AGOTIME, HER LEGEND by Judith Gleason


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The story of 19th-century West African Agotime, the daughter of a Mall priest, captured by the King of Dahomey and made one of his queens. Their son is chosen by the oracles as successor, but upon the king's death he flees into the jungle and Agotime is sold into slavery. Before she leaves, Agotime consults the voodoo priest, who insinuates a special destiny for her, soon verified by the successive appearances of Zomadonu, Dahomean water spirit, who consigns her the task of establishing his cult in Brazil. Surviving the ""Middle Passage,"" Agotime is bought by a family in San Salvador where she works for several years trying to establish Zomadonu among the local Condombles. She joins the Hausa Uprising of 1807 and escapes, dogged by her impatient voodoo, nervously appearing ""out of fountains or waterjars or the nearest stream."" Taking over a deserted Jesuit seminary, Agotime fulfills her pact with the Dahomean deity, and (apparently in exchange) her son takes the throne in Africa, and sends ambassadors to find his mother and bring her home. Whether or not she went is unknown, but the author implies she preferred to stay and feed the cult that still flourishes in Brazil, Miss Gleason's account shows the work of research--a little too apparent in her all-inclusive classifications of African pantheons, story-telling and song. The romance of Legend remains aloof and, in a regal fashion, stylized.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1970
Publisher: Grossman