Baba Ifayomi (Arthur Riggins)

Chief Arthur Riggins was born in 1950 in Austin, Texas. His parents are Arthur Lee Riggins and Dorothy Willey. His father fought in the Korean War and he was taken as a small child from his young mother and raised by his grandmother and great-grandmother in West Texas. He moved to the South during the Jim Crow era, which he described as the American version of South African apartheid. This was a time when segregation existed and there were places and sections that were specifically designated only for blacks.

During his life, he was committed to the restoration of African nationalism in America under the guidance of the oba of Oyotunji Village in Burford, South Carolina. He helped to start the local Egbe Eegunjobi, an African Ancestral Society where one can learn the ways and thoughts of African cultures and traditions. In 1996, he went to Nigeria with the Egungun Society, an African ancestral society, where he was blessed and made a high priest. It was his job to perform ancestral ceremonies, console the family during a death, and perform birth ceremonies in Dallas. He thus preferred to be called by his African name Baba Ifayomi.

He was also involved in efforts to remove a South African embassy at Fair Park in Dallas and to have the city divest. He was active in protests against the death penalty and a 2017 march in support of immigrants. He organized Dallas’ Malcolm X and Harambee festivals.

He died tragically on May 1, 2017. Read his obituary here.

Baba Ifayomi, or  “Chief Arthur Riggins”