Mambo Chita Tann (Mambo T) and Sosyete Fòs Fè Yo Wè
Mambo Chita Tann (Mambo Tamara, or “Mambo T”) has been mambo asogwe (the highest rank of priesthood) in Haitian Vodou since 2001, when she initiated with a sosyete in the city of Jacmel in southern Haiti. In 2004, she was granted membership in another sosyete based in Pétionville and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with a satellite house in Long Island, NY: the Sosyete La Fraîcheur Belle Fleur Guinea of Mambo Marie Carmel Charles. Mambo T underwent a second initiation as mambo asogwe in January 2006, at Sosyete Sipote Ki Di, a historical Port-au-Prince peristyle adminstered by Mambo Marie Carmel Charles and Mambo Fifi Ya Sezi. At baptism, Mambo T was honored with the public name Chita Tann, a name passed down through several mambos in the house’s lineage.
Mambo T has more than 20 years of experience as a teacher, author, and lecturer on African religions. She is a professional Egyptologist and became the spiritual leader of the Kemetic Orthodox Faith (a modern form of ancient Egyptian religion) in 1989, decades prior to her involvement in Haitian Vodou. She considers Vodou not as her religion, but as a spiritual and magical service in honor of Haitian and Native American ancestors. Mambo T’s students come from all races, religions, and walks of life. Her first book on Vodou, Haitian Vodou: An Introduction to Haiti’s Indigenous Spiritual Tradition, was published in January 2012.
La Sosyete Fòs Fè Yo Wè (“Strength Makes Them See,” formerly La Sosyete Kouwone Andezo) was founded in 2001 in the Chicago area. The sosyete’s home temple (or houmfor) is currently located at Mambo T’s home in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a satellite houmfor remaining in the Chicago area. Membership in the sosyete is by invitation only.
Mambo Marie Carmel Charles is a well-known mambo, inside and outside of Haiti. She maintains residences in New York and Haiti, and has more than 25 years’ experience in Vodou, having taken the asson at age 18 from Mambo Jacqueline Anne-Marie Lubin, herself an initiate of the famous Kitonmin Bon Mambo of Bel-Air (Mambo Felicia Louis-Romain), chief priestess of Haiti’s first asson lineage in Port-au-Prince from the 1920s.
Mambo Marie’s house, Sosyete La Fraîcheur Belle Fleur Guinea, honors both the asson and non-asson lineages of Haiti. She was first involved in Vodou at age seven, and received training from her father’s asson lineage and her mother’s non-asson Kenscoff tradition (primarily Kongo/Ibo and Taino in orientation). Mambo Marie has also traveled to West Africa, to be initated into various secret societies of Abomey. In Haiti, Mambo Marie shares a peristyle with Mambo Fifi “Ya Sezi,” chief mambo of Sosyete Sipote Ki Di, a famous Vodou temple located near the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, with a 50+ year heritage. Mambo Ya Sezi’s large urban peristyle, painted a vibrant blue with huge murals of the Lwa, has been featured in a number of Vodou documentaries and books. A new Haitian peristyle for the use of both sosyetes was under construction in a tranquil mango grove near Pétionville; after the January 2011 earthquake damaged the Port-au-Prince peristyle as well as the Pétionville construction site, a decision was made to return to the lineage’s original temple, at an ancestral family home in the mountains near La Pleine.
Mambo Marie is a highly respected mambo in the New York Vodou community, as well as in her native Haiti. Her reputation carries her to clients all over the world. The services she holds in New York attract hundreds, who pack her peristyle to hear her singing and, until his 2011 death, the excellent drumwork of her friend, master drummer Houngan Frisner Augustin. Mambo Marie is a full-time mambo and owner of Mt. Carmel Botanica in Freeport, New York (on Long Island).
((Thanks to Casa Alta Gracia for assistance with Mambo Marie’s biography)).