Black People : African Initiation Rites & Their Role in Restoring the African American Family

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by panafrica, Sep 8, 2005.

  1. panafrica

    panafrica Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    It truly breaks my heart to see the current status of the black family in the US, as well as the indifference from some, and acceptance from others about the current state of the black family in this country. Family is the most important aspect of African society. It is an expectation that both a mother and father will be present in every family. It is an expectation that all children will be born within a marriage. This is our true culture, and original values. These are not white values, which some people mistakenly (even foolishly) belive....these are African Values!

    Initiation Rites were part of our education, just as important as learning the ABCs. In fact they were more important, because they helped shape our character. In the decades that followed we were able to at least maintain some aspects of our cultures and values. However with each passing generation, it is obvious that the further we are removed from our roots, the more chaotic our families become. We have to restore our traditional values, there is no other option! I think that restoring the Initiation Rites is the best option to do so. Although I am not sure that every parent(s) is ready for these rites.

    There are too many in our community afraid of critic to enroll in such school. That is evident in some of the comments present within our many threads on this subject. The African Initiation Rites is the final solution in healing the black family in America. However, the first step in healing the black family in America is for both men and women to admit there is a problem. Not only do both men & women need to admit there is a problem, both need to desire a change, and a better way for their children. Unfortunately we have not reached this point yet; however, I must say that with estimated of 65-70% of our children being born to a single mother; I don't know how much further we can afford to slide before we reach this point.

    An African Initiation Rite will most certainly tell children different methods of conducting themselves sexually & emotionally than their parents. They will be taught that what their parent's way is not the right way. Obviously they will need to be taught these lessons without interference from the parents. These young people don't need to hear their mothers countering lessons by insisting the reason they are single is because their boyfriend/lover was a lying dog who tricked them into getting pregnant, then left as soon as he found out. Similarly these young people don't need to hear their fathers countering lessons by insisting the reason they couldn't be around is because their mother was a crazy controlling "B" who was impossible to be with. No these schools will teach young people in our community about how to properly select a member of the opposite sex, and how to be a responsible & productive member of society. Parents in the African American community need to be ready to let their children learn these lessons, and not be sensitive if it criticizes their life or lifestyle.

    One of the more fascinating things I've learned about Initiation Rites is that some even deal with achieving sexual satisfaction with the opposite sex without actually having sexual intercourse (thus saving oneself for marriage, and preventing children out of wedlock). Jomo Kenyatta addressed this in his book, "Facing Mt. Kenya". They are truly a different way of thinking, and are sorely needed in our community.
     
  2. river

    river Watch Her Flow MEMBER

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    Hi Pan,

    This thread will kick off with ideas in time. It seems so massive but we can break it down here into workable steps. When something needs to be done the question to ask is not how but what. Break that big imposing question of how into little bite sized whats.

    Of course here in America an initiation rite is not going to look exactly like it did in Afica. Whatever we do here has to take into account the social, economic and political environment in which we operate. Here are a few things to consider.

    1. In America the relationship between generations is often an advirsarial one. Although an initiation rite is supposed to be for the children if we just focus on the children here we risk increasing the resistance of the parents. To be successful we need programs that include parents and childen.

    All is not lost for we have here a unique situation where all generations have basically the same needs. The children today come from second, third and often fourth generation welfare, single mom families.. So both parents and kids can be targeted. In fact, part of the parents final initiation activities can be helping the kids in their initiation rites.

    This way instead of telling the parents "We want to take your kids and teach them things you don't know, you bad parents you," it can be a whole village experience.

    2. The lips of wisdom are closed except to the ears of understanding

    I will stop here and let others contribute.
     
  3. Deepvoice

    Deepvoice Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    If it helps, why not?
     
  4. panafrica

    panafrica Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    The most challenging aspect of starting African Initiation Rites is finding an elder to organize/guide people in them. Unfortunately many African ethnic groups have stopped performing them. In addition Initiation Rites were unique in different countries. For our purposes, I'd like to take ideas from several African Initiation Rites and adapt them for our (African American) purposes.

    I like several aspects of the Kikuyu (Gikuyu) initation rites: They organized young men & women according to age, and placed them within groups. The Kikuyu had rituals for dating, which involved the entire group, instead of two people individually. The purpose of this was to acknowledge and include all members of a group (society) no matter how attractive or unattractive.

    The ritual itself would essentially consist of a feast. However, the individual who was the subject of the ritual would eventually be identified. Kikuyu boys were from children to have sexual self control. Although their sexuality & sexual desires were acknowledged during the initiation rite. Young men and women would engaged in a sex play, without actually having intercourse (women were expected to be virgins when they married). Within the society any pregnancy before marriage resulting in punishment for both the young man & woman. This punishment was usually both fines & being made social outcast. This stigma came not only from society in general, but their social group in particular.
     
  5. Deepvoice

    Deepvoice Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Now that definitely sounds good to me! People don't listen to elders though Pan, so even if the elders could gather and agree upon something there still would be a huge problem.
     
  6. Wisdom7

    Wisdom7 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I think the Initiation Rights is a good idea. I do agree that parents should be apart of this as well. In viewing society as it is, the first challenge would seem to be even trying to get our people to see the value. Realisitcally a lot of our people just hear anything about Africa and aren't interested. Sad, but true. I think the elder that needs to introduce this into the communites would be the pastor/preachers of the church. They have the loudest voice and largest amount of listeners and the forum to get this accomplished, but first these church officials must be educated on this system themselves.
     
  7. panafrica

    panafrica Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I do not think of preachers as the leaders of these schools. Preachers do have the loudest voice, and largest amount of listeners. However they have universally failed to address this (out of wedlock children) issue! Many have criticized black preachers for purposefully ignoring this issue out of fear of alienating their largest membership, single mothers. As I stated originally these schools do not need the participation of sensitive parents. Nor does it need a leader who is afraid of teaching necessary lessons in order to spare people's feelings. In addition, many of the subjects addressed at these Initiation Rites address sexual satisfaction, which many preachers avoid.

    That is how we got into our current predicament. A people who loses their original culture can not help but be lost in all aspects of life. As soon as we stop running from ourselves & trying to adopt values which aren't ours...then we will begin healing as a community!
     
  8. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    A 3rd consideration would be Religion.

    How do you convince a parent that the spiritual education as taught to the boy or girl is, not designed to drive a wedge between the christian or muslim beliefs of the parents.
     
  9. panafrica

    panafrica Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    As I told Wisdom7 this is also part of the problem. It is in America that the relationship between generations is adversarial. In Africa their is reverance for older generations, as it should be. Again the further we get away from our true culture, the more lost we become...as evident by the current status of our family & communities.

    As far as parential involvement in concerned. As a parent myself, I am usually a proponent for parental involvement in all education. However, I hesitate in this case, because the lessons would often teach children the opposite of what there parents did. Maybe I should assume that any parent progressive enough to take their child/children to such a school would be prepared for the lessons taught? In all honesty, this is something I have to think further about.........
     
  10. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Not only are some of our people not interested, they're repulsed and frightened at the thought of the word, Ritual.
     
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