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Defending An Honorable Legacy: The Real Black History

Mossi

Burkina Faso( which means "Land of Upright People") is home to the Mossi. This region is home to many cultures that have been preserved despite the onslaught of colonialism

Each year when February comes back around, the mainstream American culture somehow manages to get away with promoting “black awareness” through learning, remembering, and celebrating “black history,” while continuing to promote the same exact “black heroes” and “black history milestones” over and over again.  But as unfortunate as it may sound, the origination of black history month really only has room for the acknowledgment of the history of blacks from the point of enslavement to the present.

In 1926, what we know today as “black history month” emerged as as “negro history week,” and was set during the shared birthday-week of two men who were thought to be very important people in the lives black Americans – Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglas.  Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a black American who was the son of former slaves, established the custom as a way to fight to get the presence of black Americans written into the history of the nation.

Just over 80 years after its establishment, in conjunction with a supposedly remarkable trail of milestones in the progression of blacks in this nation, we are still only left with two things: the men and women who fought and died for blacks to gain acknowledgment in a system that continues to oppress them, and a time line for our people that begins in 1619 when the first blacks arrived (as slaves) in America.  These people and events in the short life of black American history are what we are to be aware of, remember, and celebrate.  For the average black American, “black history” is restricted to the slave experience and the struggle to gain a respectable status in the eyes of white America.

Naaba Sagha, Interim Emperor of the Mossi Kingdom

Naaba Sagha, Interim Emperor of the Mossi Kingdom

But our history extends far beyond the exploitative endeavors of European colonizers.  Not only black Americans, but all of mankind, are descendants of the rich traditional culture that mothered all civilizations on earth.  While Europeans were fearing sea monsters, bathing once a month, and devising schemes to steal wealth and property that did not belong to them, the traditional peoples of Meritah (traditional Africa) were navigating across the world, trading, building schools, developing sciences, and laying down the foundation that all modern systems have now either adopted or stolen.  The traditional culture of our heritage has been passed down by ancestors for generations is still living throughout Meritah, and is even alive in the old stories, practices, and beliefs that were upheld in slave culture, and that are seen in black American culture today.  Traditional black cultures are at the root of all human history, thus true awareness, knowledge, and celebration of black history cannot be reached without acknowledgment of traditional origins.

What contributes to the value of traditional culture, is the way that it is kept alive.  Traditional culture has been maintained orally since the beginnings of human existence.  Vividly expressed through song, dance, ritual and ceremony, and family and community life, oral traditions have formed the roots of all cultures and have been admired, studied, and even exploited by the handfuls of modern societies that cannot help but recognize their beauty and value.  The elements that accentuate oral tradition are important pieces that build the richness of a culture.  Songs that tell stories of bravery, maturation, life tribulations, and heritage are sung by adults and shape the perspective of children from a young age.  Clothing, jewelry, and traditional make-up that are worn during rituals, ceremonies, and in day-to-day life remind all in the community of the beauty, strength, authority, and unity that defines their culture.  Instruments that are played engrave the melody of heritage in the hearts of each community member.

The power of oral tradition has been greatly overlooked and even degraded in the confusion of modern society. However, the spread of knowledge and culture from one generation to the next (through Priests, Elders, story-tellers and parents) provides an individual with social qualities and awareness that many in modern society cannot visualize.  By learning through an oral tradition, each individual receives a sense of social bonding, unification, cultural values, language, and practices that cannot be captured in any book – nor can it be reduced to a handful of “heroes” and “milestones.”  It is this tradition that is the root of black history, a tradition which has been systematically diminished by colonization and replaced with the “history” of enslavement.  How much longer can we allow the history of our oppression to replace the legacy that belongs to us, the real black history?

Defending an Honorable Legacy: The Richness of Tradition Forming the largest ethnic group in the country of Burkina Faso in Meritah, the Mossi people have thrived for generations.  Originally coming from the union of Dagomba royalty and Mende lineage, their culture has been growing since long before European colonization up to today.  Just like many other traditional cultures of Meritah, the Mossi culture has been fortified and kept alive through an oral tradition.

The Mossi oral tradition is upheld in the family structure, which is the most important aspect of their culture.  The family is the most important to traditional people because it is the family that provides an individual with their stability, their protection, and an awareness of their identity.  For Mossi people, an individual identity cannot be separated from the family and the collective unity of the entire community.  The Mossi live in an ordered system that reflects the greatness of the first ancient kingdoms of our heritage.

Mossi elder

This Mossi Elder represents the rich heritage found in Burkina Faso

Each family member has an important role to play in the maintenance of their values and culture.  Within their community, elders are respected as the first and final authority – they must be consulted before any individual may make important decisions, they stand as the deciding authority when someone does something wrong in the community, and they even decide how land will be used by the families within the community.  In a Mossi family, the father stands as the head (leader, organizer, adviser), or king, with his wife standing as the queen and backbone of the family – maintaining the fields and providing food and care for all , educating, and passing duties and responsibilities down to each child.  Each child then holds responsibilities for the siblings who come after him.   Aunts and uncles take responsibility for educating and disciplining children, and each person in the society is aware of their responsibility to one another.  It is through the structure of the family that the oral tradition remains efficient.

Holding such a high value for the family within their hearts, it is clear that the the Mossi peoples’ acknowledgment of their ancestors is at the center of their tradition.  Spiritual rituals and ceremonies are conducted by the Mossi using elaborate dance, masks, and music to acknowledge their ancestors.  The ancestors, the past relatives who have been raised to a high rank in the World of the Dead world of the dead, are recognized as the influencing force in our lives – they are the entities that can impact the events and experiences in the life of each individual depending on his or her actions. So, it is the ancestors who the Mossi raise their respect, honor, and prayers to in their spiritual activities.

Similar to practically all other traditional peoples, the Mossi recognize that without family and ancestors the individual is nothing.  The life of Mossi people is focused around the development of the self through spiritual activity and acknowledgment of the ancestors, and the stability and upliftment of the family and community through adherence and remembrance of traditional culture.  With the minds of each person committed to these aspects of life, the Mossi rise in dedication to the quality of their existence, and the prosperity of their way of life.

Today when we look at the traditional lands, cultures, and peoples of Meritah, the motherland of all humanity, we are forced to look through layers of destruction, devastation, exploitation, and corruption inflicted by the hands of European imperialism before we can see the ancient richness that was once dominant. We can see how the traditional cultures, like the Mossi, Bobo, Ashanti, Dogon, Kemetic, and Kushite, that mothered great and vast empires, are threatened under the grip of colonial rule.  Before the French colonizers arrived to conquer the peoples of traditional Burkina Faso, the Mossi believed that the arrival of the first white faces in the land would bring death to the people and the culture.  With the arrival of the French, the people of the land were submitted to centralized rule, slavery, taxation, and war.

Despite this troubling reality, the traditional Mossi are still thriving today.  They have a ceremony that honors the fight put forth by their King against the colonial invaders.  The ceremony, Mogho Naba, is performed as a reminder of the initial success of the Mossi King to deflect the might of colonial domination.  Even today, the country and the people of Burkina Faso maintain a reputation of embodying a revolutionary spirit – remembering their rich legacy, and the people who stood to defend it.

Kem Life

The Day of Tehuti: A Way To Live A Life With Purpose

Since the day of Tehuti, humanity has had a clear purpose that has inspired us to our greatest achievments

When brought into this world, we are all in the same position. We are completely susceptible to the circumstances that have been put there before us. As human beings we do not have the capabilities to invent, we can only copy what we see based off of the perception that we have. Whether these circumstances are helpful or damaging can be based on who put them there for us, what their agenda is and how that falls in line with society. Due to this vulnerability, it can be observed that the region of the world you are from and the values that are a part of that society will be all you know and shape how you live your life.the goals we come to have in life are not our own. They too have been put there for us to have but we are not able to see how a society shapes the people within it based on what the people who run the society want to achieve. This notion can be simply explained by using the example of a baby. A baby will learn how crawl, eat, walk and talk simply by observing those who are around him. If those who are around him want to help him learn these things in a faster time period, they then help him by providing tools that can better assist him with what he is trying to achieve. He will even learn at a quicker rate if he has more exposure to a model in people doing those things around him. You can see this in a young child as well. The behaviors that you see in them, whether they are positive or negative, can be found in the behaviors in their home, friends, family, and their teachers.

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On The Ancestral Path

On the Ancestral Path : What Are We Holding On To?

In order to accept new things into our lives, we have to let go of the heavy things we are holding on to.

An individual born and raised within this modern society will find that the Kemetic paradigm is far more difficult to grasp than one can imagine. It has become so foreign to us that we sometimes don’t see the purpose behind the value it carries in relation to the values we have been conditioned to hold as true. It is not an easy task to let go of the patterns that shape our lives and determine what is to become of our future, especially during our adult years, because by then we have only been exposed to what society has deemed “necessary” in order to maintain a sense of control regarding our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Although the Kemetic paradigm comes to give that control back to the individual, he finds himself rejecting many aspects of it simply due to the fear of losing parts of himself in a world that does not make sense according to what he has been taught in the modern society. This is the logic that prevents or delays the evolution of the individual towards accepting the values that belong to him.

It is not unusual to notice characteristics of the hypocrisy and contradictions associated with shifting from one paradigm to another. For the individual to move beyond exhibiting those traits, he must first fully understand, apply and practice what is known as detachment. Whether it’s regarding a person, place or thing, the ability for one to detach himself from any given equation is key and very vital to achieving an honest progression along the Kemetic spiritual path. But because the majority of us are led by our emotions, we can easily convince ourselves that striving to achieve something greater is not worth letting go of what we’re holding on to. 

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Kem Graduation

Graduation: The Call to Return Home

The Sakuhai Generation

The Sakuhai Generation includes students from the Chicago and New York Schools, united across the continent by Initiatic bonds. These are the Chicago graduates.

In the M’TAM education system, we say that the difficult part is not learning something new. The hardest part is saying goodbye. As initiates, our first priority is the paradigm shift that must take place. For this, we will have to say goodbye to many of the habits, values, mentalities, and even people in our lives. In the colonial world, we have been conditioned in a certain way that enables others to control us. The individual in the modern society has simply been hijacked and is being led to his own destruction without even knowing it.

Few of us are aware of how deeply the modern system has ingrained these seeds of destruction within us, but examples are everywhere. All we have to do is look at the state of our communities right now. While some people are feeling on top of the world, living their dreams, their neighbors on the other side of the tracks have to resort to desperate measures just to survive. While the system will hold up those who are supposedly succeeding for the whole world to admire, the others are simply put to the side. While the system will take credit for each “success,” each “failure” takes the blame for his own suffering. Each failure is punished for the desperate acts he must take due to his situation. Often this is a situation that he was born into, that he has no control over.

Sakuhai New York Graduates
Sakuhai Generation New York Graduates

We understand, based on these facts, that the human being is extremely vulnerable. We come into this world without the choice of who our parents will be or what kind of community we will come to. We are born into a world that we don’t understand and we only have those who came before us to give us our understanding of the world. The modern system has made its agenda clear. It will use any means at its disposal to ensure our understanding of the world is the one that it has defined for us. For us, this becomes how we define ourselves and we fight to protect this definition;

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Survivor's Notebook

Survivors Notebook: Bittersweet A Testimonial

Sugar

Many have an addiction to sugar that they sacrifice their health and sometimes even their lives to maintain.

Traditional wisdom tells us that poison comes with a sweetness. If poison was bitter, no one would eat it!

When I was a child, I used to get headaches. I was told they were migraines. You know, the kind that feel like there’s something inside of your brain that’s pushing it against the sides of your skull. The kind that throbs every time your heart beats. The kind that hurt so bad that I used to just lay in my bed and groan. I could barely function. To make matters worse, they would often be accompanied by intense nausea and vomiting.

My parents are both registered nurses. As professionals in the medical field, one may think that they would have a solution to my problem, or at least be able to tell me what was causing it. Unfortunately, I did not receive any insight or assistance as I continued to suffer this way for years.

When I was about 20 years old, I began to learn about natural health and diet and I completely changed my eating habits, basically cutting out any junk food, white flour, sugar and even salt, for the most part. From that point, my health improved significantly and I don’t remember having headaches during that period. However, as the years passed, some of my old eating habits were slowly reintroduced.

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