About

 

Panama Slim was raised in the coastal region of Texas.  He studied psychology and history at Tennessee State University, a historically Black university.  While there, he became enamored with African history.  And for nearly 20 years he has immersed himself in African Culture and Spirituality.  He has been initiated into several spiritual and priestly rites and is a practicing Babalawo, a high priest in the Yoruba tradition.  His spiritual path began in 1995 when he was initiated to Obatala in Miami.  He was later initiated as a Babalawo in Cuba in 2001.  Since then, he has received various other initiations and icons.  He has helped many people spiritually on his journey and is always ready to help the downtrodden.

He researches, photographs and films African culture and peoples throughout the western hemisphere, from Cuba and Brazil to all parts of the United States.  He has always loved the camera, even during his youth when he was his high school yearbook photographer.  His passion for the arts were never extinguished.  Even without a camera in hand, he could always see the perfect shot.  He started photography in earnest to document his own spiritual works and travels.  He currently calls Miami, FL home.

He is excited to offer his vision to those that appreciate the subject matter and those that have a critical eye for photography.  He hopes you enjoy his work.

According to Wikipedia, ethnography is,  a qualitative research method aimed to learn and understand cultural phenomena which reflect the knowledge and system of meanings guiding the life of a cultural group.  In other words, ethnography is how we learn about various cultural expressions and what they mean to the people of and in this culture.  We capture the everyday, the mundane, the very special and important aspects of life within the community.  The method often includes interviews, observations and note-taking and polls.

 

Visual ethnography uses photography and film to capture images that can either add substance to the written record or can stand alone as the primary record.  My goal as an ethnographic photographer is to capture the moments of our religious community without influencing the moment itself.  I blend into the background, capturing the joys, the reverence, the most sacred interactions of the divine and the personal.  For me, my clients are my subjects, my informants.  I endeavor to capture the meanings within their lives, as if I were studying the people of a distant archipelago.   I allow my camera to interview you and capture the beauty of your spiritual interactions.

These are not mere snapshots.  This is the ethnographique treatment.

The word Babalawo means father of mysteries. The Babalawo is a diviner and priest in the Yoruba spiritual system of Southwestern Nigeria.  He is initiated and guided under the tutelage of the Orisha (deity) named Orunmila and uses the divination system called Ifa to divine critical information for those that seek his help.  There are many Orisha in the Yoruba pantheon and the Babalawo helps the seeker walk a clear path with them all.

The Orisha system, along with many other cultural systems, came to the Western hemisphere during the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade.  Among other landing places, the Orisha came to Cuba and found fertile ground to continue, grow and evolve.  Other traditions landed in Haiti, Brazil, Trinidad, Jamaica and southern portions of the US.  Within all of these places, traditions and cultures merged, evolved, devolved, re-emerged and moved forward based on the needs of the people being serviced.  They have come into their own and represent a path to spirituality that is just as relevant as its origins.

My goal is to explore and share these cultural and religious expressions within the framework of  ethnographic research, as well as being a practitioner of these spiritual and sacred arts.