Mama Charlotte featuring film screenings
About Charlotte Hill O’Neal
Charlotte Hill O’Neal is known by several names. Residents of the Arusha region of northern Tanzania, where she has lived for decades, call her Mama C. Others call her Mama Africa because of the scarification on her cheeks and the ring piercing her nose, and because she encourages the local youth to be proud of their culture and heritage.
Her Orisha spiritual name is Osotunde Fasuyi. She was initiated several years ago as a priestess in the Yoruba belief system, which originated about 10 000 years ago in present-day Nigeria. Enslaved Africans brought it to the Americas and the Caribbean, where it syncretized with other belief systems and is now practiced throughout these areas.
She is a former member of the Black Panther Party, who fled the United States with her husband Pete O’Neal half a century ago.
Charlotte speaks Swahili with a Midwest drawl and her skin is decorated with tattoos: a black panther on her left shoulder and Sankofa, a symbol the Akan people of Ghana use to represent the importance of gaining knowledge and wisdom from the past, on her arm. African instruments, including the stringed nyatiti traditionally played by the Luo of present-day Kenya, replace the gun once strapped across her body.