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Fortifying Our Foundation: The First Kem Graduation in Kemet

In 2006, Master Naba left America for good after living and teaching here for eleven years. Most of his time was spent in Chicago, which has been home to the first branch of The Earth Center and the M’TAM School of Kemetic Philosophy and Spirituality since 1998. Since then, several new branches have been established on the East and West coasts. The expansion of The Earth Center in any capacity is a phenomenal and ancestrally blessed event of major significance and symbolism. But when Master Naba moved back home and opened the first Earth Center branch in Merita (Africa), in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to be exact, that event took on a significance that was entirely different from the earlier opening of branches in the United States.
A Muslim dominated and French colonised country, Burkina Faso is considered the cultural capital of Merita. Its location makes it a central connection point between many other West African nations as it borders Ghana, Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, Niger and Mali. Earlier, Burkina Faso was also a strategic geographic location to capture and sell Africans during the holocaust of enslavement. The majority of the captured Meritans were not from the coasts they were shipped from. They came from the inland, making Burkina Faso one of the most targeted territories by slave traders and their coastal allies. This historical fact points to a very dynamic and pronounced culture that exists within Burkina Faso. Many were taken from Burkina Faso not only because its location made it convenient but also because, like neighbouring inland territories, it was home to Dogon bloodlines which are the intellectual treasures of Kemetic culture.  This provided for very powerful cultures in these areas; to this day Burkina is the home of some of the strongest and most steadfast traditional cultures in Merita.  In the rural areas of Burkina Faso even today there are many ethnic groups that have successfully resisted colonial influence and have maintained their lifestyle and customs even through the eras of the Atlantic enslavement holocaust, imperialism and today’s globalism.
In the times of the holocaust of enslavement many of these tribes like the Gourmantche (Master Naba’s ethnic group) were well known for helping villages which had their populations depleted or threatened by enslavement raids.  There are many tribal pacts today that were solidified by tribes in order to honour ethnic groups, like the Gourmantche, that had saved them from or stolen them back from a fate of slavery.  Many of these tribes that others feel indebted to are found in Burkina Faso.  One can begin to see why The Land of Incorruptible Men (translation of Burkina Faso) is considered the traditional knowledge capital of Merita, and why  protecting it’s cultures there from colonial cultures and corruption is essential to the survival of traditional Kemetic culture.
Opening The Earth Center there was nothing short of revolutionary, which also means that it is very dangerous as well. Merita represents the mother hen. If one captures the mother hen, her baby chicks are at their captor’s mercy. Meaning, Merita was damaged the most by the effects of colonialism, far more than any other land on Earth. Colonizing Africa made the rest of the world much easier to conquer. But in turn, to re-conquer the soul of Africa is to liberate her children around the world. This is the goal Master Naba set when he opened the first Earth Center branch in Merita in 2006. This is still the goal of all of his students who are sustaining the spiritual battle that will one day allow Merita to re-claim all of her children and educate them in the ways and lifestyle of preserving and honouring life.
What also makes this undertaking dangerous is the fact that The Earth Center is slowly, but very effectively, opening the minds of many Burkinabe (Burkina natives) who are sincerely seeking a deeper connection with their history. It would be easy for one who lives outside of Merita to think that those born there are more aware of Kemetic (African) history than those of us in the diaspora because they are closer to the living history. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. Sometimes it’s easier to see things more clearly from an outsider’s point of view. In any case, there are colonial powers that will always take an antagonistic position regarding anything that may trigger a wave of intelligent thinking within the society it controls. Recently, The Earth Center and its students have been labelled as the “anti-Christ” by some Christian observers, and I was informed that a group of Muslims had actually plotted to come to The Earth Center with weapons to assassinate Master Naba. These are things that Master Naba and the students there in Ouagadougou experience daily. The vigilance and courage that it requires to continue the work that Master Naba started in the heart of a Muslim stronghold is highly commendable. Vigilance and courage are what made the graduation of the First Generation of initiates on Kemetic soil a monumental event.
In major cities here in America, there appears to be much higher tolerance for diverse systems of belief or worship. Although The Earth Center students here in Chicago, New York and California have had their fair share of unfavorable interactions with the public and even with members of their own families, no one has been threatened or publicly shunned. In Merita it’s much more common. But interestingly, there remains more people who support the education The Earth Center provides than those who don’t.
It was truly a bittersweet graduation ceremony on Ateeri 9th, 408 (November 17, 2008), almost four months after Master Naba’s passing. The tone of the energy was set hours before the ceremony began when a group of traditional drummers loudly filled every space that the sound of their drums could reach. Meanwhile behind The Earth Center, ceremonial offerings were being prepared and executed for the graduating students, while in the kitchen women cooked an incredible array of dishes to serve after the graduation ceremony. The atmosphere was energized with a strong ancestral presence that was difficult to explain but easy to feel. Many people came to witness the historical event.
The Earth Center welcomes the Shenmira generation, which became the Ninth generation of Kem to complete the initiatic requirements set by Master Naba that are mandatory for all students striving for higher levels of the Kemetic knowledge as passed down from the temples of the Nile and Niger Valleys via the Dogon priesthood.
The Earth Center’s Kem family welcomed four graduates; Iritah Shenmira (Naba Lamoussa Bassirou), Baamon Shenmira (Kpelafia Sekou Malik), Bousaa Shenmira (Yerbanga Oussman) and Maatibptah Shenmira (Lalou Didier). After two years of study under Master Naba, these four students met and conquered the challenges they were forced to face. They are also trained M’TAM instructors who, at present, already teach four generations of less tenured students.
The establishment of The Earth Center in Merita bridged the cultural divide that has not served blacks well neither at home nor in the diaspora, especially when the goal was to learn about each other.  Because of Master Naba’s tireless efforts, all Earth Center students here and abroad are given the same ancestral education. America has produced eight generations of initiates, whose common goal is to return to Merita and teach eventually spreading the initiatic education to the children of Merita around the globe and in Merita. In addition, graduates of the first level of the M’TAM initiation can now continue their studies in Merita without any restrictions on how long they would like to stay. This opportunity was made possible only through the M’TAM education which Master Naba provided and through the principles that bind all Kem and Earth Center students, The Code of Human Behavior.
I remember hearing a lecture by Dr. John Henrik Clarke, a noted black historian. He said, “The liberation of Africa will come from her children in the diaspora”. If it is up to us to build the world we want to see, I think we are making a good start.  Through the efforts of a Dogon Spiritual Master and his American-born students, and for the first time in the colonized areas, a purely traditional, purely Tamertic (African) school has been built on Kemetic soil.  We are proud to say that we have graduated the first Earth Center generation of Kem back home! And at this moment, four more generations are following in their footsteps of these first initiates/graduates. Time and patience have served The Earth Center well. May the ancestors continue to allow the blessings of the Neteru to reach the Shenmira generation… forever.