Tag Archives: African Diapsora

Modern Griots Reviews: Birth of a Dark Nation

Imagine seeing the journey of the Black Atlantic through the memories of a centuries-old vampiric human. A DC IT specialist working at an HIV organization Justin Kena is privileged with this information when he falls for one named Dante. As he falls in love, he learns of the ancient indigenous Yoruba group, the Razadi, who are vampiric and witnesses to pre-, during, and post-slavery times in Rashid Darden‘s Birth of a Dark Nation.

Birth of a Dark Nation flips the script on traditional vampire tales from its shifting narration to its inclusion of slave narration and cultural rituals to non-Western views of the vampire to it as a same-gender loving story that confronts those who say it is a recent Western phenomenon. Darden’s previous work, Lazarus, Covenant, and Epiphany has centered on black LGBT experiences, and now he has taken that and extended it to black speculative fiction.

The story begins with a Razadi receiving orders from an elder to watch over Justin because he is considered the “key,” similar to Neo in the Matrix or any messiah-like character. Later, we are introduced to Dante, a street hustler, who Justin randomly notices and to whom he has an instant attraction. When Dante finally reveals who he is to Justin, Justin begins his transformation from the computer guy at a dead-end job to part of the Razadi family and leader in his community.

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Modern Griots Review: Ancestral Voices

What are the spiritual and physical consequences of us not studying the spiritual and magic systems of the African Diaspora in depth?  This is one question amongst several explored in the British documentary film, Ancestral Voices: Esoteric African Knowledge. Premiering in New York City last Saturday at the New York African Diaspora International Film Festival,  the film delves into several African and African-American spiritual systems that are often demonized, misrepresented or lack attention in comparison to more mainstream religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Filmmakers Verona Spence and Dalian Adofo made this film as a way to educate people on these systems and ancestral knowledge, and interviewed a variety of artists, intellectuals, and spiritual leaders and practitioners, and participants. The interviewees provided a vast amount of knowledge about not only the recurring themes in African and Afro-diapsoric spiritual systems, but also specific elements in different ones, including Egyptian Kemetic, Yoruba, Gabon’s Iboga ritual, The Sky God Tree story of the Akan in Ghana, Caribbean Obeah, Haitian Vodou, Cuban and Puerto Rican Santeria and Brazilian Candomble.

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