many claim it’s a circumstance of her playful nature, others say it’s a killing tactic. This version of the mermaid is framed as a sea creature only found in physical form who doesn’t appear in dreams or grant great wealth, but rather is an enigmatic entity whose purpose is to seduce humans.

Nonetheless, Mami Wata or the European mermaid has great power over mortals. For centuries across the globe she has toiled with explorers, fisherman and natives that would all advise to stay away from her or suffer the same fate as many have before.

Known as IBIBIO MAMI WATA or also known as Mary Magdalena, this
depeiction is from the Nigerian Oron people. This picture is from a book written
by Sabine Jell-Bahisen called In Search of the Water Spirits.

MAMI WATA OF WESTERN AFRICA

Mami Wata is the term most used to refer to the mermaid entity in African culture. Although the origins of her creation cannot be pinpointed, it is likely to have originated around the coast of Guinea and fondly used in other West African cultures such as Ghana & Nigeria. Mami Wata has become the most prominent water spirit of African folklore due to the fact that she can be referenced more as a concept rather than a single being.

Her powers have been known to be very gratuitous by granting wealth, health, assistance with procreation or simply power in society. As easy as she can grant success, she can also grant misfortune because to have these fortunes granted upon you from Mami Wata would mean the sacrifice of a family member in return or celibacy in the mortal realm. She’s often addressed and materialized in the dreams of her captive where she can employ her seductive powers. As her origins were spawned on the western coast of Africa she has been linked to stories from diamond miners who believe that she can grant luck in finding diamonds.

Conversely, originating from central Africa, Mamba Muntu has similar characteristics. According to folklore, Mamba Muntu can be found combing her hair upon the rocks of a shore and if one were to attain a lock of hair or even her comb then they would expect to see her in a dream. In that dream, they would use these objects to barter with her to obtain what they desire in exchange that they never speak of such an encounter.

Despite the vast cultures in Africa and the aquatic deities affiliated with them, the mermaid is probably the commonest similarity. Differences can be spotted in how they are portrayed artistically. For example, Mami Wata is often portrayed holding a serpent or snake whereas Mamba Muntu is displayed with crocodiles, some are found in lakes and rivers while others in seas and oceans. Mermaids are known by different names in Africa, Mawu-Lisu in Benin, Mamlambo in South Africa, Mmnuommiri in Nigeria or Mamba Muntu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo all roughly translate to “Mother Water”, “Lady of the water” or something similar to it.

Sources:
– Isichei, Elizabeth Allo. Voices of the Poor in Africa. Rochester, NY: U of Rochester, 2002. Print.
– Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diaspora. Http://staff.washington.edu/ellingsn/Drewal-Mami_Wata-AfAr.2008.41.2.pdf. Fowler Museum at UCLA, 6 Apr. 2008. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.
– Fulmer, Jacqueline. Folk Women and Indirection in Morrison, Ní Dhuibhne, Hurston, and Lavin. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print

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