The History of Women… Oshun, ancient Orisha of Love 

The History of Women… Oshun, ancient Orisha of Love 

Oxun is fertility & love; she is fresh water.  Kissed by the golden nurturing of the sun, she is also beautiful and kind.  

Oshun

Oshun es agua Fresca y ternura, y ella mantiene todo el poder de sensualidad y femeninidad en el mundo. 

The Yoruba religion’s holy stories or patakís reveal Ochún (Oshún) as the youngest of all the Orichás. Olodumare (the supreme being) created earth, and sat back to examine his work. 

 In that instant, He knew what was missing: sweetness and love, the two things that make life worth living. He created Ochún and sent her to earth to cultivate those qualities in others. Ochún is the Orichá of love, her seductive and sensual power encapsulates the feminine ideal. 

 In nature, she rules over rivers. Originally all the waters on earth belonged to Yemayá, who is Ochún’s older sister ( in some stories, her mother). But one day when Ogún was hotly pursuing Ochún across the fields and forests, the young Orichá fell into the river and was dragged away by whirlpools. Yemayá took Ochún under her protection, and gave the rivers to her so she could have her own kingdom. From that point on, the rivers belonged to Ochún and the ocean to Yemayá.

Yemayá and Ochún have a close relationship and often work together, especially in issues related to romance, marriage, and motherhood. Yemayá is a mature, motherly type who watches over children and protects babies in the womb. Ochún is the seductive and sensual Orichá who makes sure babies are conceived. She inspires sexual love and promotes fertility. Once her job is done, she usually loses interest and hands over the child rearing to her more maternal sister.  

Oshun is the goddess of the sweet waters and the protective deity of the River Oshun in Nigeria. Alongside this river is a sacred grove, probably the last in Yoruba Culture, dedicated to Oshun.

The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is a dense forest on the outskirts of Osogbo town, western Nigeria. Sacred Groved were often found in areas where the Yoruba lived, and every town had one.  These sacred groves as time passed were either abandoned or they shrank in size, apart from the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove. This sacred grove boasts 40 shrines, plus 2 palaces, as well as many sculptures and works of arts. Due to its unique status, the Osun-Osongbo Sacred Grove was inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005. 

Legend has it, that villages from a nearby area were in search of water, and decided to settle along the river near the present town of Osogbo. These new settlers did not know this land belonged to Oshun. One day, the community was preparing the ground for the planting season, a tree fell into the river, and a voice emerged from the river lamenting: “You have destroyed my dyeing pots.” The village was filled with fear so they wanted nothing more but to appease the goddess. They were successful in their undertaking, Oshun advised the community to settle in the upper part of the river, for humans and spirits could not live together. The villagers complied with Oshun’s command, and the former settlement became the Osun-Osongbo Sacred Grove.

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Me Gritarron Negra!!!!

Me Gritarron Negra!!!!

Victoria Eugenia Santa Cruz

This La Vida En Black History Month message is so nice I had to do it twice… This story goes deep into the heart of Peruvian culture with the Heroine of Black Peru; Victoria Eugenia Santa Cruz Gamarra, a much celebrated poet, composer, choreographer, designer, + an exponent of Afro-Peruvian art.

The daughter of writer / playwright, Nicomedes Santa Cruz Aparicio and Victoria Gamarra, their family was famous for their excellence in creative pursuits including the development of Zamacueca an ancient colonial dance and music with a mixture of roots from Africa to the Andes.
Victoria was one of 10 children born into the family. Her brothers are renown – Cesar is a musician and composer; Rafael the Bull Fighter isdeamed “untorero de gran clase” or the Wonderous Black Matador; and Nicomedes; the preeminent scholar of Afro-Peruvian culture. 
Victoria received a scholarship to attend the Université du Theatre des Nations in Paris where she was educated in costuming and choreography. She created unforgettable costumes for the play “The Altarpiece of Don Cristobal”. And made a triumphant return to Peru. In 1968 she founded the Teatro y Danzas Negras del Perú, / Black Dance Theatre of Peru, inspiring a new and diverse period in Peru for the study of black culture.
Her choreography became a part of the fabric of Peruvian culture so much so that her talented group represented the nation at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Victoria won numerous prestigious awards including Best Folklorist at the Primer Festival y Seminario Latinoamericano de Televisión en 1970.
She was a special guest of the Colombian government at the Festival de Cali in 1971. There she notably recognized that the black roots of Cali did not come from just one country of origin but from several African nations, so much like the various slaves brought to the Americas.
Santa Cruz’s name became synonymous with the cultural identity of Peru and in 1973 Victoria became the director of the National Folklore for the National Institute of Culture (INC) /Conjunto Nacional de Folclore del Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INC). She continued to spread her love of Afro-Peruvian culture throughout the world, teaching at Carnegie Mellon University, and in Europe at the Teatro del Sole, in Italy.
She passed away in 2014 surrounded by her beautiful family, the legendary Ambassador of Peruvian culture was lain to rest at the Peruvian National Musuem. Her poem “Me Gritaron Negra” They Screamed “Black” At Me, became a beautiful badge of honor for Afro-Latinos every where. Performed here by Victoria and then by a little Ecuadorian girl…

Lyrics
Español  / English
Tenía siete años apenas,  /  Maybe I was seven years old,

apenas siete años,  /  Maybe seven years,

¡Qué siete años!  /  What seven years old!

¡No llegaba a cinco siquiera! /  I wasn’t even five yet!

De pronto unas voces en la calle / when some voices in the street

me gritaron ¡Negra!  / screamed at me ¡Negra! (Black Girl!)

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! /  Black! Black! Black! Black!
¡Negra! ¡Negra!¡Negra! /  Back! Black! Black!
¿Soy acaso negra?, me dije /  I thought, Am I? Am I really Black?
¡SI! /  Yes!
¿Qué cosa es ser negra? /  What does it mean to be black?

¡Negra! Black!

Y yo no sabía la triste verdad / And I didn’t know the sad truth
que aquello escondía. / That it was hiding

¡Negra! /  Black!

Y me sentí negra, /  And I felt black,

¡Negra! / Black!

Como ellos decían / Just like their screams

¡Negra! / Black!

Y retrocedí / And I rejected it

¡Negra! / Black!

Como ellos querían / Just like they wanted

¡Negra!  /  Black!
Y odié mis cabellos / And I hated my hair
y mis labios gruesos / And my thick lips

y miré apenada mi carne tostada / and I was ashamed of my toasted skin

Y retrocedí  / And I rejected it

¡Negra! /  Black!

Y retrocedí. /  And I rejected it.
¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black!

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Neeegra! /  Black! Black! Black!

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black!

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black!
Y pasaba el tiempo, / And the time passed by,

y siempre amargada / And I was always bitter

Seguía llevando a mi espalda / I carried this heavy load

mi pesada carga. / on my back.

¡Y cómo pesaba! / And it weighed me down!

Me alacié el cabello,  / I straightened my hair.

me polveé la cara, / I powdered my face,

y entre mis entrañas siempre / And deep down inside of me, I always heard
resonaba la misma palabra /  the same resounding word

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Neeegra! / Black! Black! Blaaaack!

Hasta que un día que retrocedía, / Until one day I so rejected me, 
retrocedía y qué iba a caer  / rejected to the point where I  put my own self down

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black! 

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black!

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black! 

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black! 

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! /  Black! Black! Black!

¿Y qué? / So What?

¿Y qué?  / So What?

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Sí! / YES!

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Soy! / I Am!

¡Negra! /  Black!

¡Negra!  /  Black!

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Negra soy! /  I Am Black!

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Sí ! / Yes!

¡Soy! / I am!

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Negra!  / Black!

¡Negra! /  Black!

¡Negra soy! / I am Black!

De hoy en adelante no quiero /  From this day forward I will not

laciar mi cabello /  straighten my hair
No quiero / I do not want to!
Y voy a reírme de aquellos, / & I’m gonna laugh at those who

que por evitar / by avoiding
–según ellos– /  according to them

que por evitarnos algún sin sabor/   To avoid the “bad taste”

Llaman a los negros / call black people,
gente de color / people of color

¿Y de qué color? / And what color is that?

¡NEGRO! ¡NEGRO! / BLACK! BLACK!

¡Y qué lindo suena! / And how beautiful it sounds!

NEGRO NEGRO

¡Y qué ritmo tiene! And what rhythm it has!

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

Al fin! / Finally!

Al fin comprendí,  /  Finally I understood,

¡AL FIN! / FINALLY!

Ya no retrocedo / I am not rejected
AL FIN / FINALLY

Y avanzo segura / I move forward with pride

AL FIN / FINALLY

Avanzo y espero / I move forward and wait

AL FIN /  FINALLY

Y bendigo al cielo /  I thank the heavens above
porque quiso Dios /  because God wanted

que negro azabache / like a precious black stone
fuese mi color / I was meant to be my color

Y ya comprendí / and now I understand

AL FIN /  FINALLY

¡Ya tengo la llave! /  I now have the key!

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO

¡Negra soy! / I am Black!