The July 2017 edition of The AllEyesOnDC Show, centered on African spiritual systems and featuring Nana Kwabena Brown of the Temple of Nyame, attracted more than 40 people, the highest number of guests we’ve had at Sankofa Video Books & Cafe for an AllEyesOnDC event since the beginning of the year. It also altered my position on Our practice of Abrahamic religions in the West, just a little bit.
That Friday evening, Nana Kwabena charted the chronological development of African spiritual systems, including those practiced by the Akan and Yoruba people, through the migration of ancient Africans escaping Islamic persecution. He also showed me, as well as the audience, how Old World belief systems manifested into habits and traditions that have persisted through Maafa and other atrocities. In this powerful interview, Nana Kwabena outlined how ancient spiritual systems determined who held the power in local African communities. Oftentimes, it were the elders with a lifetime of experience who We respected.
CAPTION: Part I of Nana Kwabena Brown’s interview with AllEyesOnDC on Friday, July 21st at Sankofa Video Books & Cafe
CAPTION: Part II of Nana Kwabena Brown’s interview with AllEyesOnDC on Friday, July 21st at Sankofa Video Books & Cafe
I wrapped up my interview with Nana Kwabena more appreciative of my Christian upbringing in a Liberian church and understanding of how African spiritual systems, the practice of many that continues today, set the foundation for the Abrahamic religions, also developed by ancient African people. Like other groups, my Liberian ancestors found ways to mix their spiritual systems with Christianity as a survival tactic. Although they hold up the holy cross, my people, as have others around the diaspora, maintain some remnants of their culture.
However, there’s work to be done if we are to build a strong nation that doesn’t fall prey to the ways of the Western World.
The paradigm shift that continues to threaten Our normal, peaceful way of life came long before I appeared in this body, when Europeans replaced the elements of nature We revered with caricatures of their own. These days, as other races and cultures worship spiritual beings that reflect their ancient ways and mirror their image, We’re blindly following the traditions of a people who took our ways of life and manipulated it for their enjoyment. It’s time to let go of these systems and embrace Our spirituality. At the same time, failure to understand the nuances in Our spiritual differences, even those among Us who observe Abrahamic religions, threatens any opportunity for Us as African people to come together.
At this juncture in Our liberation struggle where we’re reclaiming Our identity, celebrity worship, sexual abuse, and disrespect of elders have reached an all-time high. Celebrity and vanity often trump experience and wisdom. Babylon’s infiltration of Our families have made it so that We leave Our children’s development to the streets, television and school system. However, it wasn’t always like that. Like the Rasta livity, Our African spiritual systems allowed Us to coexist peacefully with the world and maintain balance through all aspects of Our lives.
No, we’re not born in sin. We’re Godlike beings going through a lot of Hell in the Earthly realm, all in an effort to find Ourselves and become the reflection of God created in Our mother’s womb. As a young man raised up in the Pentecostal Church, a West African one at that, it baffles me that I developed this attitude that favors looking beyond Christianity for my salvation. But it was a long time coming.
Upon learning that, and coming to terms with the fact that other spiritual systems existed before Christianity, I grew ready to dump the religion altogether in 2014, although making that leap, publicly at least, would take another year or two. A series of vitriolic attacks against Christianity and Christian organizations, to the chagrin of those who’ve known me for some time, followed. Even after my 2015 trip to Ethiopia and acquisition of knowledge about Christianity’s African origins encouraged me to embrace the Rasta livity, I still spoke out against those who erected Christmas trees during the holidays or didn’t understand the Kemetic origins of Christ’s birth and resurrection.
More of my verbal attacks recently have focused on modern-day Christian institutions I felt didn’t do the Earthly work in the same vein as the man known as Yeshua for whom this religion received its name. In one Facebook post, I said that idol worship has caused Us to wait for a Messiah to do the work that the Universe mandated We do to keep Our ecosystem running efficiently.
After the July 21st AllEyesOnDC show, I still stand by those words, looking to the ancestors, elders, sisters, and brothers who have found a way to use Christianity to fight for liberation and self-determination in their corner of the world. Those freedom fighters, including Marcus Garvey, a man I often mention on this medium, understood that the men and women in the Bible lived on the African continent, not in a fictionalized Middle East fabricated by Europeans. He, and other freedom fighters, saw themselves in those Biblical figures and events, taking their freedom into their own hands and neutralizing the Roman Catholic Church’s global manipulation of nonwhite humans.
It’s my belief, at this moment at least, that Black Christian churches around the world should, and could take on a similar mantra for service and redemption of all human beings once they start to acknowledge Christianity’s African beginnings and the presence of Africans in the Holy Bible. Those of Us who left the church, but still love our church family, can be the agents of change in this regard, slowly but surely educating Our elders and peers about that connection.
Now, more than ever, I’m ready to separate European manipulation of ancient African spiritual systems from the Africans who unknowingly work within those systems and adopt dogma destructive to Our wholistic development. At time same time, I’m passionate more than ever to study the various spiritual systems practiced on the African continent. It’s my hope that taking on this mindset will make me more patient in engaging my People when discussing Abrahamic religions in the context of Our experiences in the West. For sure, it somewhat healed a part of me
So no, I’m still not a Christian.
At the same time, I’m not going to stop attending the church I frequented as a youngster, even if it’s once every two months. For the first time in a long time, I’m going to deviate from Malcolm X’s message a bit and not keep my spirituality in the closet. Why would I do that when respectfully speaking to Black people of other backgrounds outside of their place of worship could help Us see the lineage in Our spiritual systems and unite as One?
After all, that’s the the real work in ensuring We unite as a people.