Mãe Stella de Oxossi Launches Mobile App
by Iya Melissa
While there are many books published about Candomblé, the best form of learning comes from being in the presence of elders and absorbing their teachings. In Candomblé, patience is truly a virtue. We don’t learn anything overnight. Instead, it is bit by bit that we develop deep understandings of this profound religion. For Millennials growing up in Candomblé, exercising this type of patience can be a huge challenge. In the Internet age where information is simply a wi-fi connection away, it’s difficult to resist the temptation to turn to the Internet as a primary source for learning about the religion. However, the Internet has also afforded us amazing opportunities like the launch of Mãe Stella’s app – Orientações de Mãe Stella. The app launched on May 2nd, Mãe Stella’s 92nd birthday; what a gift has she given us!
Mãe Stella is the present Iyalorixá of the Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá of Bahia. The terreiro in Bahia was founded in 1910 by Iyalorixá Eugênia Anna Santos after she established the Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá of Rio de Janeiro in 1886. Mãe Stella was initiated by Mãe Senhora, filha de santo of Mãe Aninha and the third Iyalorixa of Opô Afonjá. Imagine the lessons Mãe Stella must have learned from her Orixá grandmother as a teen participating in the terreiro. Imagine the countless memories Mãe Senhora shared with her godchildren over the years of the lessons she learned from her own Iyalorixá.
Thankfully, we have documentaries and recordings of our ancestors; while we missed an opportunity to actually know them, we are blessed to have whatever remnants we can get our hands on. Simply knowing what they sounded like, hearing them sing and pray in Yoruba over 100 years ago and noting what has changed or stayed the same throughout the years, feels like a blessing. Mãe Stella’s app, Orientações de Mãe Stella, is a continuation of this beautiful legacy.
Throughout the years, people look to Mãe Stella for her words of wisdom. She speaks with an eloquent realism that’s hard to turn away from. In each documentary I’ve seen her in, she just feels like an auntie dropping knowledge. The African diaspora is amazing that way – Bahians remind me of African-Americans from The South; they both seem to use language that is simplistically rich and familiar, language that feels like a hug and a welcome home.
It comes as no surprise, then, that the app is simple yet rich. Orientações de Mãe Stella is not an app that overtly teaches about Candomblé or the Orixás. It is, however, stocked with about a dozen sayings that remind us how to live, how to respond in certain situations, and how to treat others among other things. The quotes are both written and recorded by Mãe Stella; a beautiful legacy for future generations who will be able to hear her voice.
The Internet and modernity are seen as a blessing or a curse depending on who you ask. Simply search “Candomble” on YouTube and you’ll be entertained for hours on end by all types of videos ranging from educational to over the top exposure. Search Google and you’ll find basic information on one end of the spectrum, and guidebooks for performing rituals on the other end. Orientações de Mãe Stella is the perfect middle ground. The app isn’t a game to play that will help you memorize oriki, adura, or orin Orixá, but rather orients us with the wisdom of an elder to keep us grounded in our daily lives.
As of publication, the app is only available on Android devices. The plan is to have iOS expansion in the near future, so stay tuned!