(2014 Update: The original video commentary offline, so have no substituted something on the Door of No Return.)
I find myself agreeing with her on much.
While I have an historical interest in Egypt, and of course authentic human anthropology, I have often wondered why it easier for African descendents in the ‘New World’ in seeking to identify with their lost identities, choose to model their spiritual lives against lineages not related to them except by ideologies in the farthest reaches of antiquity.
The enslaved Africans who helped to people this part of the world WERE from West Africa. So why are Rastafarians modeling their spiritual beliefs against Judaic religion, or why do my Khemetic leaning brothers and sisters choose a system that hasn’t even been fully or correctly translated, and whose rituals are thousands of years out of practise, when the living traditions of our WEST AFRICAN ancestors exists still in largely unbroken lines down to us today?
The sisters commentary is interesting, and touches quite a few points I’ve raised myself. I often wonder if the state of our communities is directly related to an inability on the whole of us to connect with this West African heritage. Without it, we’re still not a cohesive unit, still labouring under false pretenses and mental slavery.
In a facebook discussion, a young man who I have discoursed with for years, and who incidentally I share very little intellectual or ideological common ground with, asserted that the sister in the video had nerve to imply disrespect because of other people’s priorities and choices.
I replied, ” I actually understand many of the forces that shape these ‘choices’, which are often ‘no real choice’, not always, just often, and I put them in what I see is the appropriate context. Also, ‘depends on the question’? What is her question here? It’s the same one I frankly ask on a regular basis… I put it to Rastafarian brothers and sisters, to Khemetic brothers and sisters, to Christian brothers and sisters and Muslim brothers and sisters… and I find the answers (often ‘non answers’, not always, but often) very grounded in a particular world view and mind set. ”
I also want to ask a couple more questions, and I included it there too. When you look out across the Atlantic, what do you see? Just the Sea?
I see a turbulent ocean true, but I can never look at the Sea and not see Yemoja and Olokun. I see that too…
When I look out across the Sea, I can never forget that across this water, the next land mass is where my Ancestors came from.
When I look out across the Sea, I can never forget the millions of Africans lost to it’s depths, and when I see that choppiness of the water, I hear them call out to me… to something inside me asking me to remember them and honour them.
So for me, I can never look past my spiritual roots, beyond it to something else. I am not denying the African origins of Egypt, Christianity, Judaism or Islam. I accept these this as part of my historical understanding, even if many others cannot see it, or reject it.
My only point of divergence, is I would say, her comments on the origins of humanity in north-eastern Africa. I am fairly convinced of that. Even the Yoruba believe they walked out of Khemet, across the desert and into Sub-Saharan Africa thousands and thousands of years ago, with an intact religious system handed down largely unchanged until (colonialism) recent times.
My question I put to many across the Diaspora–and I mean those who are seeking, those who have invested themselves in homegrown spiritual solutions, Rastafarism and Khemetic philosophy in particular–why they feel the need to create something from strands of something else, when such a powerful tool as their own Ancestral practise and their spiritual inheritance is there for them to use.
(2014 Update: Video commentary offline)
Very interesting post and video. I think that it’s not necessarily wrong to identify with ancient Egpyt. It was African people who created the civilization and documented it. Europeans have tried hard to somehow remove Egypt from the African continent and wipe out the evidence of African ancestry but they have not been successful. When the Tut exhibit toured Chicago, I reviewed it and questioned the curator on the fact that all the artifacts revealed clear African features but the “modern Egyptian” rendering did not. He admitted that modern Egyptians are not the same as ancient Egyptians. Arabs took over Egypt centuries ago and try to lay claim to the civilization but they had nothing to do with it. For that reason, I feel it’s important to identify with ancient Egypt. It is ours if we want it to be. As for our direct West African roots,she is right, a lot of African Americans are uncomfortable with it. Yoruba, Mali, civilizations are just as sophisticated and documented but they have not be held up historically as such. We are still fighting to have the truth revealed and many don’t know this history. They don’t know that the media images of Africa are not accurate and many do not want to associate with any aspect of African culture because of it. You can even find this feeling in Africa. It’s astounding how deep the brain-washing has gone. But it’s up to us to reclaim ourselves and our history.
Hi FlyGirl… yes, I am not saying that we shouldn’t claim Egypt ideologically. I want to be clear on that. It is part of human history, and it’s been white washed out of convenience to a system of greed and cultural imperialism. On that we can agree.
We can also agree that the West African civilisations that have been glossed over and largely ignored. Yet I assert that these very civilisations and spiritual systems that are the LEAST visible for us in the West actually have MORE relevance for us here and now, today, this very minute.
Yet, my feeling is that in looking to the Motherland for answers, our brothers and sisters are STILL falling prey to ripping away of their identities by RENDERING WEST AFRICA’S RICH SPIRITUAL legacy which is STILL THEIRS, largely INVISIBLE!
It is right there in front of them, and their Ancestors are fairly crying out for them to SEE, to pick up these TOOLS, and to HEAL OUR COMMUNITY. This is their MOST DIRECT lineage, hence the MOST POWERFUL system of re-integrating that damaged lost part of our communal psyches, because it is our slave Ancestors, our Ancestors left behind that practised it, lived by it, and kept it for us down through the centuries, and THEY want us to get it back because they know it’s the only way for us… BUT, HOLLYWOOD, and HISTORY BOOKS IN SCHOOL, are STILL BLINDING us! Hence we thrash and twist, turn and tumble, fall and continue to be the victims of and the success stories of our oppressors.
Well put, FlyGirl– agreed on all counts.
I personally feel that the reason lies significantly in the fact that ancient Egyptian culture is well-known, validated, and admired in mainstream culture. As such, it is empowering for some to be able to say:
“That culture, the one that you venerate? It’s OURS. It is an African culture. Black people built it. OURS.”
I am not African-American, and Egypt is not a cornerstone of my identification, but I feel that it is destructive for us to challenge that claiming.
Adrian, I don’t think she’s saying.. “I don’t own Egypt as an African civilisation’, her questions is, why is it easier to connect with these religious and ideological systems, than to the West African traditions.
She expressed her own views about things, certainly, but her underlying question is valid in my opinion and bears discussion.