African Traditional Religion : Questions for ATR Practitioners

Discussion in 'African Traditional Religion Study Group' started by Omowale Jabali, Apr 5, 2014.

  1. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    What is the role of African traditional religious or spiritual systems in the liberation of Black/African people in the post slavery and colonial era?

    How can ATR systems serve our best interests and why are we subject to non-ATR systems which do not serve our best interests as a collective?

    Please excuse me for my ignorance , I am just an old man trying to learn from those of you much wiser and more intelligent than myself.
     
  2. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    If Black people are supposedly "superior" to white people based on "shades of melanin" why are we subject in the physical realm to inferior beings?

    I am especially interested in perspectives on this last question because when I look at current events and conditions of Black/African people in nations such as Haiti, Nigeria and the Congo, I see a lot of poverty, political corruption and overall chaos.
     
  3. jamesfrmphilly

    jamesfrmphilly going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    they stop us from thinking like christians?
     
  4. jamesfrmphilly

    jamesfrmphilly going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    kemetstry?
     
  5. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    My questions are in regards to practice not thought, so how "how do they serve our collective interests" in the context of Black/African liberation?

    Let's take for example the Twa in the Congo who are facing extinction.
     
  6. Blackbird

    Blackbird Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Nonc,

    I am by no means an authority regarding your questions on this subject so bare with me please. What I will provide is simply my opinion, nothing more or nothing less, and we all know what my opinion is worth - little next to nothing.

    My thoughts are that the ATRs first serve a symbolic context - meaning we are taking back what was taken from us in terms of our ancestors' religious and spiritual beliefs. As you know, I grew up primarily in Northwest Louisiana (Bossier and Caddo parishes). Shreveport is the major city in the region (Ark-La-Tex) and it has a very repressive and violent history as it relates to Black folks. It is a typical conservative Bible Belt city settled mainly by the ultra-conservative Scots-Irish. These people, the Scots-Irish, used all of their might to make Christianity the dominant belief among our people. Black folks in Shreveport are truly a traditional Christian Black population that even Martin Luther King Jr. was disgusted in their lack of support for Civil Rights. When other cities were developing small enclaves of ATR practitioners, there were virtually none. In the 2000, a Shreveport native moved back to Shreveport from New Orleans. She had been exposed to the ATRs while there. Aside for myself, she was the only other person I knew in the city that showed any interested. A couple of years later, she was initiated into the orisa. I was excited and told her how symbolic that was. Here in a city that was very repressive with a ruling white minority that fought tooth and nail to keep us in our place, a daughter had returned and soon brought with her "African gods". Since that moment, the sister has made a major impact in the cultural, health and community awareness of the city.

    Many of us who have entered into traditional African spiritual practices have done so at what we believe to be our ancestors' call. If you ask many ATR practitioners, the traditions were not their first choice of a spiritual path if they were ever a choice. Very few of us willing decided to practice these traditions; the majority of us, myself included, entered because we had no choice - we were experiencing usual and out of the ordinary hardships and troubles. I didn't wake up one day and say "I think I am going to practice Vodou." Vodou wasn't even an option in my book initially. The spirits were kicking my butt big time. Any and almost every thing misfortunate happened to me - homelessness, poverty, serious family issues, unemployment and mysterious health issues.

    I mention the above because I heard many stories from African Americans who practice and they all follow a similar theme. You can hear the realness in their voice to know that it was a reality for them before becoming practitioners. So the ancestors for what ever reason have picked this time to up the ante and began calling some of us back. This is not a bad thing because our focus becomes centered on our African ancestors - learning about them and the culture they lived back in Africa. Without being facetious, many practitioners have a deeper concept of what the ancestors are and have a more intimate relationship with them than most African Americans in general. They are not people we just talk about as examples or document in books - they are present in our everyday lives and we seek active communication with them.

    So in one way, the ATRs helped to facilitate a re-Afrikanization of the Black mind as we immerse ourselves deeper into the worldview and culture of our ancestors. Most of us call the ATRs the traditions (the Yoruba word "Isese") because they are not just religions. They provide us with a way of life, a lifestyle.

    My own children speak to the ancestors as a normal thing, know the names of spirits and what parts of Africa they come from, developing themselves spiritually to receive and give messages, and see the world from a more African colored lens that promote family, the Black community, African history and service to others. My children are firm in the Africanity of their being and station in life. They are knowledgeable of the histories of old Daxome, Oyo, Ndongo, ancient Ghana, old Mali, Kmt, Kush, various African cultures, slavery and the Black experience in America for their age and learning level. They also have age appropriate knowledge of the philosophy, cosmology and spiritual world. They about Christianity and how our people became Christians but Christianity is not a focus in my household. We exist outside of the Christian world and reality.

    Presently, there are some things being developed to give the traditions a more nationalistic and nation-building element that meets the specific needs of us in America using the spiritual knowledge and technology these traditions provide us with. I am positive you will be hearing more of these developments in the near future and I am sure many will be shocked by these things. Remember the traditions are not static, but dynamic - they are constantly evolving and innovation to adequately address the current and most pressing needs of the people is a central theme. The traditions are also providing some of us with the ways, means and resources to do more than we have previously been able to do. For those of us with a more liberation mindset, we have been imbued with a greater sense of empowerment, sense of purpose and spirit of "can-do-itness ." When I say that I refuse to be a victim any longer, that statement arises from the sense of power and strength that the ancestors and spirits have given me through the traditions. I am not going to say that these traditions are the best thing since sliced bread because they are not without fault and are hard paths to follow - requiring a lot of discipline, commitment and hard work. Yet, the feeling of direction in one's life and the reconnection to one's heritage is liberating in of itself.

    So to sum everything up, my answer to your first question of "What is the role of African traditional religious or spiritual systems in the liberation of Black/African people in the post slavery and colonial era?" would be:

    1. They serve as symbolic point of Sankofa and the determination of our people to leave those things given to us since our sojourn in America.
    2. They make us place a greater and more meaningful affirming focus on our individual and collective ancestors.
    3. They are way more than religious or spiritual beliefs but serve as a way of life and as a way of viewing and interacting with our surrounding from a more African based standpoint.
    4. They serve as the transmitters of self affirming and sustaining culture.
    5. They serve as a guiding path to the education of our children with a culture, history and family focus while promoting positive values of a successful family, community and nation.
    6. They serve as sources of strength and empowerment to combat a pessimistic or self-defeating attitude and perspective.

    I think some of the above may also partly answer your 2nd question of "How can ATR systems serve our best interests and why are we subject to non-ATR systems which do not serve our best interests as a collective?"

    I will attempt to address your 2nd question in another post.
     
  7. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thank you. Perhaps my questions were too open-ended and not specific enough. I have no problem with what you have stated. Perhaps one day I will find the same utility that you have, as a practitioner.

    I am more concerned with how these systems are presently benefitting Africans, at home, the roots of each system.

    I know well the history that systems such as Palo, for one example, came to the New World by Africans who resisted the slave trade and the virtual forced conversions to Catholicism by our ancestors in Kongo and Ngola, etc.

    However, what I am trying to get to is WHY our Ancestors were defeated IN THE SPIRIT REALM by the demonic forces which succeeded in enslaving us and largely destroying our traditions.


    And, as recently discussed, what is left of these traditions have been infiltrated by the same demons which killed off our core lineages.

    In other words , it Black people claim "spiritual" or "genetic" superiority, why do so many of us remain in "inferior" conditions, bordering on genetic annihilation and extinction?
     
  8. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/ethnic/african.htm

    One more thing:

    I am taking into consideration the POSSIBILITY of "pre-Columbian" migrations and settlements of African cultural groups, which means the existence of ATRs among so-called indigenous groups prior to slavery and colonialism.

    Any thoughts on this?
     
  9. Shems Nbedjer

    Shems Nbedjer Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Blackbird, I know there was a reason why I always enjoyed reading your posts at Destee. For one you are very insightful brother, second we might be long lost relatives. I just read you are from the area of my paternal ancestors in Louisiana. My current family have lost all contact with all my family from the Caddo/Bossier/Shreveport area since the 50s. I'm in charge of my family tree and I having been trying for 15 years to find long lost relatives from the area, to no avail. If possible I hope you and I can connect offline and compare family names to establish a connection if there is one.

    I do consider this post spiritual and an extension of ATR. I know we are connected to the spirit and I'm trying to reestablish the connection. I hope the our ancestors are working to connect us to see what the future might bring.

    Nbedjer
     
  10. Shems Nbedjer

    Shems Nbedjer Well-Known Member MEMBER

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