Of Water and The Spirit

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Sooner or later, every serious student of African History discovers that Africans have a very unique form of spiritualism and relating to their god(s), their environment and their own spiritual natures, which is different from any of the modern day forms of religion which have propagated themselves around the world due to colonialism and the missionary endeavors of various religious groups.

Of Water & The Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman by Malidoma Patrice Somé is a book which gives the Western (American/European) reader a rare glimpse into the realm of African spirituality as seen through the first hand experiences of an native African.

The book relates the true tale of the author (Malidoma) as he grows up in an old African community that is being encroached upon by the shadow of French colonialism.

As a young boy, Malidoma shares memories of a magical time spent with his Grand Father who served as the village Shaman, and his Father who was being wooed by Jesuit priest missionaries, who encouraged him to remove his son from the ‘demonic’ influences of his native people.


Malidoma was kidnapped by Jesuit priests at the age of 4, taken to a Jesuit seminary school, and forced to abandon his culture, language and way of thinking. He was given a Christian education and taught to speak French. Malidoma spent 15 years at the Jesuit seminary until he had an unfortunate run in with one of the priest teachers. He escaped, and made his way back to his village only to find that he could no longer relate to, or understand, his own people! – to quote the book Malidoma “was a man of two worlds, at home in neither” and it was going to be almost impossible for him to remain home if he could not re-learn the ways of his people. As it turns out, it was Malidoma’s destiny to act as a “bridge” of sorts between his people, their spiritualism and the outside world.

Going Back Home

The most profound part of this book illustrates the extreme effort required for the western mind to understand and explore the world of African spirituality.In order to reintegrate his heart and mind back to the ways of his people Malidoma had to endure the arduous task of village initiation and education. A mind-bending journey of spirit and peril which crossed dimensions and realities, and could have cost him his very life if he would fail in its accomplishment.

But should Malidoma succeed, his unique ability to comprehend and work in the world of the West and the spiritual realm of the East would bring understanding and healing to many of Africa’s lost and stolen children looking for a way back home.

Why I Recommend This Book

This was a very enjoyable and therapeutic book to read. I highly recommend it for all students of Africa, Her cultures and spirituality. If you know that there is something more… and have been unable to find it, or have anyone explain to you what is missing, this may be the book you’ve been looking for!Highly recommended!

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Of Water and the Spirit by Malidoma Patrice Somé

Book Review by Keith D. Young – htpp://www.AfroPerspectives.com
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The time is now to go back and claim your true history and knowledge – to use it to change your world for the better today and to dream of a better tomorrow. – Spirit of Sankofa

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