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Ogou Ashade and the Mystery of the Bokór

Fr. Selwanga

Ogou Ashade holds the colours of vibrant red, dark green and gold and is the medicine man or sorcerous herbalist of the Kongo Nation, both the Kongo Fran (the honest or original Kongo) and the Kongo Savan (the wild Kongo). These colours are considered in the scale of black with the golden radical Sun running through his mystery.

But Ogou Ashade even being so instrumental in the Kongo Nation is himself originally from the Wangol spirits, his father being Roi Wongol, The King of Angola. But in the vodou wonderland the King of Angola, the Roi Wongol is also a lwa that possesses the secrets of shape shifting and is considered a very, very hot mysté connected to jaguars and all things feline. So hot that in some sosieté we find Roi Wongol syncretised with Satan in the sense of a force unruly, fiery and extremely domineering, what is also explained as ‘radical Sol’. Roi Wongol is the father of Gede Nibo and Ogou Ashade and also the adoptive father of Ogou Badagri, Bawon Samedi and Naman Brigitte that stands as a mysterious triad in support of the three kings, usually represented by Simbis.

Ogou Ashade is reputed also to be the Ogou that is dedicating himself to the finer arts of metal working, like jewellery and decoration of various forms. Certainly he knows how to fashion a sword of excellence, but he also likes to make the best sword also the most beautiful sword. A significant mystery wielded by Ogou Ashade is the Nacion An-mine and here we are not speaking of lwa in the usual sense, but of elemental forces, building blocks of creation. Most likely we find here at its core similar forces as those found in the Zangbeto society in West-Africa, the region of Togo, Benin and Nigeria that are in charge of guarding the society with aggressive or passive protection. The spirits in this nacion are known as gad (guardian) – and by extension djab (devil) that are considered to be forces that once was explained to me as being ‘nocturnal Sol’. A gad or guard can be worked inside powders and placed under the skin through incisions or shaped into a spirit composed of secret and carefully selected elements in order to fashion the proper gad. The same is true for the djab, even thou a djab can be manufactured in several other ways as well, always for protection, it be aggressive or passive. One chant to Ogou Ashade does impart how this lwa is the chief of this mysterious knowledge:

Ogou O, djab-la di lap manje mwen si sre vre?

Pa fout vre

Ogou O, djab-la di lap manje mwen si sre vre?

Men gen Bondje O gen lesen-yo

Djab-la di lap manje mwen se pa vre

Se pa vre ti moun-yo se pa vre

Sa se jwet ti moun-yo sa se blag

Ogou O, the djab says he'll eat me, is this true?

It's not true

Ogou O, the djab says he'll eat me, is this true?

But we have God, Oh we have the Saints

The djab says he'll eat me, it's not true

It's not true, children, it's not true

That's a game, children, that's a joke

All Ogous have some form of pioneering role in some way, in being the first of their kind in a given realm. Ogou Ashade was the first bokór and hence the bokór tradition proper is sanctioned by Ogou Ashade. The idea that the bokór is a freestyle houngan that is working lwa and djab without initiation is not really true; although some might think it is that easy. Any bokór should be done on the pwen of Ogou Ashade in one form or the other, but there are many ways of accomplishing this. What is important to keep in mind is that the djabs is the domain of Ogou Ashade and hence it is he that will give licence to use these forces that are amazingly volatile, delicate and dangerous.

The idea that a bokór is working both hands is true in all senses, because a bokór somehow is someone who is moved by the Kongo mysté, both fran and savan that will give a sorcerous quality to the bokór similar to what we can find in Palo Mayombe and Quimbanda, cults that stands equally strong on protection as on healing, yet dealing with entities earthy and fiery at the same time. It is in this realm we find Ogou Ashade, first bokór of many.

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