Pursuing Personal Quality – A Welcome to the Sahqara Generation
The continent is Africa (Meritah). A full moon has risen early in a still sunlit sky. A village compound with a carpenter on a low stool in the center of the yard building a large frame using raffia bamboo. The carpenter’s seven-year-old son enters the yard and starts this conversation.
“Tapsei, Papa (Good work, Papa). That’s a big moon tonight, Papa.“
“O yes,” the carpenter says, continuing to measure, cut, and chisel bamboo. He is making frames for a pyramid roof for their kitchen.
“I see something on it. It looks like…. like….
…a man chopping wood?”
“And is that an axe he’s holding above his head?”
“Why is he chopping wood in the moon?”
“He didn’t begin in the moon. He was making wood for his wife to cook for their children,” Papa says, and the puzzled son, distracted by another child, runs off… but two days later he rejoins the carpenter.
“Papa, the wood chopper in the moon!”
“It’s been two days, but he is still standing there. On the same spot… His children must be starving now?”
“No, the man is dead,” Papa said smiling.
“HEHBEH! Dead? What is he doing standing dead in the moon?”
“Well, he was making firewood, but Death came before he finished. You see, when Death comes for a person, that person must go without finishing his work. So the man went away with Death, but he was making something useful. So Ancestors put him on the moon to say this to all of us: always be busy making useful things so that when it is your turn to walk away with Death, you will not regret what you were making.”
As with many teaching stories in African communities, this wood chopper story includes a lesson about knowing the value of useful knowledge. African education (called initiation) draws a line between useful knowledge and useless knowledge. Useless knowledge is all around us, and we pay for this knowledge with our very lives: 12+ years of our lives for a secondary school diploma level of that knowledge; 4+ years for the bachelor’s degree level; 2+ years for the masters levels; 1+ more years for specialised levels (MBA or LLB or MD or others); 4+ years for the highest levels (DLit, PhD, LLD or MFA). You then take these certificates, like vouchers, and stand in line for work/money at different sites (just like plantations) so that you can now buy what your communities were already producing before these plantations took over the land.
As your body ages inexorably – because it is preparing to retire – you too begin to ask questions other aging people are asking in their own homes or in nursing homes: “What did I get for my effort, for the knowledge my certificates say I have?” That is if you remember to ask. “Actually, I do remember,” you might say. “I and others like me used this useless knowledge to win olympic and other gold medals, to build large businesses, to join professional sports teams, to rise through the ranks in numerous other fields, and also to rise to wealth and fame in music, cinema, and many other spots coveted as our ultimate goal for this kind of knowledge – a lifestyle of carefree comfort.”
From the Kemetic (Traditional African) perspective, knowledge sought only to enhance our comfort during this phase of life on Earth is utterly useless knowledge. Yet for over two thousand years, pursuit of comfort has been the reason people avoid studying death and the transition to the afterlife – events which we all must experience. And so all knowledge that distracts us from looking as far as we can down this path which we cannot avoid is even worse than useless: it may be dangerous. Let’s look closer.
Useless knowledge often enables us to be comfortable between our birth onto Earth and our death out of Earth. As its opposite, useful knowledge is the kind that enhances our chances for surviving in the world that death will birth us into! You see, according to the Kemetic paradigm, when you are born into this Earth world, you are at that same moment dying in another world. In the same way, the process that will be your death or exit from this Earth world will also be your birth or entry into into the world of the dead. What are some basic characteristics of this world that death here takes/births you into? What can we do in this world that will enhance our lives in the World of the Dead? What principles link these two worlds? Questions like these are ones that useful knowledge comes to answer. People searching for these answers are the ones who are drawn to M’TAM School of The Earth Center.
These students do not value this knowledge just because it is the oldest, but because it has the longest unbroken record of answering these questions and solving other practical problems related to human survival. These M’TAM students, these seekers, these investigators, these pilgrims – these initiates – understand that to survive this world and thrive in the next one, they need to know what is worth knowing and activities that are worthy of their participation, whether it be chopping wood, pursuing initiation or both. To put it another way, M’TAM initiates are looking for the kind of knowledge that they can carry across the border between the territory of the living (Earth) and the territory of the dead (Imentet). Knowledge that is portable has to be the ultimate knowledge.
However, even that kind of useful knowledge comes with the standard limitation: you have to be exposed to it, and you cannot get it any other way. This limitation is imposed by a principle taught in Kemetic initiation, namely, that humans do not have the ability to create/invent or otherwise bring into the existence things that do not already exist there. This means that if a thing is not already in the world of the living, a human cannot create or invent it. We have the habit of calling things inventions, but these things can all be unmasked and exposed as copies or imitations of other things that already existed and that we were exposed to. As with things in general, so it is with even useful knowledge. We certainly did not invent the knowledge we have of the World of the Dead (Imentet), and neither did our Ancestors.
And so, it was the Gods themselves who exposed our Ancestors to the World of the Gods, an event that happened on the Day of Tehuti. The exposure is recorded in the Kemetic Holy Drama and retells the first encounter between Gods and humans. On that day, the Gods exposed our Ancestors to their grandeur and magnanimity. Humans saw them and they asked humans to declare their agenda. Our Ancestors said they wanted their world to be like the World the Gods were showing them. The Gods said “Really? We are clean; you are not. We are powerful; you are not. We live forever; you do not. How do you expect to accomplish that?” Our Ancestors stood their ground saying that was what they wanted. So it was WSR, our Ancestral Deity, that took upon himself the task of persuading the Gods to assist Him in civilising humans who were, after all, his children. The assistance came in the form of the Book of Divine Ordinances which is also known as the Code of Human Conduct or the 77 Commandments. These Commandments are our initial how-to for bringing us step by step closer in quality to the World of the Gods.
However, this Divine Code is only one example of useful knowledge we got by being exposed to it. Other useful knowledge that came to us through exposure is the entire body of M’TAM education. One body of useful knowledge in M’TAM is Ka’at Ibi (meditation), which is a kind of thinking done by using the mind and heart in order to bring yourself closer to the World of the Gods. You can get Ka’at Ibi knowledge only by being exposed to it. The same goes for Sounnt (Kemetic healing knowledge) and Medu Myeet (the combined knowledge of the hieroglyphic language and of history and philosophy from a Kemetic perspective). Concepts like the goal of the life we experience on Earth, the elevation of dead relatives to Ancestors, our responsibilities to Ancestors and the benefits we derive from fulfilling those responsibilities can be experienced only by being exposed to the paradigm into which they fit. M’TAM also exposes us to the reality of bloodlines as well as the reality of energies that keep us alive (and they do not come from food). These concepts are part of the useful knowledge that M’TAM initiation exposes initiates to, concepts which are not taught by other schools today.
Another generation of students entered M’TAM initiation in Charleston, West Virginia, seeking knowledge that would be useful on their path towards the World of the Gods. The challenges this generation faced are well known for being uphill and untypically difficult. For example, all educations expect you to demonstrate at least to yourself that you understand the information taught to you. Now the university checks whether you can regurgitate it and get your certificates – in many subjects, your teachers do not even require that you remember what you regurgitate since these subjects are often irrelevant to the work that will earn you a living. The use of M’TAM knowledge raises the quality of its initiates, and that quality is an example of what these initiates can take with them across not only national or cultural borders, but even across the border between the living and the dead.
The initiate, Ibasta Sahqara, is the only surviving member of the 33rd generation of the M’TAM Schools of Kemetic Philosophy and Spirituality. She fought her way along the most difficult path that humans ever traverse. Like previous generations, her own faced enticing distractions (temptations) which at many times almost tore all of them away. We are talking about difficulties in their personal lives that defeated their best efforts. They sacrificed time, money and honest hard work only to fall short again and again. They trusted the very people whom it seemed sensible to trust, only to be betrayed by them. They fought to balance working for a living and working for their growth on the path of quality. This is a path first shunned and then ridiculed by the society surrounding us in the US. The path of initiation didn’t always make sense even to observers who wished this generation the best – though they were improving the quality of our common world by improving their own personal qualities. Coming through to graduation in spite of these difficulties is good enough reason for congratulations and celebration.
At every MTAM graduation, the graduating generation receives a shared last name. For the 33rd generation, this name is Sahqara, and it means the Great God RA puts in order. Each graduating initiate also receives a personal name. Only one member survived the challenges of the Sahqara generation, and her personal name has been identified as Ibasta which means the heart of Aishat. This graduate will henceforth be called Ibasta Sahqara. As we celebrate the graduation of the Sahqara generation, we wish Ibasta continuing growth in quality. We also wish her courage in sticking to useful tasks so that, like the man in the moon, she will not regret when it is her turn to move onward.