Get To Know Mami Wata – An African Mermaid

by Esme Addison

Are you familiar with Mami Wata? She is infamously known throughout the African diaspora and she comes across my research often as I read about mermaid myths from Asian, European, African and other cultures.

I write a mystery series about a woman who is genetically a mermaid. Meaning, she looks like a regular woman, however, she and other members of her family are descended from a mermaid but have lost their ability to shift into her Mer form. She is left with several abilities, however, like telepathy, healing and the power to command water.

Because of the subject and themes in my series, I am constantly researching mermaid myths around the world. And there are tons! Every country, culture, and continent has them. The longer my series goes on, the more I want to bring in different mermaid myths. Beginning with one African myth in particular.

The many countries of Africa have several mermaid myths, with Mami Wata being one of the most popular ones. In the Enchanted Bay Mystery series, the story begins with the Mermaid Of Warsaw but continues with the introduction of Mami Wata’s myth in A Hex For Danger. In the third book in the series, we dive deeper into Mami’s myth.

To that end, let’s learn more about Mami.

Who Is Mami Wata?

Mami Wata is an African water spirit who has been depicted in many different ways. She is usually shown as a beautiful woman with long flowing hair, fish scales on her lower body, and sometimes with a serpent wrapped around her. Mami Wata is said to have the power to heal the sick and help those in need. She is also known to bestow gifts upon her worshippers, such as luck, fertility, and wealth. Today, Mami Wata is still worshipped by many people in Africa and around the world.

She is an ancient and powerful deity who has been worshipped since before the dawn of written history. She originated in Africa and spread throughout the African diaspora through the slave trade, eventually reaching the Americas.

What Does Mami Wata Do?

In addition to her mesmerizing beauty, she also carries with her numerous gifts. Offerings such as jewelry, coins, and scarves are believed to bring luck and wealth as well as ensure divine protection from danger and ill will. Her powers also extend to healing rituals that help to ward off illness or misfortune for her initiates. Though her worship has changed slightly over time, Mami Wata is still venerated by practitioners around the world today; even in the modern age, she continues to remain a symbol of strength and prosperity in many cultures.

In many cultures around the world, Mami Wata is believed to have powerful control over water and its elements. It’s said her powers range from making rain to creating storms, and certain African legends claim she can even produce earthquakes! What remains consistent throughout all forms is her love for presents—seafood delicacies being at the top of the list! And today, devotees honor her abilities by worshipping with elaborate songs and dances as well as gifts like money or fabric for initiates during ceremonies.

This African goddess is said to have healing abilities and is often summoned by those in need. Legends say that she was able to cure the sick or injured through rituals of singing, dancing, drumming and prayer. In fact, some believe that her powers are even more powerful when invoked through traditional ceremonies. Her influence is so great that many still see her as a goddess of physical health, making her a vital figure to further understanding the history of health and spiritual healing practices in West Africa.

Mami Wata is an ancient and powerful African water spirit, with many worshippers across the region. Traditional worship practices include offerings of food and drink, as well as flowers and other gifts. It is believed that if you honor her with offerings, Mami Wata will bring you good luck and fortune. The kinds of offerings commonly given to Mami Wata vary greatly, but they often include items such as delicious fruits like bananas, coconuts and pineapples; sweet drinks like sugarcane juice; beautiful garlands of marigolds; cowrie shells; or even incense or tobacco smoke.

Today, Mami Wata is still a beloved figure in many African diaspora communities. Numerous stories and legends that have been passed down through the generations testify to the connection that many people of African descent feel to her, even though she may be thousands of miles away from the places where most of them live. People recognize her for the gifts and assistance that she bestows upon her initiates and bring honor to her name by giving praise and offering sacrifice through devotionals and worship services held in her honor. Even today, there exists a strong spiritual calling within African diasporic communities to pay homage and show respect to Mami Wata, who brings such joy and blessings into their lives.

Learn more about Mami Wata and other mermaid myths in my series, the Enchanted Bay Mysteries.

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