In this new column, Black Women & The Divine, Lifestyle Editor Keyaira Kelly sits down with women all over the world to explore their different faith systems. Her first interview is with Kola Boof, a critically acclaimed author and mother of two. Having been raised in Sudan, Boof’s belief in The Womb developed after she was vaginally cut. Here’s her story.
How Do You Pray?
I chant topless in a body of water, usually a river or lake. I have my Heka beads that I shake as I chant.
What Is Your Religion?
I was born Sunni Muslim. But after I was adopted by Black Americans I was raised Christian Baptist. And then as an adult, I started my own religion based off the ancient Nilotic religion THE WOMB. So my religion is now The Womb, but keep in mind I’ve changed it to fit my tastes and updated it for modern times.
What made you give up on Islam and Christianity?
I denounced both Islam and Christianity because I found them to be mentally and physically abusive, especially Islam. I am vaginally cut because the Mullahs where I’m from in Omdurman, Sudan believed that ‘Woman Is Impure.’ When my Arab-Egyptian father, also a Muslim, spoke out against the building of Lake Nuba and protested enslavement of the Dinka and Nuer tribes by Arab Muslims, the murahaleen murdered both my parents, which is how UNICEF ended up letting me for adoption. I’m leaving a lot out, but we’ll be here all day if I don’t. Bottom line…I feel coming to America saved me from Islam With Christianity, there were a lot of elements to it that I enjoyed…I still read the BIBLE to this day. But overall, I’m a very eccentric and free-thinking person and it bothered me that rape, the central experience of women and children since time began, was never properly mentioned or addressed in the Bible. I also had a lot of problems with lyrics in hymns such as “Walk in the light, the beautiful light” as the Colorism of Americans was extremely difficult for me to live with when I first came to America. We definitely have Colorism in Sudan as well. But in America, it’s way too toxic for me to tolerate.
How Did You Come To Adopt This Belief, The Womb?
It was always there from childhood in Sudan. Most of the women in Omdurman were both Muslims and Heka Witches. Even though the Arab Muslims and the Ottomans invaded Egypt and Sudan, which were basically the same country, and forced us to become Muslims, many people practice Islam outdoors and practice their indigenous African religion indoors. Heka is an ancient Egyptian religion encompassing medicine and magic. The Womb was derived from Heka but started by Sudanese women around 1800 B.C. So as a child in Sudan, I was very familiar with going topless to the Nile River and chanting. Being topless in the river with other black women chanting was my favorite thing about tribalism and Clan life.
How Do Your Beliefs Influence Your Daily Life?
The Womb is wonderful because it specifically centers my womanhood and allows me to think and make decisions from that vantage point first. Becoming a mother saved my life and then when I took on The Womb, it’s as though all my powers came together and I finally felt confident and peaceful. Whenever I feel down, I pull out my deck of Heka Cards…they guide you to your ancestors and we do readings with them and some people even perform magic with them. Heka Cards aren’t available in America but they are wonderful for putting me back on track and keeping me clear
What Criticisms Have You Received About Your Belief System?
Americans see it as witchcraft, as paganism, as voodoo. They’re extremely fearful of anything they don’t understand. And especially because The Womb is purely African female, there is the stigma that all things Black are evil when in reality the entire purpose of Heka and The Womb is to manifest and spread love. That’s all it’s about…love.
Do You Have A Daily Practice You Participate In? Please Describe.
When I wake up, I chant, “Each day that I wake…I am powerful on a new day.” And when I go to bed I hug myself very tightly and I chant, “I carry you into the world…I carry you out.” Those are two required Chants of The Womb religion. Some days I read my spirit or tell my fortune using the Heka Cards. But I don’t put spells on people and I’m not a cannibal, which are some of the accusations you get from American people.
Do you have a favorite quote/scripture/ or verse you live by?
Yes. But it’s from the Holy Bible. I constantly chant to myself, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.” And that comes from being an orphan and living in America where no one understands me and everything about my life has been twisted, falsified and degraded by Black male misogyny, the media and White Supremacy. I don’t really think my work, my award-winning books that nobody reads or my life stands a chance of being understood until long after I’m dead.
What Is The Most Misunderstood Aspect Of Your Faith/Religion And Why?
The Blackness is the most misunderstood part of The Womb and the Heka Cards. People in America can’t comprehend that DARK things represent the genesis of vision itself. In the West, the word DARK has been falsified to mean Evil. So there is literally no way for them to plug into The Womb or the Heka Cards. They don’t understand that everything good, loving and healing…comes from the dark.
Kola Boof is the bestselling author of “The Sexy Part of the Bible” (Akashic Books) and “Diary of a Lost Girl” (Atlantic Library). She is the mother of two sons and has written extensively for television. Her next book is “Dark Victory” with famed Sudanese
author Francis Bok. Her Twitter handle is @Kolaboof3