As the first Queen Mother of the African Diaspora on the African continent, Dòwòti Désir oversees welcoming home people whose ancestors were torn away due to slavery. (Photos courtesy of Dòwòti Désir)

Queen Mother, interfaith leader to give convocation address

03/26 update: The time and location of the “Interfaith Dialogue with a Vodou High Priestess” event has been changed.

African educator, human rights activist and philanthropist Dr. Dòwòti Désir, Queen Mother of the African Diaspora of Benin, will share her knowledge and experiences during a series of public gatherings at EMU next week.

Désir is an interfaith leader, scholar and expert on African diaspora heritage sites. As the former chair of the NGO Committee for the Elimination of Racism, Afrophobia and Colorism at the United Nations, she has worked with Dr. Gaurav J. Pathania, assistant professor of sociology and peacebuilding at EMU, on issues related to caste. Désir has spoken at Harvard Divinity School, Columbia University and New York University, and said she was “delighted and honored” to visit EMU.

“I end up speaking, in some ways, to the same audiences all the time,” she said. “This is a very different audience for me and I look forward to the conversation. I’m eager to learn about social justice from an EMU perspective.”

All events below are scheduled for Wednesday, March 27.

‘Compassion: The Intangible Asset’

Time: 10:10 a.m.
Location: University Commons Student Union
About: As the first Queen Mother of the African Diaspora on the African continent, Désir oversees welcoming home people whose ancestors were torn away due to slavery. Her main address for convocation will focus on social justice and the importance of compassion.

She is a former adviser and designated expert to the United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on projects related to the global African community.

‘The African Diaspora: A Photographer’s Lens’

Time: 11:15 a.m.
Location: West Dining Room
About: The Queen Mother will lead a lunch discussion on using photography to tell the story of the African Diaspora and the impacts of slavery.

She has visited and documented more than 90 sites around the world that speak to the historic experiences of Africans and their descendants in the Diaspora.

Interfaith Dialogue with a Vodou High Priestess’

Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Northlawn East Dining Room
About: Désir is a Manbo Asogwe, a priestess in the West African faith tradition of Vodou. Learn about Vodou beliefs, practices, history and traditions during this talk, as she answers questions and clears up misconceptions.

According to Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, Vodou — meaning “spirit” or “god” in the Fon and Ewe languages of West Africa — is a blending, or syncretism, of African religious traditions and Catholicism. It has come to be used as the name for the religious traditions of Haiti, which is where Désir was born.

Events are hosted by: EMU Engage; Center for Interfaith Engagement; Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and the Visual and Communication Arts (VaCA) Department.

Join the Discussion on “Queen Mother, interfaith leader to give convocation address

  1. Feel glad to hear about meeting of my younger with Dr. Desir the queen mother. Very nice.

  2. I am praying that biblical Truth will stand at EMU, and not be muddied by acceptance of other religions. Please don’t dishonor Jesus during this Holy week by giving a queen/high priestess of vodou your time and attention.
    “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~Jesus.
    John 14:6, the Word of God.

  3. Wow, I was under the impression that EMU was open to people’s opinions. But not if they’re biblical? I left a comment in this space this morning regarding the vodou queen being invited to a (once) Christian institution during Holy Week. I said that I would be praying for God’s Truth to prevail. But where is that comment? And maybe others who didn’t quite agree with this decision to give time and attention to a high priestess of a false religion at a college where it was once based on biblical beliefs? Where are the faculty and students who actually are Christ followers and believe in the words of Jesus? Are they too being silenced?

  4. I’m in favor of social justice, of course, but not at the expense of the gospel of our Savior, which EMU seems to be abandoning in a fervent quest for social plaudits. A friend of mine who graduated from EMU was chastised for ending her prayer in Jesus’ name because “it might offend someone.” No one ever rebuked the Muslim in the group for speaking Allah’s name, of course. Only Christ followers need be singled out and silenced. But God’s spirit knew this issue was coming to “steal, kill, and destroy” those seeking truth. Why hide that very truth under a basket and leave seekers in the dark, lost and stolen from God’s family? Is that justice? Why not always put the Light on a stand, for all to see and be set free, rather than introducing and discussing new kinds of chains with which the students might choose to bind themselves in darkness?

    “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
    ‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭4‬:‭1‬-‭5

  5. I am not the Queen Mother of Vodou, but the Queen Mother of the African Diaspora who happens to be a Vodou priestess. If some of you had participated in the interfaith discussions held, or attended my convocation remarks about compassion, you would find my sacred values are not that different from yours. Many seem to forget how many years Christ spent in Africa… what actually do you think he was doing there? Vodou and other African-based traditions are much, much older than the Abrahamic faiths. Many of the earliest saints of Christianity are crafted after our Lwa, and other Ascended Masters. I was under the impression that Christianity teaches love, faith, and tolerance. Vodou teaches us to search passionately for peace, something one does not find without an immense capacity to love; or have faith in the God that binds our lives; or can attain without the ability to do more than simply tolerate others– we endeavor to accept those in believe that God moves through all of us and that we are but Divine energy in human form. We are but one human family. What happens to you, happens to me. Let us learn to understand one another. Ayibobo. Amen. Amin. Ase. Namaste. Shalom.

    1. With all due respect, Queen Mother, I value your passion for peace (much like the Mennonites), but the message of Jesus was not primarily peace. It was salvation to the lost, and he declared that he is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him. So those who do not embrace this truth of God, are not Christian, are not saved, and are unfortunately disillusioned by whatever they do believe in. It would not be loving of Christ-followers to “tolerate” unbiblical teaching, especially on a “Christian” college campus. To love is to care about another’s life and destiny. It would be nice to understand one another. But that’s not the most important thing either. I don’t know where you stand on the teachings of Jesus, but he was not just a “good teacher or prophet”, but the very LORD himself.

  6. False teacher. The Bible warns us of this in the last days. Sad for the EMU community we once called home and was not ashamed of the truth of the gospel of Christ.

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