Mama Wata & Aphrodite
The word, “watu,” came to me today.
Looking it up, I saw that it was Swahili in origin and is interesting because it means, “folk.” But, more importantly, it opens up the idea of language and transit between places and people. Many Swahili word, even the word Zanzibar, show an Arabic/Persian influence. This would make me think that the Levant made its way to interior Africa and had a significant impact on those early cultures.
Thinking of “watu” then led me think of the word, “wata.”
In Hausa, the word “wata” means moon. Of course the moon influences tides and, as embodiment of Aphrodite, I also thought of mermaids. In looking at language, Mama Wata equates to Mama Moon.
If you spend time researching Egyptian lore, you will see that a few of the demi-gods and goddesses have a Nubian origin or influence. The kingdom of Nubia had its own pantheon. Mama Wata was considered “foreign” and of a non-African/non-Nubian origin.
I would contend that she is derived from Aphrodite/Isis and the Mama Wata legend sprang from the same source as that of Melusine.