This is a well done and thoughtful look at Yoruba/Candomblé/Santería/Lucumí influences in and on Lemonade with quotes from Maximiliano Goiz and Ynanna Djehuty:
“Oshun (or Ochún) is one of many Orishas celebrated in the Yoruba tradition, which originated from Nigeria, Benin and Togo, and Afro-Latinx spiritual practices that survived the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This culture arrived in the Americas specifically because enslaved black people were stolen from what is now Southwest Nigeria and Benin in West Africa. Oshun is particularly popular in Brazil through the religion of Candomblé, and in Cuba through Santería. As Afro-Latinxs continue fighting for visibility and racial justice, the visual album and its inclusion of Ibeyi gives us Afro-Latinxs a sense of validation as part of the larger African diaspora. Furthermore, it reminds us of the strength of Yoruba in black culture.
Maximiliano Goiz, whose Facebook post on Oshun and the aesthetics of the song “Hold Up” was widely shared across social media, told us that the imagery was surreal. Goiz is a brown, queer, half-Cuban half-Mexican priest initiated into the tradition nine years ago.
“I honestly just feel so privileged that although #Lemonade is not necessarily directed at me [but rather at black women], it still [somehow] connected to my Cuban roots and the Afro-Diaspora at large and that I was able to see myself reflected in it, even in the simplest way,” Goiz says. He grew up surrounded by Lucumí and Santería. “You have to remember that the only reasons why these traditions are alive is because they have been able to survive centuries of enslavement, oppression, criminalization, scrutiny, and basically everything under the sun.”
As a non-practitioner who often prays to Oshun, I felt it was necessary to ask devotees how they feel about Beyoncé’s use of Yoruba tradition. Goiz views the imagery not as appropriation, but as an allusion to the tradition, specifically because Beyoncé didn’t perform any sacred ceremonies or don religious adornments.
“Goiz and Djehuty both agree that seeing Oshun represented in all her fullness and complexity was powerful – particularly the side of her that is “scorned” in Beyoncé’s free-for-all bat rampage.”