African American and Trinidadian spiritual traditions are joined at the hip. Of course, we share common African roots. More recently, however, there was a wave of African American spiritualists who came to Trinidad & Tobago as part of the Second Great Awakening, which was a Protestant religious revival that took place during the early 19th century in the United States. The movement began around 1790, gained momentum by 1800 and, after 1820, membership rose rapidly among Baptist and Methodist congregations whose preachers led the movement. The Second Great awakening also coincides with the arrival of several thousand indentured laborers from present-day Nigeria. The Second Great Awakening was characterized by enthusiasm, emotion, and an appeal to the super-natural, which enabled the movement to absorb greater numbers of African Americans, the vast majority of whom remained loyal to African spiritual practices like Hoodoo, Conjure and Root Work.
Revivals were the main feature of the Second Great Awakening. Through the revivals, Pastors enrolled hundreds of thousands of new members in existing evangelical denominations, which led to the formation of new denominations. Among the new denominations were numerous syncretic African American religious movements, including the Zion Revivalists of Jamaica. Of particular interest to practitioners of Orisa Lifestyle is the Spiritual Baptist faith which combines elements of Yoruba spirituality and Christianity. The Baptist faith was brought to Trinidad by the Merikins, former American slaves who were recruited by the British to fight, as the Corps of Colonial Marines, against the Americans during the War of 1812. After the end of the war, these ex-slaves were settled in Trinidad, to the east of the Mission of Savannah Grande (now known as Princes Town) in six villages, since then called the Company Villages.
African traditions were influential too and these included the gayap system of communal help, herbal medicine and Obeah – African tribal science. A prominent elder in the 20th century was "Papa Neezer" – Samuel Ebenezer Elliot (1901–1969) – who was a descendant of an original settler, George Elliot, and renowned for his ability to heal and cast out evil spirits. His syncretic form of religion included veneration of Sango, prophecies from the "Obi" and revelation from the Psalms. The Spiritual Baptist faith is a legacy of the Merikin community. One of Papa Neezer's protégés, American anthropologist Dr Frances Henry, called him, in a memoir, “one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever encountered.” Her book, He Had the Power, is subtitled Pa Neezer, the Orisha King of Trinidad.
During his early years, he was a member of the Spiritual Baptist Church. However, he became involved in the Orisa movement after he was told in a dream that he had healing powers and was able to cast out demons. It is said that he received the powers while sleeping in his garden, when a snake passed over him without causing any harm. He interpreted the event as spiritual powers bestowed on him and soon became the undisputed leader of the affairs of the Orisas in Moruga.
In a recent interview with Pa Neezer's great-neice, Jaramogi, she recalled, “We didn’t come here as slaves.” She has helped forge an alliance between the Merikins and the Maroons of Jamaica, Suriname, and elsewhere in the region, peoples who escaped from slavery and lived more or less independently of colonial rule. That independence is still clear in the Merikins’ traditional way of life, much of which continues unchanged. People move away or migrate, but some return. Up in the company villages, everyone knows each other, and who’s related to whom. While the T&T government faces a recession and urges everyone to grow food, the Merikins already do. When they first came to Trinidad, they were given rations for a few months until the land they had planted started bearing. Now, where you might expect a lawn, the sloping garden behind a house will be covered with the wide heart shapes of dasheen leaves, or plants used as seasoning or herbal remedies. Merikin families also have land scattered throughout their villages, parcels of the original sixteen acres that have been divided and passed down through generations. 
It is precisely this revolutionary spirit of freedom and independence that permeates Orisa Lifestyle in Trinidad & Tobago.
Obafemi Origunwa, MA | ObafemiO.com