African Art: The Mami Wata Figure (Photo)

mami water
Mami Wata figure, ca. 1975 - By Joseph Chukwu (ca. 1900-1986, Utu Etim Ekpo, Abak, Akwa Ibom State) Nigeria

Mami Wata (Mammy Water) spirits are usually female. This is a deity venerated in West, Central, and Southern Africa. A tool that is being used to deal with adversity.

In Nigerian popular stories, Mami Wata may seduce a male and then show herself to him. Usually she demands his complete sexual faithfulness and secrecy about their affair. It is believed that acceptance means wealth and fortune; rejection spells the ruin of his family, finances, and job. A measure of personal well-being by the accumulation of material goods in certain African countries.

Names of Mami Wata of in different countries

Republic of the Congo Kuitikuiti, Mboze, Makanga, Bunzi, Kambizi
Benin Mawu-Lisu (sometimes seen as an aspect of Mami Wata)
Democratic Republic of the Congo La Sirène (“The Mermaid”), Madame Poisson (“Mistress Fish”), Mamba Muntu
Guinea Mamy Wata
South Africa Zulu: Mamlambo; Ndebele: NoMlambo
Nigeria Igbo: Mmuommiri (“Lady of the waters”), Edo: Obanamen/Oba n’amen (“King/Queen of the waters”), Yoruba: Yemoja, Ibibio/Efik: Ndém
Ghana Maame Water

 

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