Mambo Chita Tann (Mambo T) and Sosyete Fòs Fè Yo Wè
Mambo Chita Tann (Mambo Tamara, “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 in 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 took a second initiation as mambo asogwe in January 2006, at Sosyete Sipote Ki Di, a historical Port-au-Prince peristyle administered 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 is the head of La Sosyete Fòs Fè Yo Wè (see below).
Mambo T has more than 20 years of experience as a teacher, author, and lecturer on African religions. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Claremont Graduate University in the Department of Religion, is a professional Egyptologist and Coptologist, and has acted as spiritual leader of Kemetic Orthodoxy (a modern form of ancient Egyptian religion) since 1989. She considers Vodou not as her religion, but as spiritual and magical service to Haitian and Native American ancestors. Mambo T’s initiatory children and 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 Society,” formerly La Sosyete Kouwone Andezo) was founded in 2001 in Chicago. The sosyete’s home temple (or peristyle) is currently located at Mambo T’s home in Portland, Oregon. Membership in FFYW is by invitation only.
Mambo Marie Carmel Charles is a well-known mambo, inside and outside Haiti. She maintains residences in New Orleans and Haiti, and has more than 30 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), who was chief mambo 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. Mambo Marie 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 initiated into various secret societies of Abomey. In Haiti, she 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 Vodou documentaries and books. A new peristyle for the use of both sosyetes was under construction in a tranquil mango grove near Pétionville; after the January 2011 earthquake damaged Mambo Fifi’s Port-au-Prince peristyle as well as the Pétionville construction site, a third peristyle featuring a beautiful stone grotto for Our Lady of Mount Carmel was established at another of Mambo Marie’s houses near La Pleine, Haiti.
Mambo Marie is a highly respected mambo in the New York and New Orleans Vodou communities, as well as in her native Haiti. Her reputation carries her to clients all over the world. The services she holds attract hundreds, who pack her peristyle to hear her singing and, until his 2011 death, the excellent drum work of her friend, master drummer Houngan Frisner Augustin of Troupe Makandal. Mambo Marie is a full-time mambo and the owner of Carmel and Sons Botanica in the historic Treme district of New Orleans.