With a deep, booming voice that was made for radio and a ready laugh that sets guests and callers alike at ease, Candelo Kimbisa uses his encyclopedic knowledge of the mysterious world of African religions to educate, enlighten and entertain. But who is he really? Read on…
Born in 1967, Candelo Kimbisa had a connection to the unseen world from the very beginning, from the basement seances in the Bronx which formed his earliest childhood memories to late night listening to Casey Kasem and Dr. Demento on Boston’s WRKO.
When his family moved from Boston to Miami in 1977, Candelo became a fan of local shock jock Neil Rogers, noting: “I had bought my first car, a little square Chevy… but it only had AM radio! Maybe that’s where my passion for talk radio started…”
Though a gifted student, Candelo soon fell in with neighborhood gangs and spent his late high school years “running the streets,” eventually becoming initiated into Palo Mayombe (an Afro-Cuban shamanic religion based on the beliefs of Central African tribes) as a way to seek protection from the law:
“I met this lady… on an elevator.. [who] looked at me with these penetrating eyes and gave me a reading right there on the spot.. ‘Your path is not to be selling drugs…” she told me. “Your path is not to be dirtying your hands.” Being a young hoodlum at the time, I took it as ‘the spirits don’t want me to work’… but of course I knew deep down inside what it really meant!”
Sentenced to Federal prison in 1998 on a drug trafficking charge, Candelo he found himself reevaluating his life, eventually getting his GED and scoring in the 90th percentile on the test. In search of constructive outlets for his time, he subscribed to a mindfulness correspondence course, beginning a practice which he continues to this day:
“I actually started a Buddhist meditation group there [in prison], we had use of the chapel twice a week…” recalls Candelo. “We were doing that and one night I remember laying down in bed and in the middle of meditation, my body started dissolving like it was in the transporter beam in Star Trek… I was lifted into outer space, my body dissolved, and then the molecules reassembled themselves… that’s the only way i can describe it. It was that experience that said to me ‘this [meditation] is a beautiful science’ – it was life changing.”
Simultaneous with his journey into meditation, Candelo continued to grow as an African spiritualist, teaching other inmates how to honor the spirits of deceased slaves who haunted the prison:
“I remember towards the end of my stint… I had a corner room [which] were popular amongst the inmates because they had some degree of privacy… So I someone asked me to ‘sell’ him my room, and I sold it for $300. So I moved my boveda [ancestral spirit altar] first, and at 2 or 3 in the morning, we hear hair-raising screams, and he came running out of his room, and towards mine… and he said a big black woman came and pulled him out of his bed, and said he didn’t belong there!
Now this was in Yazoo, Mississippi, which is surrounded by cotton fields… the Indians called it the “river of death” and it’s a very active, highly charged spiritual place. I had to explain to him a little but about spirituality and then he finally left a cup of water for that spirit, and the nightmares stopped!”
Released in 2005, Candelo found himself adrift and in need of a new teacher, and what he found began to increase his sense of personal mission.
“I had always been part of the problem… and now I knew I had to be part of the solution… It wasn’t like I had a new spirituality, it’s always been there… but now I really, really,really wanted to help people…. Not only did I know I could never sell drugs again, but I also became much more serious.”
With a renewed sense of purpose, Candelo began to work with community clients as a healer and diviner, eventually coming into contact with producers from KDCL, an internet radio station hosting various shows on paranormal topics. He was soon offered a guest spot, and eventually his own show; recalls Candelo, “after prodding, I finally got up the guts and I did it…. I was nervous as hell, I’d never done radio!”
Today the “Art Bell of Palo Mayombe” lives in Southern Florida with his dog “Ndoki”, where he’s writing a supernatural novel based on Palo and the ATRs. Calm and at peace, he chuckles at his youthful errors, nothing that “everything in life happens for a reason… but sometimes it takes a powerful shock to change your course and find your real mission in life.”
His thousands of fans and loyal listeners will definitely agree that he has!
Candelo’s Corner broadcasts every Monday from 8-10PM, EST.