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REMEMBERING IYA L’ORISHA MOLLY AHYE By Burton Sankeralli

posted 24 Apr 2018, 06:03 by Gerry Kangalee
Trinbagonian and Caribbean Icon, Iya L’Orisha Dr. Molly Ahye, has transitioned to the realm of the ancestors. She was 84.

Molly was a key personage in the areas of dance, cultural research and the Orisha Tradition. She was probably the most important collaborator with Beryl McBurnie in the pioneering project to put Caribbean dance on stage in the period of the 1950s and 60s. Here her contribution has not been measured.

Dr. Ahye did important writing in the area of culture research that again is still to be properly disseminated. We mention her two books,
Golden Heritage, documenting our local folk traditions and Cradle of Caribbean Dance that tells the story of Beryl McBurnie and the Little Carib Theatre.

Molly was (and is) a priestess in the Orisha Tradition and played a pivotal role in that critical period when the Tradition moved out of the shadows of persecution, harassment and stigmatization into the sphere of public visibility and acknowledgement.

With the organization Opa Orisha Shango, she pioneered such efforts at national visibility. Here we may note the establishing of the Oshun Festival as a public nation-wide observance. This was also the first step in establishing the public calendar of Orisha festivals that we have today. Opa also endeavoured, perhaps for the first time, to, in effect, establish a comprehensive register of Orisha shrines.

Molly was made the female head of Opa Orisha Shango and given the title Iya L’Orisha of Trinidad and Tobago. But Molly was not one for artificial boundaries. In earlier years she also did important work in the area of liturgical dance for the Catholic Church.

Let it also be remembered the tremendous work Iya L’Orisha Ahye did across the world. And here for instance we may mention her research on the Tradition in Brazil. And I recently discovered she is well-known in Cuba.

Finally we may speak of her international collaboration with Marta Vega in the founding and establishing of the “World Orisha Congress” that was first convened in Nigeria. Iya’s funeral takes place at Clark and Battoo Tragarete Road, Port-of-Spain on Wednesday 25th April at 10.30 am.
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