By Minister Mxolisi Ozo-Sowande / (aka Bro. Mxolisi T. Sowell)
As we journey through the month of March, and over 300 organizations around the nation (USA) observe/celebrate Black Marriage Day, some words from Dr. Llaila Afrika (in African Holistic Health, pg. 351) resonate within my soul:
“The female/male relationship is microcosmic of the culture . . . (it) transmits and translates culture . . . (it) is the smallest functional unit of the culture . . . The Black wholistic female/male relationship is for the upliftment of the culture,” with a major function of this relationship being the rearing of children who have what it takes to “advance the culture.”
Dr. Afrika goes on to assert that the positive result of such a dynamic is that “the culture (i.e., village) serves the relationship and the relationship serves the culture. It takes a village to have a marriage . . . it takes African-centeredness to have a holistic African cultural marriage.”
Another voice vibrating within is that of Dr. Molefi Asante (cited in the book, Friends, Lovers and Soul Mates by Drs. Derek and Darlene Hopson, pg. 49): his belief that to be whole, Black people must place African values, culture, and history at the center of their very beings. Asante says, “We have a formidable history, replete with the voice of God, the ancestors, and the prophets. Our manner of dress, behavior, walk, talk, and values are intact and workable when we are Afrocentric.”
Adding to the strength and convictions of those voices is the voice of Dr. Marimba Ani, speaking before the 2011 annual convention of the Association of Black Psychologists, where the following was among her comments: “Culture is the immune system of a race . . . the armor that protects a people against genocide . . . African culture is the unique expression of the African soul. It cultivates, nurtures and cares for the African soul as nothing else can. It makes us part of the global African family. It imparts to us the power of our ancestors. It has got to be the foundation of any educational system that we have . . . We need to rebuild our cultural system!”
If we follow the wisdom and admonition coming to us from ancient Kemet – and other traditions as well, calling on us to open the books that contain the enduring words and practices of our Ancestors, to read and heed the preserved ingredients of our cultural system(s), we would likely understand and agree with Dr. Afrika’s profound expressions: “In an African centered relationship, each person was viewed as a sacred presence of God . . . An individual served God by serving their mate . . . Relationships between Black women and men founded on correctness, justice, harmony, balance, reciprocity, truth, propriety and order (Maat) are African centered . . . (are unions) of God . . . the balance of the spirit, mind and body . . . (are) given to African peoples as another way to serve God.”
We do, indeed, need to rebuild, restore, and renew ourselves according to that cultural system!
The Five Major Initiation Rites of our traditional African way of life provide an excellent foundation for the beginning of this restoration process. These are rites that evolved as our ancestors responded to their collective perceptions of Creator, Ancestors and Prophets speaking to their hearts and souls. They include the rites of Birth, Adulthood, Marriage, Eldership, and Ancestor-ship.
(See Prof. Manu Ampim’s essay on these rites at this link:http://www.manuampim.com/AfricanInitiationRites )
These rites, which continue to be nearly universal in one form or another throughout traditional African life, provide foundation for a way of life that includes this pertinent point of view: That a person is not truly an adult until they have married and had children!
Additionally, this way of life holds that a new life (an infant) is not a complete being until she or he has been thoroughly initiated into the values and principles of the family-community-nation; and that the family-community-nation has an abiding responsibility to provide the necessary environment, training and inspiration to assist each individual in discovering and fulfilling their life mission and unique contribution.
(View my reflections on these Initiation Rites at this link:http://hcvoice.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/reflections-on-the-initiation-rites-of-our-african-way-of-life/)
In simple terms, our African cultural way of life places high priority on preparing and developing men and women who know one another to be a sacred presence of God, who hold marriage in high esteem (who are, indeed, ready for their Black/African Marriage Day), and are eager — along with Ancestors, Elders and others, and every institution of the culture — to fulfill their roles to carry forward and “advance the culture” in and through succeeding generations. Our African cultural way of life absolutely needs Adults of this spirit and character as marriage partners and parents, and in other roles that might be required for the perpetuation of that sacred, inspirational, family-community-nation environment.
The overriding priority of that sacred environment is to inform and inspire each individual relative to his or her potential to manifest Godliness (Maat) not only in marriage but in every circumstance of life. No doubt, something easier said than done.
In ancient Kemet, Maat was understood as the intelligent, creative energy-spirit-power emerging from what can be viewed as a radical, transformative development at the core of the Creator’s being, giving rise to all existence and to the obligation for humans to be diligent in pro-active moral behavior in all things. In The Husia, our ancestors’ perceptions of the Creator’s thoughts/words in that radical, creation moment are expressed thusly: “I formed it from the desire in my heart; I laid the foundation through Maat.” Other translations reflect The Most High saying S/He worked “magic” on Her/His own heart in order to facilitate the birth of Maat and the emergence of creation. Thus, it was understood that the Godly pro-active morality that the humankind is to pursue and practice requires a radical, transformative development at the core of our individual and collective existence, giving birth to an undying desire in our hearts for Maat to be the distinguishing character and driving force in all that we do.
As above, so below. As with Ancestors throughout the spectrum of our traditional African way of life, let it be with you and me.
Marimba Ani has argued that our African culture is “amazingly resilient,” continuing to survive in spite of the most culturally destructive force (u.s./western culture) in history. Perhaps that explains why there are as many successful Black marriages as there are, given the severely anti-African forces – social, educational, economic, political, as well as individualistic concepts of manhood, womanhood, marriage and family – that work against our well-being at all times. She goes on to assert that our solutions will come not only from denying the “European world-view” as a basis for human organization but that there must be a spiritual component in our organizing efforts and in any view of the future that is projected as our goal.
“Our Africanness has existed within us primarily on an unconscious level,” Dr. Ani posits. “But the forces of evil are strong. European colonialism is powerful and the unconscious survival of the African heritage is not enough to subdue it. This survival must be moved to the level of conscious awareness, so that it can be used for political analysis, motivation and commitment. . . . The African world-view revitalized, can again be a life-giving force. It promises ‘eternal life’ to its descendants.” (Let the Circle be Unbroken: Implications of African Spirituality in the Diaspora, pgs. 50-53)
There are numerous resources to inform and inspire us for the revitalization of our African cultural way, for marriage and all circumstances of life, including:
• Selections from The Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt, compiled by Dr. Maulana Karenga – (containing a significant number of admonitions and insights relative to marriage and family, as well as a host of Teachings for character development in general, including The Declarations of Innocence/Negative Confessions)
• Friends, Lovers and Soul Mates: A Guide to Better Relationships Between Black Men and Women, by Derek S. Hopson, Ph. D., and Darlene Powell Hopson, Ph.D. – (featuring a vast spectrum of issues to be considered and discussed in the process of “self-knowledge” and fruitful relationships)
• The Ten Virtues of the Egyptian Mystery System – (Control of your thoughts * Control of your actions * Devotion to purpose * Faith in the ability of The Master to teach you the truth * Faith in your ability to assimilate the truth * Faith in your ability to wield the truth * Freedom from resentment under the experience of persecution * Freedom from resentment under the experience of wrong * Cultivate the ability to distinguish between right and wrong [that which is loved from that which is hated] * Cultivate the ability to distinguish between the real and the unreal [have a sacred sense of values])
• Kwanzaa & the Nguzo Saba: Something Sacred for & from the Souls of Black Folks, by Minister Mxolisi Ozo-Sowande – (for a deeper-than-superficial presentation of the Principles, Symbols and Precepts of this tradition and their potential for serving as a blueprint for the restoration of the souls of Black folks)
Let it be that we open these and other books, with our hearts and souls wide open, to allow a plentiful harvest of radical, transformative moments to occur in great abundance throughout the Global African Family. Let Black Marriage Day, the sacred African way, be the exhilarating, unending norm once again, forevermore!
Ankh, Udja, Seneb!!!