There are some traditional Yoruba prayer intercessions, which are said, so that one may pay homage to the African gods of creation, the creators of life.  They are often said when someone dies. We should say them silently for Martin Sawyer. He was only a little boy when captured, from his land, somewhere in Africa. Sawyer managed to survive the horrors of the Middle Passage, shackled in chains, on a Spanish slaver which was chased, and captured by a British vessel, probably a privateer brig, as the Spanish ship was undoubtedly headed with its cargo for the slave colony of Cuba.

The boy was landed in Nassau, and promptly sold at Vendue House on Bay Street. He became enslaved in the Bahamas, his master a R. H. Sawyer.  Martin was undoubtedly named by his master. and after emancipation, as was tradition by slaves, he took the last name of his master. His African name is unknown.

Martin Sawyer died at age one hundred and five.  He was born sometime around 1823, somewhere in Africa.

Martin Sawyer was the last African born slave in the Bahamas. He died in 1928.


(The London Times, 5th October 1928)

Yoruba Prayers

Iba’se ila Oorun,
Homage to the power of the East,
Iba’se iwo Oorun,
Homage to the power of the West,
Iba’se Ariwa,
Homage to the power of the North,
Iba’se Guusu,
Homage to the power of the South,
Iba Oba Igbalaye,
Homage to the King of the Seasons of the Earth,
Iba Orun Oke,
Homage to the Invisible Realm of the Mountains,
Iba Atiwo Orun,
Homage to all things that live in the Invisible Realm,
Iba Olokun a-soro-dayo,
Homage to the Spirit of the Ocean, the one who makes things prosper.
Iba afefe legelege awo isalu-aye,
Homage to the power of the wind, the Mystery of the Mysterious World,
Iba Ogege, Oba ti ngb’aiye gun,
Homage to Mother Earth who sustains the Universal alignment
of all things in Nature,
Iba titi aiye lo gbere,
Homage to the perpetuity of the World into eternity,
Iba Oba awon Oba,
Homage to the King of all Kings,
Iba Okiti biri, Oba ti np’ojo iku da,
Homage to the Averter of the final days,
The King who could change the time of Death.

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