Mami Wata, the famous name or idea of a sea goddess of African origin, has permeated the stories of spirituality of black people home and abroad but very few people are aware of how the goddess came to be.
Mami Wata, the popular sea goddess of Africa origin, is extensively believed by continental Africans and diasporian Africans as one of the most powerful deities in existence.
Although Mami Wata is thought to be one of the symbols of traditional African religions, it is very common to find Christians and Muslims who worship the sea goddess.
The half-fish half-human female water spirit is highly respected, feared and worshipped presenting a balance between dark, divine, mysterious and angelic existence.
But how did the world come to conceive of Mami Wata? The history is quite interesting.
Face2faceafrica.com despite being considered as an adaptation of the Western Mermaid, Mami Wata is a deity that has existed in Africa for as long as African history and culture can recollect.
Mami Wata traces back to the earliest of African societies as recorded by the griots and keepers of history. The Dogon’s creation myth tells the stories of Mami Wata and traces records of its existence to more than 4000 years ago.
Mesopotamian myths also tell of the great water goddess in their story of creation known as Mami Aruru, to be the creator of life.
The name "Mami Wata" is traced to the early languages of many modern African societies today. The first root of its name is considered to be from Ethiopian and Egyptian Coptic societies.
In the Ethiopian Coptic language, the word “mama” was used as a description of truth and wisdom and the term “uat-ur” meant ocean water.
Another definition of the name traces to the early Sudanese society where the word "wata" referred to a woman. The name is often linked to a single entity but represents the strongest and most significant of all water spirits that exist.
The deity possesses evil as much as she possesses good. Many men have been said to be captured by the deity for her own satisfaction. Women who are not humble because they have been blessed with beauty are often left barren or without a man until they compensate the deity.
The main role of Mami Water is to provide spiritual and material healing to her worshippers, while also protecting their emotional and mental health and growth. She is the protector of the water bodies.
Many traditional groups in Africa till today do not go to the beach or fish on certain days in order to provide peace to the water deity’s home.
For many Africans who find themselves in the Western world, specifically in the Caribbean and southern America, the deity is said to have travelled with them on the Atlantic ocean protecting them and taking some of their pain to relieve them.
She is said to have capsised many slave ships that do not make it to their western destinations especially during the abolition of the slave trade.
Today, many Western scholars believe that Mami Wata is a pidgin adaptation of the word mermaid adapted by African societies.
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