N’Delamiko is a powerful priestess who refuses to be held back.
As a child, N’Delamiko Bey, stood up for what she believed was right, and boldly challenged what she believed was wrong, a trait that has only grown as she did.
Speaking to the Girls Narrative Project in an exclusive interview, Water Spirits Priestess N’Delamiko revealed that activism and spiritual lineage are very much in her blood, with her Trinidadian father, paving the way for her and many others in his homeland.
“When it comes to the spirituality and his contributions to the spiritual landscape of Trinidad and Tobago, this is why he’s a venerated elder. There are shrines all over this country that he built. He was a master drummer, master drum maker and that was the life I was born into,” she said of her father.
“The day they brought me home from the hospital, my mother says that my father took me from her and they put me down in a circle of drums and they drummed from morning till night,” she revealed.
While N’Delamiko and her brother grew up in Barbados with their mother, whose side of the family did not embrace their own spiritual lineage, preferring to be ‘proper’, she said she nevertheless felt an affinity for the water and being in the sea was one of the things that brought very real joy to her.
“That period in my life, where we were living there, even though there was all this other stuff going on, all these other problems, all these other dramas, all this other stuff, I always remember that as being the happiest part of my childhood, because the sea was right there. There was nothing that was going on in that house, in my life or anything that I couldn’t go into that water and feel better,” she said speaking of her girlhood in Barbados.
Expanding on this time, she reminisced about going to school at the Convent and hating it because of the way she was bullied, but being able to come home and immerse herself into the sea , finding solace.
“More than once I remember literally coming home from school, walking through the house, dropping my bag, taking off my clothes, my knickers, my shoes and my socks and heading straight into the water in my panty. It would be the only peace I’d had that whole day and I would stay there until the sun went down. That’s what made me happy. And that period in my life ended very abruptly,” she said, voice taking on a wistful edge.
Throughout the interview, N’Delamiko, spoke of the many ways she has faced bullying during her youth, which she revealed was late 80’s to early 90’s and even spoke of one of the first acts of resistance to a teacher who bullied her at only the age of 5.
“She used to beat me and tell me, ‘oh, wait, you feel because you’re red and you live in a house with a long driveway that you better than me?’ And beat me. Any excuse to beat me. She’d say, you little red bitch. You little red dog. She’s calling me a little red nigger. Little white nigger. She’d call me and beat me in front of the classroom. So, that went on until one day, I think Miko had just about fucking had enough. I made a mistake in my math and she called me up and pull out the long ruler and I knew a beating was coming. Man, and I peed myself and she laughed at me and started to beat me anyways. So, I took my licks, I’m crying. Pee running all down my leg and if I’m five, I just reached five,” she recounted.
N’Delamiko explained that after she took the beating, she calmly went over to her shelf where her book bag and lunchbox were and picked them up, before walking back over to the teacher. It was then that she hit her teacher with her big, red, Aladdin lunch box as hard as she could, and walked out of the school.
“I hit her so hard, she hollered so hard the whole floor empty to come and see what was going on. By the time I left, them running to see what was going on, because I very calmly walked out of the classroom, walked down the corridor, walked across the school yard, went through the gate and went and promptly got lost in Bush Hall. I was like, fuck this popsicle stand, I’m out! Somebody found me wandering and that’s how I got back to civilization,” she recounted.
N’Delamiko has a long history of standing up for herself in a society that she said did not appreciate her outspokenness, however, she is not one to let such a thing stop her, and when she became a journalist in her early twenties, wrote candidly about being a survivor of rape.
“I did it because I wanted people to know somebody who had been raped, publicly, that was unwilling to hide it. That was really part of the decision, I wanted to de-stigmatize it, I want everybody to see this, because up until this point, nobody had ever put that in the press. Nobody had ever put that in print. I wanted it that this was something that they could look at and say, ‘ok, this is not something that is my fault. I didn’t do anything wrong’. And I was what, nineteen, the first time I wrote it,” she said.
Continuing she revealed that she wanted to make it very clear that the shame of the sexual assault should not be heaped onto the victim, but onto the rapist and remembers two different experiences of women coming up to her afterwards to tell her how her writing that changed their lives.
Although N’Delamiko considers herself to be self-contained, she does admit that she wished for a stronger sense of real sisterhood in her youth, especially as it never felt as if there was a safe environment where she could speak freely about what had happened to her.
“There was just no environment where you could go to an adult and tell them, this person touched me, this person did this, and they would act. As I got older, I think that if I’d had a stronger sisterhood as a teenager, maybe my early 20s, navigating that water, even if wasn’t necessarily informative, because no girls at that age know much, you really don’t. We tell ourselves, but we don’t. I think it would have helped to mitigate some of that isolation that I felt,” she said.
N’Delamiko explained that it distresses her how youths are being encouraged to stay quiet about their abuse and the older adults act as if it was the child or victim’s fault that they were abused or assaulted.
Being a very outspoken person, N’Delamiko said she has been severely marginalized and been largely unemployable because of her nature, thus went through many hardships including being underpaid and exploited because at the time she did not know her full worth, but she was very fierce about unavailability for compromising.
“You can’t be red and pretty and don’t put out. You gotta be… Pick two. Barbados is the kind of place where you’ve got to pick two. And I resisted all of that. I’d be in business meetings with them and I’d tell them listen, touch me and you’re dead now,” she said.
Living in Trinidad now, N’Delamiko said her son also suffered along with her through homelessness, destitution and welfare, because she is unable to be fake with people, but she is nothing if not resilient and creative. To this end, she has launched her own business and is trying to create a world where her son will respect women and himself as well as understand his own spiritual power.
“He will know the value of listening to the women around him. He’ll have reached manhood and known the value of separating his orgasm from his ejaculation. That he will know the value of his spiritual life and the spiritual power of the women around him and rely on that and give freely to it so that he may receive,” she said.
“That’s the gift I would like to give I would like to give the world. It’s a different kind of man. I’m trying. And if ya’ll think calling this bullshit out on Facebook is hard, try doing it with a thirteen-year-old you gave birth to, who is six inches taller than you and a hundred and some pounds heavier, who thinks he’s a man. I’m just saying, it’s hard work calling it out in him. Hard, emotional work, man”.
N’Delamiko said she was already seeing a change in the way younger women were responding to men and white people that was very different from her generation and that of her grandparents. She also said she is expecting to see a revolution soon and hoped to see it all ‘catch fire’ before she dies.
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Ashlee Cox is a multi-genre author and writer. She formerly worked for leading news outlets within the Caribbean, as a journalist, and is currently the lead writer on her blog ‘Ashlee Unscripted’.