The Afro-Caribbean Connection In Beyoncé’s Lemonade You Might Not Have Known About
Since evolving from Destiny’s Child into a solo artist, Beyoncé has worked with a wide range of female musicians and artists, particularly black women from around the world. There’s the Sugar Mamas , for instance, her 10-piece touring band; her inclusion of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s inspiring TEDx Talk about feminism in “Flawless;” and her weaving of Somali-British poet Warsan Shire’s haunting poem about betrayal on Lemonade.
Among that illustrious group? Franco-Cuban sisters Ibeyi.
The sisters, Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi, not only appear in Lemonade alongside the likes of Zendaya and Amandla Stenberg, but also had their song, “River,” featured in an Instagram post Beyoncé made to promote her September 2015 Vogue cover. You can watch the video for “River” below, because it’s fantastic and because we love you:
And ~that’s not all.~
There’s a theory snaking its way around the internet that some of the striking imagery Beyoncé employed in Lemonade takes its cues from Santería and other Yoruba-influenced faiths popular across the Caribbean and Brazil, including and very notably in Cuba. In fact, one prominent orisha, Oshun, is mentioned by name in “River.”
“Wemile Oshun, Oshun dede, Alawede Wemile Oshun, moolowo beleru yalode moyewede.”
Here’s how Oshun is commonly depicted:
A photo posted by Neia (@neialove_) on
Lots of people, specifically on Instagram, are making the visual connection between elements in Lemonade — Beyoncé’s yellow Roberto Cavalli gown, a shot of her standing amid streaming water — and the color and element so often associated with Oshun.
Check it out:
She is the #Goddess of river waters, #love, #fertility, #marriage, #beauty, #wealth, #art and #sensuality. Moreover, she is generous, kind, #desirable, #ambitious, #seductive, #selfcentered and #flirtatious. She's not one to be #trifled with or #angered. Hence, the scenes that follow and #lyrics. As I stated last night. There's so much more to this #album than people are looking at. #Spirituality has reached a whole new level in her life. Her trip to #Cuba was an #awakening. ? #Educateyourselves #lookbeyondthefacevalue #theresmoretoit #dontjudgeabookbyitscover #Beyonce #Lemonade #Santo #Lareligion #Orishas #Oshun
A photo posted by The Suarez (@thesuarezzz) on
Beyonce's #Lemonade is rich with historical and cultural references, but as a seduction devotee, this may be my favorite. In one of the initial scenes, #Beyonce wears a magnificent golden yellow dress, and exits a building engulfed in flowing water. This is a mythological reference to the orisha Oshun. Considered to be the most beautiful of the female orisha's, she exhibits qualities associated with flowing water; she is vivacious, sparkling, and moves with seductive fluidity. As a diety, she reins over eroticism, sensuality, creativity, fertility, and the rivers. Oshun is regarded as a healer of the sick, the bringer of song, music and dance, as well as prosperity and fertility. She is very powerful…In many instances where other Orishas fail, Oshun triumphs, often using her feminine wiles and 'sweetness' to conquer enemies. She is associated with the colors yellow and gold, fans and mirrors, honey, and rivers. Oshun, like Venus, Aphrodite, and Astarte, represents the sacral energy in women. This is the sensual procreative force in every woman that connects her to her sacred ability to arouse, emotionally connect, manifest reality, and ultimately create life. When this energy is active– when we've activated Oshun– we are too like water, fluid, sensual, powerful, life-giving, renewing, creative spontaneous, and completely at ease in the realm of emotion. When we tap into our inner love goddess we attract the kind of love that fills us up, and we begin to manifest the realities we seek. #theseductivewoman #beyhive #feminineenergy #oshun #ochun #santeria #yoruba #ankh #shakti #sacralchakra #feminine #loveadvice #Femininity #sacredfeminine #love #rachelroy #tinalawson #bae #formation
A photo posted by Camille Synclaire* (@theseductivewoman) on
To paraphrase the poster above: even when others might alter or fail…
Maybe Beyoncé was influenced by her 2013 trip to Cuba? Something to ponder.
Now go check out more of Ibeyi’s music.
What’d you think of Lemonade? And how many times are you going to listen to Ibeyi today? 187,321 times at least, right?