The First Book of the Black Goddess

In 1999 Matomah Alesha published the first edition of this book, and my research found it listed both as The First Book of the Black Goddess and The First Book of the Dark Goddess. While published through a vanity press (, this book is more than just vanity. It’s a research tool, if you can get past the writing and concentrate on the information. 


Alesha’s passion regarding the goddesses of Africa has driven her to do extreme amounts of research. Unfortunately, her passion has compiled an impressive amount of dry, nearly academic information. Throughout the book I read accounts of goddesses that intrigued me and heightened my enthusiasm, but the writing was so flat that I found myself yawning. Nevertheless, the book looks at not just African goddesses and priestesses but also some of the so-called dark goddesses. It includes an extensive look at the body image of women, our body functions and the body traits unique to black women throughout the world. Also discussed are the clan systems, men’s roles in feminism and sexual identity for all women.  


The List of Goddesses in Appendix 1 alone is enough reason to purchase this book as a reference tool. The Bibliography is long and detailed and a tribute to the researcher. The author even includes further reading on the topic and suggested websites. Despite all of this, time and time again I felt disappointment and frustration when pages didn’t match the Table of Contents, and I had to continue leafing through to find what I wanted.  Simple spelling errors became routine occurrences.


In the past five years there have been a slew of books written about the dark goddesses. Years ago I read a novel which began my interest in the black goddesses of Africa and the Black Madonnas. At the time there were few books that went into depth on the subject. I would have been thrilled to find this book at that time, and even with its flaws, am still thrilled to find it. I would suggest some kind proofreader and editor get their hands on this book so as to it justice.


 ~ review by Denise Bell

Author: Matomah Alesha
Matam Press 2004
406 pp., $24.99

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