John Mason is a researcher, educator, editor, writer, composer, jazz musician, photographer, and Yoruba priest of Obatala, among many other things. In 1973, after graduating from City College in New York, he co-founded the Yoruba Theological Archministry, a research centre in Brooklyn dedicated to the study of Yoruba religion and culture. His many publications and research projects into the diaspora of the Yoruba people from West Africa to the Americas have made him one of the foremost authorities on the subject.
Mason opens the doors to Yoruba culture, whose system of beliefs, rituals, and transmitted knowledge was a bond of union, identity and resistance for the African population in America. In spite of the debilitating effects of slavery, Africans managed to put down roots in Haiti, Trinidad, Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Baba John Mason's studies also revolve around the philosophy of Orisha, a syncretic religion based on inclusion and recognition of difference.
SON[I]A talks to John Mason about the power of rituals and food as the impetus for resistance, identity, and memory, about the cultural transfers that take place in migratory movements, and about the history of the Yoruba people. In this podcast, Mason also defends the untold story of the role of women as inventors, and highlights the political, social and economic impact of certain spaces occupied by women, such as agriculture and education, as well pediatrics, geriatrics and affects.
00:00 A new way to talk, a new way to think, a new way to signal
04:00 The Yoruba: diaspora, culture and resistance
10:24 Food and taste as a way of identifying ourselves
12:26 Yoruba: Ilé-Ife, the house that spreads, the house that expands.
14:43 The Yoruba: from a subsistence culture to a surplus culture
18:36 Orisha: energy can neither be created, nor destroyed
22:43 Orisha: syncretism, inclusion and recognition of difference
29:17 Migrations and cultural transfers
30:23 A technology of monsterhood
34:46 Culture is viral. Culture is always changing
39:00 'In Praise of Our Mothers', a collection of leftovers
41:51 Female power through history