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The Oblique Vodousphere: Le Grand Ibo Lele

Atualizado: Jun 29

Frater Selwanga


The Ibo nation represents a crucial Vodou mystery, as it speaks of the transmigration of souls, in the ritual known as kase kanari or breaking the calabash/jar. The aim of this ritual is to enable the passing on of a part of the soul of a departed houngan or mambo. This metaphysical being is called zany and the zany and will elect its successor through the ritual known as kase kanari. The ritual consists in serving the met tet of the departed one using a secret modality of Ibo magic. The ritual will have the presences of the departed ones family and also people considered viable to inherit the zany will take part. A mat covered in white cloth is placed at the pot tet of the departed and in another vessel a rooster, preferably white, is placed along with other secret ingredients topped by a knife placed in the ground at its side with the blade up set on fire. A white cloth covers the clay vessel serving as kanari and it Is turned into a drum where sticks is beaten on its lid in the rhythm of ibo.


On the kanari is placed a bowl of water in which floats an overturned kwi (small gourd or cork). The boula (the smallest of the three drums) is beaten with two small sticks, and also a board or small bench is present to serve as a kata (drum). The key is found in reproducing the resonance of emerging water, the soft tapping on these objects will lure and summon the dead (ti bon anj) that resides in the abysmal waters to surface with the help of La Siren Djaman that brings a road of wet fire from the abysmal waters to the lakou of the living.


This pot or kanari is La Grand Ibolele. She is fierce, wise and migrated from the lands of Ibo in southern Nigeria and started working the plantations of rice around the great river in Latibonit in Haiti. It is a region where the Bizango society was founded as a magical defence for Haiti, where we find streams such as Lakou Vodou, Fran Kongo and Fran Ginen, vodou variants that differ from the Asogwe or Asson tradition found in Leogan, Jacmel and Port-au- Prince by their focus on keeping divinized ancestors alive as protectors of their homes and lands.


That’s why we sing Ibo Lele, Granmoun pa jwe o; meaning, “she is not someone that mess around.” She knows the value of hard work, of ordeal, of the passage through struggle and her full chant goes like this:


Ibo Lele!

Ibo Lele o!

Ibo Lele, Latibonit

Granmoun pa jwe o

The ceremony of kase kanari involves the possession of Guede, often it starts with Guede Brav or Guede Nibbho, but this is just the sign and token for going, parting, leaving and returning… In the cellar of Guede there are many vaults indeed. As the zany is called and the Guede is called someone will fall down, possessed in a corpselike state and the person will then be powdered and perfumed and placed on the mat where the zany mort (the anj of the departed) is removed to the kanari and the departed one is invited in to rest under the aegis of his or her met tet (master of the head) with the chosen vessel, hence he or she (ti bon anj) is resurrected in the realm of the gwo bon anj of another houngan or mambo as an additional star - and in this way this zany or mysté can keep on protecting and teaching people of the sosiete.


We are here speaking of a central vodou mystery concerning the soul which is composed of several parts. The basic elements that are fused together are the gwo bon anj (the big good angel) and ti bon anj (little good angel). The ti bon anj represent our I-ness, the memory and personality of the person. Gwo bon anj is the spirit and the consciousness, it is here our met tet resides and it is our gwo bon anj that journeys out into the vodousphere to give place to the lwa called to possess and to use our body.


The ibo nation count beside Grann Ibo Lele, Ibo Bibi, Ibo Kanman, Ibo Lele, Ibo Swaman, Ilou Kanman, Loko Davi, Lokosi Dayok Freda, Grann Ezili and Tokodou. Loko Davi said to be the force supporting Ibo Lele in the guise of the sacred Iroko tree. Loko Davi, a houngan made in the likeness of King David, A David lost in his love for Grann Ezili, his Bathsheba, the forbidden love of murderous possessiveness. Ibo Loko Davi is a hot mysté known as Azangon Loko on the petwo rite, a force that sizzles and ripples and spreads like corrosive fluids.


La Grand Ibo Lele is an obscure mystery, because her realm is death and resurrection, she is the womb of secrecy. Her body is the closed kanari, the secret she will always hold, but she gladly part with the tortuous science that makes the dead alive again.

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