As the pilgrimage back to African Traditional Religions continues to gain momentum, many people believe that because folks are initiated into certain traditions; they have integrity. Allow me to be the first to tell you that it’s not the case.

As a diasporan woman, I come from a family of santeros. I was extremely proud to start this journey. Albeit was 20 years in the making, I am indescribably fulfilled to be an olosha/ santera in the Lucumi tradition. It’s an insurmountable joy that many will never have the pleasure of knowing.

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However, this faith does not come without its challenges.

Upon moving to Florida, I had to find a religious home. I did but it was different than the houses and people I had been exposed to while living up north. It was predominantly white latinos which honestly made me feel a little uneasy. It’s not to say that all white santeros are trash, but I feel more comfortable with my own folks. It is what it is. And my former godbrother, Michael Hendley or Osun Muyiwa reassured me that this house was cool. In 2016, I became an official member of the house after receiving my elekes, warriors and Olokun.

I crowned on Aug. 29, 2018. My Iya in ocha is Yemaya and my Baba is Babaluaye. I spent my iyaworaje isolated from people with the exception of traveling for work, grocery shopping and visiting my godsister and the occasional visit from Osun Muyiwa.

I had a hiccup in the initial part of my iyaworaje when my former godsister, Josie Sainz or Josie Vega, also known as Omilana posted a problematic video of a Chinese makeup artist in blackface. As a white Puerto Rican, it’s apparent that she may not have understood why it was a problem. And it’s my job to educate the ignorant. So I did. Not only did she become combative, she threatened me in a public forum. Maybe as an iyawo, I shouldn’t have responded. But as an adult woman who has birthed a child, I don’t take kindly to people let alone strangers speaking to me recklessly. Not then, not today and not ever.

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I addressed my feelings about trash ass white Latinos and my iyaworaje together and I meant every word I said.

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Michael sent me a text message stating that Josie was out of pocket after stating I should not be seen. Not one elder said anything publicly so I dealt with it how I saw fit and I would do it again. After all, respect is reciprocal.

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After I spoke my piece, I blocked everyone in my house with the exception of two or three godsiblings. I carried on with my year in peace. Amen.

By this time, my godsister Sili had crowned. Her iyaworaje went the same as mine. We were loved by our Orishas but not so much from our elders. No big. We had each other. A message on Facebook Messenger isn’t what I would call tending to iyawoses but it was 2019 and maybe things have changed.

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We both made it through our year beautifully. We will always honor Elegua from whom we are birthed, but the human side of this religion left a lot to be desired.

Sili and I reconnected with our older godbrother, Jose, with whom there had never been an issue. As adults, we understand that someone else’s problem with a person; isn’t ours. And to be honest, he had never shown us anything but love. He is the person who scraped both of us when we crowned. And finding santeros that you can trust seems to be a difficult feat these days. Besides, he’s family, right?

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Feb. 2 was my godsister’s ocha birthday and she celebrated by having a guiro for Oya. The guiro was absolutely beautiful and filled with santeros and aleyos who wanted to be a part of her special day.

And then came the crazy, hateful vitriol against Jose, Sili and me. Josie Sainz/Josie Vega and Michael Hendley have a reputation for being messy so it wasn’t a surprise. Apparently, Omilana and Osun Muyiwa came together to trade notes because Omilana took to her Facebook and Instagram with some hilarious commentary. Keep in mind that they are supposed to be elders in the community. Just because you’re crowned doesn’t necessarily mean you wear a crown.

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Here’s the thing. Josie Sainz/ Josie Vega has been blocked on all channels of communication for a year by Jose and me. So why is a woman who is not on anybody’s radar so pressed about us? Like, seriously, nobody is checking for her.

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I, also, don’t understand her frustration with Sili. She never called her nor were they friends. So why is she so salty? Here’s the gag. Sili and I came to the house together. We were sisters before and we will be sisters going forward. I guess they are used to relationships being destroyed because nobody seems to prosper when they are there. If you look at the godchildren who left the house (we, jokingly, call ourselves “The Runaways” because we happen to be the Black godkids) versus who is left, there’s a disproportionate percentage of us doing better than them. And we are all santeros. Honestly, the babies who left have a bond and we are doing extremely well. Too well to take time out to write about people who aren’t factors in our lives.

She also thought posting about an arrest and my marriage that I had already discussed was supposed to cause a problem. If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know that I’m hella transparent. And I’m a whole lot of things but a liar ain’t one. There’s literally nothing anyone can say about me that I haven’t said about myself. That’s been the beauty of my journey. I’ve grown tremendously and others have not. It’s ok.

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And for someone who doesn’t know me at all and is clearly listening to bogus information from Osun Muyiwa, you’d think she would fact check. Where’s Iwa Pele when you need it? There’s no need to address what was said other than her being with me for 7 days under the throne. How can someone with no car and no money to get to a location tend to me? And she was never picked up by our elders. She also didn’t sit in my ita. We weren’t friends and to folks who know me- they’d know she isn’t someone I would EVER LET IN MY CRIB.

But Michael squatted in my home for about a year, among many others’ homes, and against my husband’s wishes. That’s what I get for trying to help a friend. I have watched this man lie on other santeros and even posted the receipts of one lie on Instagram when he wouldn’t stop talking about me even after I told him to move on. How does a person listen to a pathological liar who’s been everything from the butcher, the baker, to the candlestick maker? I mean he isn’t even honest with his own godchildren.

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And now the very people he talked cash shit about, Josie included, he’s stepping and fetching for. I guess he really is the “Negra” of the house. It had to be somebody.

They say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones but these two didn’t get the memo. I mean, no disrespect to Yemaya and Oshun, but these two aren’t the best the Lucumi community has to offer. Omilana has a rap sheet the length of my arm, multiple evictions, a drug problem and numerous cases with DCF. I have receipts if they are needed. She really does have better things to do than to write dumb shit about me. For Christ’s sake, she was drunk at my godsister’s crowning. Who does that?

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Here are the facts. As aleyos and santeros, we have a choice with reference to who we choose to deal with. You should not stay in messy houses where there is no growth or people don’t stay. That’s a sign. It’s ok to move on.

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When everything went down during my iyaworaje, I planned to air everyone out with screenshots and I have hundreds. But my eggun told me to wait. And I did. I gave people the opportunity to fly right. They didn’t and the pen will always be mightier than the sword.

I’m not arguing with folks but it is up to me, to tell the truth. And I’m tired of messy ass santeros making this faith trash. That’s why so many people leave or have a hard time trusting folks. It’s disgusting. These two individuals are disgusting and if whoever is hyping them up- you are trash too.

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I meant it when I said I’m here to bring integrity back to this faith and on my crown, I will. Not only will I do that, but I will also give Black people a place where they can truly belong.

Be best.

Shit talking mami, bruja and problematic negra who writes. Búscame en NegraWithTumbao.com and in these innanet streets.

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