"Traditions on both sides of the Atlantic tell of the spirit abducting her followers or random people whilst they are swimming or boating. She brings them to her paradisiacal realm, which may be underwater, in the spirit world, or both. Should she allow them to leave, the travellers usually return in dry clothing and with a new spiritual understanding reflected in their gaze. These returnees often grow wealthier, more attractive, and more easygoing after the encounter."
"Van Stipriaan further reports that other tales describe river travellers (usually men) chancing upon the spirit. She is inevitably grooming herself, combing her hair, and peering at herself in a mirror. Upon noticing the intruder, she flees into the water and leaves her possessions behind. The traveller then takes the invaluable items."
"Later, Mami Wata appears to the thief in his dreams to demand the return of her things. Should he agree, she further demands a promise from him to be sexually faithful to her. The agreement grants the person riches; refusal to return the possessions or to be faithful brings the man ill-fortune." "Her worship is as diverse as her initiates, priesthood and worshippers, although some parallels may be drawn. Groups of people may gather in her name, but the spirit is much more prone to interacting with followers on a one-on-one basis. She thus has many priests and mediums in Africa, America and in the Caribbean who are specifically born and initiated to her."
"In Nigeria, devotees typically wear red and white clothing, as these colors represent that particular Mami's dual nature. In Igbo iconography, red represents such qualities as death, destruction, heat, being male, physicality, and power. In contrast, white symbolises death, but also can symbolize beauty, creation, being female, new life, spirituality, translucence, water, and wealth."
"This regalia may also include a cloth snake wrapped about the waist. The Mami Wata shrines may also be decorated in these colors, and items such as bells, carvings, Christian or Indian prints, dolls, incense, spirits, and remnants of previous sacrifices often adorn such places."
"Intense dancing accompanied by musical instruments such as African guitars or harmonicas often forms the core of Mami Wata worship. Followers dance to the point of entering a trance. At this point, Mami Wata possesses the person and speaks to him or her."
"Offerings to the spirit are also important, and Mami Wata prefers gifts of delicious food and drink, alcohol, fragrant objects (such as pomade, powder, incense, and soap), and expensive goods like jewellery. Modern worshippers usually leave her gifts of manufactured goods, such as Coca-Cola or designer jewellery."
"Nevertheless, she largely wants her followers to be healthy and well off. More broadly, people blame the spirit for all sorts of misfortune. In Cameroon, for example, Mami Wata is ascribed with causing the strong undertow that kills many swimmers each year along the coast."
Image: "Van Stipriaan also believes that this period introduced West Africa to what would become the definitive image of Mami Wata. Circa 1887, a chromolithograph of a female Samoan snake charmer appeared in Nigeria. According to the British art historian Kenneth C. Murray, the poster was titled Der Schlangenbändiger ("The Snake Charmer") and was originally created sometime between 1880 and 1887."
"Dr. Tobias Wendl, director of the Iwalewa-Haus Africa Centre at the University of Bayreuth, was unable to confirm this after extensive searching (as Der Schlangenbändiger is a masculine term, the title seems suspect). He did discover a very similar photograph titled Die samoanische Schlangenbändigerin Maladamatjaute ("the Samoan Snake Charmer (fem.) Maladamatjaute") in the collection of the Wilhelm-Zimmermann Archive in Hamburg."
"Whichever the original image, it was almost certainly a poster of a celebrated late 19th-century snake charmer who performed under the stage name "Nala Damajanti", which appeared in several variations, particularly "Maladamatjaute", at numerous venues, including the Folies Bergère in 1886."
"This identification was also made by Drewal in a 2012 book chapter on Mami Wata. Despite exotic claims of her nationality, she was later identified as one Émilie Poupon of Nantey, France. This image—an enticing woman with long, black hair and a large snake slithering up between her breasts, ambiguous if she is human or mermaid beyond the image—apparently caught the imaginations of the Africans who saw it; it was the definitive image of the spirit."
"Before long, Mami Wata posters appeared in over a dozen countries and the popular image was reproduced in 1955 by the Shree Ram Calendar Company in Bombay for the African market. People began creating Mami Wata art of their own, much of it influenced by the lithograph."
There is a great Documentary called "The Tribes and animals of the great Congo river: The river that swallows all rivers" by KBS, mentioning the Goddess "Mamiwata", and how she could kill a man by "eating the brains". Just like the Japanes man having a dream of this water Goddess, an African man is seen drawing the same depiction.