OrisaLifestyle in Trinidad is characterized by an amalgamation of Yoruba traditions, especially Ibadan and Oyo. Of course, it also has been influenced by the contributions of Ibo, Congo and Mandinka practices, not to mention those of the Hindu.
Of particular interest, however, is the Adja Fon - Dahomean - influence, which was brought to my attention during a recent visit to Trinidad. In Trinidad, the Fon are known as Rada, which derives from the kingdom of Allada. While at a ceremony, at Ile Orunmila, I met a lady at a ceremony who was of Dahomean descent. Since then, I had heard bits and pieces about a flourishing Rada community in Belmont district of Port of Spain.
In 1868 a man named Abojevi Zahwenu- Papa Nanee - got a parcel of land in Belmont, Port of Spain. There, he built his compound, which he called Dangbwe Comme [House of Dangbwe]. Dangbwe is the serpent deity, whose worship is rooted in Whydah, but is well-known in Haiti and everywhere the Fon people have gone. The book by Wade Davis called the Serpent and the Rainbow is based upon the mythology and rites associated with Dangbwe.
Abojevi was a bokono, which is the Fon equivalent to a babalawo. As such, he served as a diviner and spiritual advisor in his community. Remembered today as Papa Nanee, Abojevi left a legacy as a great and selfless medicine man. More importantly, perhaps, in his own time, his wisdom, kindness and service made his name a household word in Belmont. He joined his ancestors in 1899 and was laid to rest in the private burial ground near the compound.
As fate would have it, I was driven by the front compound en route to Laventill. But, as we attempted to back onto the main road in our car, it became so cumbersome that we ended up having to enter further into the cul de sac to make a three point turn. It was at that moment that we actually drove up to the very gates of the Rada burial grounds, where I briefly paid my respects and took a quick picture! Just behind the iron gate, you can see a tombstone.
Carr, Andrew. A Rada Community in Trinidad