Friday, August 20, 2010

African Symbolism in Kanye West's Power Video

Kanye West's interest in the Illuminati and it's symbolism is no big mystery, at least not anymore. His latest video, Power, is his personal take on the abuse of Power and how those who have it keep the secrets very closely guarded. Since Medieval times historians have revealed many instances of secret societies. Most famous of all are the Illuminati, the Knights Templar and the Freemasons. The roots of Freemasonry can be traced as far back as ancient Egypt. Even with all his references to Masonic symbolism and images of beautiful half naked seductive women in this video, it's the presence of particular African symbols that stand out the most for me when I look at Kanye's 21st century Bacchanal.

West treats us to depictions of ancient Egyptian deities like Horus, god of the sky and Hathor the cow horned love goddess. Even more interesting is what Hathor does with the staff. This particular staff is very similar to those used in Bantu or Ki-Kongo traditions, also similar to the iton, (Ékpé staff) used by Ékpé title holders. B.E. Bassey (2001:19-28) mentions a correlation between the Nile river valley and the semi-Bantu Ekoi (Ejagham) one the many inhabitants of southwestern Cameroon and southeast Nigeria who practice Ékpé, their own secret society, known as the Leopard Society .Ékpé societies are the forebears of the Cuban secret society known as Abakuá.

The action of pounding the staff against the earth symbolizes communication with the spirits or ancestors. This form of communication is practiced throughout the African diaspora. Examples include but are not limited to; Umbanda traditions in Brazil, Vodou in Haiti, New Orleans and the Mayomberos of Palo traditions in Cuba, and the U.S.. A steady beat accompanies the mambo, a prayer or incantation used to communicate with N'fumbe(spirits) or summon the N'kisi(spirit or deity of the paleros charm or pot). The combination of the rythmic pulse of the sorcerers staff and the chanting of the mambo gets the message where it needs to go.

For more information about Ékpé and Abakuá check out these two books.

Ékpé Efik: A Theosophical Perspective.By B.E. Bassey Victoria. B.C.: Trafford Publishing 2001

Voice of the Leopard: African Secret Societies and Cuba (Carribean Studies) by Ivor Miller (Hardcover - Jan 16, 2009)

For information on Africa in the diaspora see Pierre Fatumbi Verger

For more information about freemasonry, the Illuminati and its symbols see United Symbols of America Robert R. Hieronimous Ph.D.

Onel Mulet for N'dibo Yeve N'go

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this opportunity - getting back to
    "I am Black and I am Proud" is an important chant.
    Our children learn by repetition - there is a need
    for the meeting of the mind's to develop a curriculum based on african culture this is who we
    are and we must recognize that this is a piece of
    the learning puzzle for african people - culture
    is very important to the educational process for us. Thank you, again