African religious group sues 'Mad Mad House', claims voodoo priestess isn't legit
By Reality TV World staff, 02/29/2004
An African religion advocacy group has sued the broadcasters and producers of the Scifi Channel's upcoming Mad Mad House reality show, alleging that the show "demeans and misrepresents the voodoo religion."
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the National African Religion Congress Inc., a group headquartered in Philadelphia, last week filed a federal lawsuit against Universal Studios Inc., USA Cable Entertainment, and House of Eleven Productions seeking a court order to force the companies to change Mad Mad House's advertising and programming to "properly identify Asanti as an Ifa, not a voodoo priestess" and forbid the broadcast of any episode that "falsely portrays any practice of African-based religions."
"People already have negative feelings about this religion without a program like this exacerbating things," George Ware, the president of the five-year-old organization, told The Inquirer. Comprised of over 4,500 members, the group represents numerous African religions including Akan, the Orisa Tradition of Trinidad and Tobago, Ifa, Santeria-Yoruba, voodoo, Candomble and Lucumi.
The group's main issue seems to be that, according to the lawsuit, Iya Ta'Shia Asanti, presented in Mad Mad House's promotions as a voodoo priestess, is not actually a voodoo priestess, but instead a priestess of "Yemoja in the Ifa tradition," a faith of the Yoruba people of Africa.
The lawsuit notes that Asanti does not dress as a voodoo priestess, and that a commercial that shows the Big Brother-like program's ten contestants being placed in a pit and covered with animal innards "does not represent voodoo or Ifa" -- a note that seems irrelevant and included for sensationalist purposes only, as nowhere in the commercial does the promo allege that the scene represents a voodoo or Ifa custom.
The lawsuit also reveals that the organization might not exactly be the most unbiased or objective party on the topic, as it contents that the producers only approached Asanti to participate in the Mad Mad House after Gro Mambo Angela Novanyon, a recognized Haitian voodoo high priestess who also just happened to found the congress, refused to participate in the program.