One of the goals of the Island Time show on Sphere Radio was to find new ways to tell stories of migratory culture through music. Our specific focus has been on the shared musical space between Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. On this brief episode, we present a selection of music dedicated to the cult-figure of Yemọja/Iemanjá/Yemayá , the Yoruba orisha of the surface of the ocean, who through the atrocity of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade came to the new world through the enslaved peoples of Cuba, Brazil, Puerto Rico, southern United States, and more, maintaining status and power even as she shape-shifted to fit Catholicism and other impositions.
Her story, or rather stories, speak to a type of power that is mysterious and beautiful, here relayed through musicians playing in genres ranging from highlife, salsa boricua, afro-cuban jazz and beyond
[Artwork for this show is sourced from Philadelphia-based Colectiva Clara. Their description of the image is below:
Originally a water color, this digital rendering of Yemayá is based on several Yoruba practices from West Africa to the Caribbean and South America. Her crown is made of the leaves of the yagrumo plant, one of the plants used in her rituals, and the attire is based on the *Virgen de Regla,* who is often used to synchronize Yemayá’s image. The image represents the colors and icons attributed to Yemayá: turquoise and red, along with the moon, boat helm and cowry shells. Since she controls the seas and oceans, we depict her controlling the fate of two ships: a drowning schooner Clotida to the right, the last ship to transport enslaved Africans to the United States and on the left a contemporary ship of East African privateers. Yemayá is depicted guiding the ship of privateers who carry poor people trying to survive, while sinking the ship on the right after it made its last voyage, with it ending the painful transportation of enslaved people. Instead of depicting a clear humanly figure, we chose to portray her as a body of water; full of movement and force. This watercolor was created by the visual artist José Ortiz-Pagan for Colectiva Clara, a collective of candle makers, herbal concotionists and dreamers, of which he is a member.]