Mami Wata possesses African beauty. The appearance of her hair ranges from straight, curly to kinky black and combed straight back.[dead link] In many parts of West and Central Africa, "Mami Wata" where "Mami" means woman "Wata" meaning water this translates to a mermaid or humanistic water entity.
Mami Wata is often described as a mermaid-like figure, with a woman's upper body (often nude) and the hindquarters of a fish or serpent. In other tales, Mami Wata is fully human in appearance (though never human). The existence and spiritual importance of Mami Wata is deeply rooted in the ancient tradition and mythology of the coastal southeastern Nigerians (Efik, Ibibio and Annang people). Mami Wata often carries expensive baubles such as combs, mirrors, and watches. A large snake (symbol of divination and divinity) frequently accompanies her, wrapping itself around her and laying its head between her breasts. Other times, she may try to pass as completely human, wandering busy markets or patronising bars. She may also manifest in a number of other forms, including as a man. In the Yoruba tradition, the mother goddess Yemaja has been recently associated with Mami Wata in popular culture. Traders in the 20th century carried similar beliefs with them from Senegal to as far as Zambia. As the Mami Wata traditions continues to re-emerge, native water deities were subsumed into it.