Disclaimer: I know I have wrote on Destee in a much similar theme, but I am feeling moved to continue this discussion. This is not an attempt to spread propaganda or proselytize. This is a truthfully honest message I am feeling compelled to convey. I do so with love and respect for all. Please bare with me as I am still trying to structure the thoughts given to me. Knowledge of Self! How many times have we heard this phrase? Many of us have heard it on the lips of NOI members, Afrikan nationalists and Black consciousness folks. For those of us who have come up in the ranks of Black studies groups, grassroots organizations and/or flipping through copious pages of the esteemed works of Dr. Ben, Dr. Clarke, Diop, Chancellor Williams or Inshakamusa Barashango, among others, knowledge of self is something we have strived for and at times believe we have come close to achieving. It's no secret that I am an Afrikan traditionalist as it relates to spiritual systems and for me, even after my years of being in study groups, organizations and owning an extensive Black consciousness library, I have yet to touch the tip of knowledge of self. My redemption so far has come through the daily and communal practice of African Traditional Religions (ATRs) and deepening my understanding of these traditions. I honestly believe that until our people return back to the traditional practices of our individual families we will never truly know or have knowledge of self. Knowledge of Self is deeper than knowing we are Black people and reciting the wonderful and exciting contributions, kingdoms and miracles we as Black people have gave to the world. Knowledge of Self is much deeper than saying and believing we were the original people and that we held colonies throughout the earth. When you really look at these things, it is actually superficial and a gross overview or generalization of who you are, who I am, as a person within our own bodies. As stated before, African people are not monolithic and as the descendants of African people enslaved in the Americas, we are not monolithic. The best teachers in this lesson for me have been my ancestors. Many other Black folks returning back to the ATRs are learning this fact as well. One brother just recently compiled a documentary highlighting his journey back to his African roots. Like many diasporic Black folks in the ATRs, his introduction to traditional African spiritual systems was through the Yoruba based orisa system. However, he learned that his origin was not among the Yoruba but among the Gbe speakers of Benin and Togo and in fact, even though he had planned to initiate in the Yoruba system in Nigeria, his ancestors were blocking his path. Why? Because it was the Yoruba who had his people enslaved in the first place. I myself encountered a similar thread. I was preparing for my initiation into Ma Yombe. My Tata consulted the nkisi to seek approval or acceptance for me. Nkisi returned back that my ancestors will not allow it. Tata said he could initiate me but it would only make matters worse for me and he refused to do so. He told me that my "ruling" or "guiding" ancestors didn't practice this. I knew I was of Central African ancestry but as it came out, I was not Bakongo. My ancestors were Bateke. They lived near the Bakongo and at one time were allies of the northern Bakongo kingdom of Loango; however, in time, they became bitter enemies and my ancestors were introduced to slavery via the Bakongo. For me to initiate further into Ma Yombe would be a slap in the face of my Bateke ancestors. Also, like the brother, my ancestors were not Yoruba. My ancestors were the Vodu. I have Fongbe and Ewe ancestry. Yoruba were the enemies of my ancestors. I was born into Vodun. The Vodu claimed me before my birth. My ruling ancestors and clan are Fon and my ancestral spiritual system is Vodun. Knowledge of Self in the truest sense extends far greater than the superficial and our forced generic application of the Black race. Knowledge of Self speaks to one's ruling ancestral ethnic and cultural origins. It goes back to one's own family. The concept of blood and genetic lineage in many traditional African systems are more than merely physiological, more than red blood cells, hemoglobin, plasma, or genotype (haplotype, MtDna and Y Chromosome). The blood carries the ase of generations of family, the history, the strengths, the covenants, the taboos, spiritual inheritance, the honorary relationships of relations - one's true story. One's Knowledge of Self. This is a Self-Knowledge that no book, charismatic speaker or generic application can provide. It can only be conveyed by remembering who you were and are with the guidance of the ones who live in you and are you - your ancestors. Thus if you do not know or even care to know you your direct blood ancestors were you can never have even a glimpse of Knowledge of Self.