I’m back with another one of those books that is fun to read but educational. But unlike many others I’ve read, this books is actually non-fiction. If you have any interest in African goddesses and Nigeria, this is one you shouldn’t miss.
The Oshun Diaries* by Diane Esquerra is a memoir based on an exploration of African goddesses, one in particular, Oshun. Diane travels to Nigeria in the hopes of meeting a mysterious Austrian woman worshipping the Ifa river goddess Oshun in Nigeria her curiosity is aroused. It is the start of an extraordinary friendship that sustains Diane through the death of her son and leads to a quest to take part in Oshun rituals. Prevented by Boko Haram from returning to Nigeria, she finds herself at Ifa shrines in Florida amid vultures, snakes, goats’ heads, machetes, torrential rain and a cigar-smoking god. Her quest steps up a gear when Beyonce channels Oshun at the Grammys and the goddess goes global.
Before we start, you should know that this is a book about one woman’s spiritual journey. I’ve seen it advertised as a travel memoir but to be honest, I don’t really agree with that. Now, don’t get me wrong, the descriptions of Nigeria are stunning and the insights into life there really made me feel like I knew more about a country I’ve never been too. In fact, it made me rather ashamed of how little I know of Nigeria. However, as the author only really writes about Nigeria and Florida, the travel aspect really want there for me. Like I said, it was more about the spiritual journey and that’s quite fine by me.
There are many other elements to The Oshun Diaries that I appreciated. One was the level of female empowerment. We see it naturally in the Ifa river goddess Oshun. Whether I believe in her existence or not is not important to this book. It is what she represents and that is fertility, love, and sensuality. She is a strong presences, sure of herself, like Adunni, the Austrian-born high priestess who is worshipping Oshun. The author, Diane, is another strong woman, although there are points in the book where I think she is not so sure of herself. Same with her sister, Sally. They have come out the other side of death, broken relationships, corruption, and are still fighting strong. I admire that. And, while they may connect a lot of their lives to various goddesses, the author in no way tries to force any of their views onto the reader. You don’t have to believe what they believe, just enjoying learning about another culture.
I must say, I really enjoyed The Oshun Diaries. On my part, it was very educational and Diane’s journey was well-written, not drawn out and mundanely written like memoirs can sometimes be. Even if think you are not really interested in Nigeria and/or African goddesses, it is worth reading a book like this that will open your eyes.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.