Published: Eye Books (August 2019)
Encounters with an African Goddess
High priestesses are few and far between, white ones in Africa even more so. When Diane Esguerra hears of a mysterious Austrian woman worshipping the Ifa river goddess Oshun in Nigeria, her curiosity is aroused.
It is the start of an extraordinary friendship that sustains Diane through the death of her son and leads to a quest to take part in Oshun rituals. Prevented by Boko Haram from returning to Nigeria, she finds herself at Ifa shrines in Florida amid vultures, snakes, goats’ heads, machetes, a hurricane and a cigar-smoking god. Her quest steps up a gear when Beyoncé channels Oshun at the Grammys and the goddess goes global.
Mystifying, harrowing and funny, The Oshun Diaries explores the lure of Africa, the life of a remarkable woman and the appeal of the goddess as a symbol of female empowerment.
In the windowless, earthen-floored bar with its ineffective plastic fly-screen and unwiped tables, we sipped Fanta and chewed on stale Lincoln biscuits. I let out a sigh. ‘I can’t believe I’ve come all this way for nothing.'
Ebis smiled. ‘No journey is ever wasted.’
‘Diane Esguerra is a very fine writer’
Eddy Canfor Dumas
‘An absolute joy to read... leads you on a spiritual journey where you feel as if you’ve been transported to Africa. The Oshun Diaries mesmerised me’
‘It was refreshing to read about a belief system that was so firmly rooted in the female form. This empowering and enlightening book reaffirmed my belief that you have to push out of your comfort zone at times, because you never, ever stop learning’
‘If you have any interest in African goddesses and Nigeria, this is one you shouldn’t miss’
‘Engrossing...very moving at times, wryly amusing at others, and always full of sharp observation’
‘Part-memoir, part-adventure, a fascinating insight into a different culture and religion as viewed by an outsider. A thoroughly absorbing read’
‘A special book about women’s rights, discrimination and the beautiful culture of Africa’
‘A fascinating study of Ifa and two of the prominent Western women who follow it’
‘There’s something incredibly effortless and beautiful about the way Esguerra writes’
‘I read this book in a few hours. Fascinating…I had read part one before I knew it. The writing is confident and descriptive…and touches on important ideas’
‘A stunning, beautiful and complex memoir. Profoundly moving and enlightening’
‘Full of vivid imagery, authentic characters and amazing content and events. The meeting with the charismatic, dedicated priestess is enthralling’
‘Captivatingly written…it treads a fine line between being profoundly spiritual while remaining highly accessible – no mean feat’
‘If Diane’s purpose was the intrigue and open the reader’s mind to Oshun, then she’s done a spectacular job as I’m now hungry for more learning on the subject’
Read an interview with Diane Esguerra about The Oshun Diaries on the blog Splashes into Books