“Blazes a new trail in Africana literary criticism by providing an insight into the soul and spirit of Africana womanhood.”--Anthonia Kalu, The Ohio State University, author of Women, Literature, and Development in Africa
This is the revised and expanded edition of Teresa N. Washington's groundbreaking book Our Mothers, Our Powers, Our Texts: Manifestations of Aje in Africana Literature.
In Yoruba language and culture, Aje signifies both a phenomenal spiritual power and the human beings who exercise that power. Aje is the birthright of Africana women who are revered as the Gods of Society. While Africana men can have Aje, its owners and controllers are Africana women. Because it is an African female power, and due to its invisibility, ubiquity, and profundity, Aje is often maligned as witchcraft. However, as Teresa N. Washington reveals in Our Mothers, Our Powers, Our Texts, Aje is central to the Yoruba ethos, worldview, and cosmology. Not only is it essential to human creation and artistic creativity, but as a force of justice and retribution, Aje is vital to social harmony and balance.
Washington analyzes forms, figures, and forces of Aje in the Yoruba world, in the Caribbean Islands, in Latin America, and in African America. Washington's research reveals that with the exile and enslavement of millions of Africans, Aje became a global force and an essential ally in organizing insurrections, soothing shattered souls, and reminding the dispossessed of their inherent divinity.
From her in-depth exploration of Aje in Pan-African history and orature, Washington guides readers through rich analyses of the symbolic, methodological, and spiritual manifestations of Aje that are central to important works by Africana writers but are rarely elucidated by Western criticism. Our Mothers, Our Powers, Our Texts includes innovative readings of works by many Africana writers, including Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Ben Okri, Wole Soyinka, Jamaica Kincaid, and Ntozake Shange.
This revised and expanded edition of Our Mothers, Our Powers, Our Texts will appeal to scholars of Africana literature, African religion and philosophy, gender studies, and comparative literature. Devotees of Africana spiritual systems will find this book to be indispensable.
Teresa N. Washington, Ph.D. is the author of The Architects of Existence: Aje in Yoruba Cosmology, Ontology, and Orature; Manifestations of Masculine Magnificence: Divinity in Africana Life, Lyrics, and Literature; and Our Mothers, Our Powers, Our Texts: Manifestations of Aje in Africana Literature. She is also the editor of The African World in Dialogue: An Appeal to Action! Dr. Washington’s analyses are published as chapters in Harold Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations: Toni Morrison’s Beloved: New Edition; Yemoja: Gender, Sexuality, and Creativity in the Latina/o and Afro-Atlantic Diasporas; Esu: Yoruba God, Power, and the Imaginative Frontiers; and Step into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature. Her articles have been published in many noted journals, including the African American Review, the Journal of American Folklore, FEMSPEC, and the Journal of Pan African Studies.
By analyzing diverse sources, including published studies, historical texts, divination verses, and interviews with Yoruba wisdom keepers, Washington elucidates the multifaceted and complex nature of Aje and reveals the power to be extraordinarily dynamic, influential, and logical.
Washington’s meticulous exposition of Aje includes chapters on the multifold power of Odu, the Great Mother Aje; Aje’s signs, symbols, and orders of operation; manifestations of Aje in the Odu Ifa; the roles of Àjẹ́ in Yoruba secret societies and sacred institutions; and the impact of Aje on some of the Yoruba world’s most influential sons, including Olatubosun Oladapo, Wole Soyinka, and Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
The Architects of Existence is a groundbreaking study that will be essential reading for scholars of Yoruba Studies, Philosophy, African Studies, Gender Studies, and Religious Studies. Initiates and practitioners of Yoruba spiritual arts and sciences will find this book to be indispensable.
Manifestations of Masculine Magnificence takes the reader to the source of power with an analysis of African Divinities and divine technologies. Washington explores the permanence and proliferation of African Gods from oppressive plantations to the empowering proclamations of such leaders as W. D. Fard, Marcus Garvey, Father Divine, and Allah, the Father. Washington analyzes the summonses to and from the Gods that resonate in the music of such artists as Erykah Badu, The RZA, Sun Ra, X Clan, and Rakim. Using literary analysis as a prism to display the diversity of Africana divinity, Washington reveals the literature of such writers as August Wilson, Walter Mosley, Toni Morrison, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and Ishmael Reed to be three-way mirrors that eternally reflect and project the Gods, their myriad powers, and their weighty responsibilities.
Manifestations of Masculine Magnificence will prove indispensable to independent scholars as well as scholars of Comparative Literature, Hip Hop Studies, Gender Studies, Africana Studies, Literary Criticism, and Religious Studies.