Becoming a Bubi

The Bubi are my blood relatives, so as part of their group I was invited to take part in some of the ceremonies.

I ate customary foods and I had a ceremonious ‘Tolah’ marking a transition. Throughout our lives we go through natural transitions such as conception, birth, puberty and passing. We mark these occasions with celebrations and ceremonies such as the naming ceremony, rites of passage, marriage, and the funeral. For me this marking of my hands and feet, during the Tolah ceremony, with natural plant henna like substances and ash, symbolised a significant change for me. It meant I had reclaimed a lost heritage, I had acknowledged an acceptance of who I was, a Bubi woman, my Afrikan essence.

I returned to the city Malabo days later; with my new hand and feet markings it was clear I was a Bubi returning from Moka. I felt very special, very accepted and I belonged.

Next was the Home-coming ceremony – a lost daughter returns home. I stood on top of a hill looking down into the valley at the serene village. I was recently told that blood relatives lived here in Moka, and that I would soon meet them. Down below it was not evident that the villagers were preparing to meet a lost daughter. I was told not to eat or drink anything, I had to have an empty stomach as I would be given something by an elder once I had reached the village. As I got closer to the sleeping village, I began to see people appear from their homes, each walking towards the main road. I was given a drink of sea water to sip from a large communal shell and a vegetable which had a bitter taste cooked in palm oil. Children started running, then came the singing, the dancing. I could not understand the language, but the melody was catching. I was taken away with the people, the singing and the dancing, carried into the whirlwind of the atmosphere.

Flowers were picked and placed in my hair and my button hole. Bracelets were made from shells and flowers and attached around my head and my arms. I was taken from one side of the village to another with the all singing, dancing villagers. We were all very joyous at this historical occasion. Through my tears of joy and sadness I saw and embraced my blood cousin: after some 500 years of separation, I had at last returned to the place from where I came. What would the ancestors make of all this? What would my grandmother think? That night I fell asleep peacefully for the first time since arriving on the island.

In England, before my departure for the Motherland, a close friend Sis Donna had prepared a diary for me, inside the cover were these words…

I will be found by you
and bring you back from your captivity.
I will gather you from all the Nations,
from all the places where I have driven you.
And I will bring you to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive.
From Jeremiah 29:10 – 14

To me, these prophetic words describe the power of unseen forces, the power of our spirits. I felt my ancestors’ spirits running through my veins had brought my family back to our homeland. A kind of destiny.