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Talking Drum

The Talking Drum: The Crying Ceremony

Sister Khefira and Master Naba Lamoussa Morodenibig at The Earth Center in Ouagadougou in 2007.

THE EARTH CENTER FAMILY comes together annually to honor our ancestors Master Naba Lamoussa Morodenibig and Khefira Hasati. Master Naba, Maakheru (truth teller), our teacher came to the United States with a mission to heal the minds of everyone here in the colonial diaspora. He brought to us the sacred wisdom of Traditional Spiritual Masters. With this knowledge the children of the colonial diaspora can set out to live a life of quality. This sacred information is under the protection of the ancestors that have preserved these teachings for over 2,500 years. Through these teachings, I am learning to face my own corruption and strive to be a better human being. Sister Khefira is an important pillar in the sisterhood of the M’TAM schools, having upheld many important responsibilities within the Earth Center during her life. The example set by her has become a model for all future Earth Center generations.

After a 13 hour drive I arrived at a spacious Chicago property. I was greeted with warm smiles and hugs. “The men are here and the women’s quarters are there,” I was told before I was whisked away with my luggage to a comfortable three story house packed with women and sleeping children. The concrete cushioned our bare feet as we moved from one house to the next. I would never dream of walking around New York with out shoes. It was another reality, and the sun had not yet risen to reveal what was to come in this small but steadily growing Kem community. The Kemioo are devoted to the evolution of humanity. The Kem leads by example by improving the quality of their own behavior. With a humble and honest approach to the Divine World, The Kem strives to maintain the purity of the mind, body and spirit.

Before sunrise, we all gathered for silent prayer and meditation. The crying ceremony is the time for the school to honor the transitioning of our Master Teacher and sister. I observed the energy that was emitted from my Kem family. I counted at least seventy Kemioo present within the two homes and the numbers were rising. Dressed in all white, we honored our ancestors with silent lamentations and tears. Quietly I attempted to understand what my Khateniu (elder students/teachers) were feeling. I never personally experienced the wisdom and discipline that Master Naba gifted, or danced and prepared a meal with Sister Khefira. All I had to offer was the acknowledgment of the sacrifices they made so that we could have this education. I slept that night with so many questions that I knew would be answered in the next few hours, with out me asking them.

The next morning, I was awakened by fellow whispering sisters. “I think we should wake them now.” The sun shone on the faces of sleeping women and children. I was captivated by the beauty of my Kem family who I was meeting for the first time. I showered and headed outside to do my ablutions (spiritual purification) in the warm Chicago sun. To my surprise there were tents pitched in the back yard and even more Kemioo stepped out to add to the rising energy.

The day was spent sharing stories of our beloved ancestors. The elder students shared tales of their spiritual journey, what attracted them to Master Naba’s teachings and how they arrived at the Earth Center. I found that I resonated with many of their experiences. It was made clear that Master Naba and Sister Khefira are major pillars in our Kem Community. They dedicated their lives to protecting the purity of Kem Culture. Their treasures are divided up amongst all the Kemioo that were present; I could see their spirit coming through the voices, smiles and expressions of everyone and everything around us.

It was not about comparison, and there was no place for envy, jealousy and judgement. I found the comfort to let go of my mistakes, self hatred and self pity. I absorbed the energy emitted from every last Kemioo. I looked to my Generational sister Christa Weathers and admired the sacrifices she makes to hold our generation together. The Earth Center resuscitated my wasted being and provided me with sustenance to live a life with purpose. I placed my offering in a wooden bowl that was positioned between pictures of Master Naba and Sister Khefira.

Khefira, with her striking features emitted a beauty of her own that I had never seen here on Earth. To appear so strong yet so soft in just a photograph was only a portion of her complex magnificence. In her eyes were struggles of self discovery, patience and purity. She embraced the culture as a missing piece of her being and it showed in the quality of her just sitting there in allowing her true self to be photographed. The photo of Master Naba was one that I had seen many times before. His seriously kind eyes reminded me of the sacredness of initiation and my duty to uphold the quality of the education.

The evening was concluded by a feast prepared by all the Kem men and women. Children were either chasing each other and playing games or strapped to the backs of one of their many mothers. In traditional society every man and woman takes responsibility for every child, and every child sees every adult as mother and father. The community worked in unison cooking, cleaning and caring for each child. Never was there an eruption of arguments. This was not your average family reunion. I had never seen any thing like it. It felt like home, all actions were executed with spiritual quality.

Kemioo from around the country gather at the Earth Center in Chicago to share their experiences with Master Naba Lamoussa Morodenibig and Imaya Khefira Hasati.

What weighed on my heart the most, was the curiosity of what it would have been like to sit and talk to Maakheru and Seneet Khefira. Then I realized that at some point during the cry, I had spent time with them. During the morning ceremony I had neglected to eat, so I hushed my growling stomach. Across the patio, Master Naba’s daughter Aaniyah stood behind her mother as she shared stories of her husband. I caught eyes with Ya Ya and she raised up a piece of her sandwich she was eating as if to offer me some. Later in the day she sat next to me on the porch and we shared a bowl of granola. I noticed that she had a bowl of rocks that she was collecting. I handed her a purple cloth that was tied into a knot. I told her to open it, out poured a collection of stones that I planned to offer to Master Naba. I will never forget her smile. It was the exact smile I had seen in the Rising Firefly (Quarterly Journal of Kemetic Culture produced by the Earth Center) in a picture of Maakheru resting in the Sahara sand.

Neera, Sister Khefira’s daughter engaged in an interesting game of peek-a-boo with her father as he spoke of his wife. She played in his thick ‘locks, smiled and danced around him expressing the vibrant energy he spoke of. This child moves with a quiet strength that you cannot help but recognize and honor.

As we prepared to depart it took about an hour for me to bid farewell to everyone present at the Cry. We loaded up three vans with luggage and initiates who were traveling back to New York and then to the airport for our annual Pilgrimage to Meritah. Even though I never had the honor of meeting Master Naba and Sister Khefira in their physical state, I left the Cry knowing they were my family. Based upon the values and quality in which they lived their life, I understand that they gave their lives in order to preserve this cultural treasure that now rests in our hands. I can’t help but to look at the example of the Kem community with hopes that my immediate family can come together like this. It is my obligation to uphold the quality of these same teachings and to teach others the value of our culture. Master Naba and Seneet Khefira… to know you is to be at peace.

Women of the Earth Center from across the country share a traditional communal meal.

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