September 18, 2020

Art of the Zodiac: ‘Tafari Stevenson-Howard’s Change Of “Home” – From Detroit To Ghana And Back’

I’ve been wanting to share my full story of my Ghana trip from spring 2020 since I arrived back in the US. It was so much to process! Fortunately for me, I was recently interview by my friend CV Henriette for Acronym Official who dug deep into my experiences that lead me to GHANA!

The piece is beautifully written and sent me back in time thinking about where I came from up through today!

Art of the Zodiac

‘As Covid-19 prepares for its Great American breakout tour, Detroit-based artist and healer, Tafari Stevenson-Howard, boards a plane to Ghana to continue a journey started a year earlier in Brazil, where he spent of a month traveling between the cities of Salvador Bahia and Rio de Janeiro.

It’s a winding tale that peaks with a haunting vision and breaks off with some ominous advice and a giant crystal, before finally bringing him home—to a country he’s known his whole life and another he’s always remembered. Out of a powerful trip, Sankofa Passport is born, and a small business is launched during a time of global unrest and financial chaos.

This is the story of how a Detroit-based flight attendant turned healthcare worker turned photographer who becomes a curator and importer of West African goods—literally overnight.

A FEW MONTHS EARLIER IN DETROIT

On the edge of winter, coming off Valentine’s day, I stepped into Tafari’s home for the first time. The occasion is an all-night sound immersion—or sound bath—that takes place in his finished basement, lending a sort of high school party to the evening. Which is extra special, considering this is a group of mostly thirty and forty somethings.

If you’re not familiar with the sound bath concept, it’s pretty much how it sounds.Tafari, plays a combination of crystal and metal Tibetan singing bowls, while a group of people lie before him in the corpse position, eyes closed, bathed in waves of sound. Think combination yoga class-slumber party, with the perfect amount of blankets and pillows.

And if that sounds like the dumbest thing ever, allow me to clarify: you’re wrong. It’s fucking delightful. The experience can be best described along a spectrum of ‘Whoa. Where did I go?!” to “Wow! That was a refreshing nap.” Plus, Tafari always provides snacks at the end. Tonight it’s a home cooked meal of stuffed tater tots with black beans, onions and peppers, topped with cotija cheese, avocado and cilantro.

In addition to sound healer, Tafari’s a devoted father of two, a seasoned yoga practitioner and a professional photographer. And a damn fine chef.

Right now, he’s standing over a hot stove, recalling a crazy week of photoshoots and extra shifts as a substitute teacher. In a few weeks, he departs for Africa. It’s his first trip to the continent, and he’s got a lot to pack in.

The night’s sound bath goes extra deep with some magic plant fortification, cleansing chakras and psyches. It finishes with a revival meal at 2am of arguably the most crispiest, most delicious tater tots ever. Guests pop into the kitchen for seconds and thirds, before falling back into their respective sections of the living room, drowsy and satiated.

The clock strikes 3am. Some will crash here. Others will make their way home, sooner, hopefully, than later.

INTO THE BRAZILIAN RAINFOREST

Tafari provides sound healing during plant ceremonies, specifically ayahuasca and rapè.
 
“It was during an ayahuasca ceremony that I had a vision,” Tafari tells me.
 
“The vision initially was me rocking. I either was rocking, or I felt like I was rocking. There was this movement going on with my body. It didn’t feel voluntary—at all…I was just moving. 
 
“As I was going through this experience, everything within my mind’s vision had a red film over it. Next thing you know, I’m starting to see black bodies—stacked. Then I see black women, all red—they’re black, but they’re red. And it became very clear: I’m on a slave ship. 
I’m surrounded by my ancestors. 

“There was never talking. I just saw these still bodies and these still faces of black women. At that point, I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m in a full trip right now. I’m going to let this process.’ But that theme continued to carry—of ancestors and movement.”’