Community Culture Clinic

Since When African Ancestry Is Witchcraft?!

Culture Clinic is a blog written by Dr. John

I refer to the letter to the editor in the Weekend Nation Friday 14, 2022 entitled “Be Wary of Ancestral Readings”. I found it odd that the letter appeared hours after the event held at Queens Park Theatre Thursday October 13, 2022. Did the writer even attend this meeting? This letter is reprehensible, and an insult to sound doctrine. Some of our traditions predate and inform the rituals that are prevalent in the various organized Christian religions extolled today. In addition, several Afrocentric and indigenous spiritual practitioners from the Caribbean do not display the level of prejudice presented here. In 2022, this kind of attack guised as “freedom of speech”, especially from
respected faith-based leaders, needs to stop. Whether or not the writer attended the meeting, this letter’s agenda as a calculated and deliberate assault on us who seek to embrace and integrate who we are as black people is obvious. What is more astonishing is that this letter got printed.

Watch the conversation on Chief Oluwo Obafemi Fayemi Instagram page here!

This letter and the behaviour of factions outside the theatre Thursday night are recent examples of the internal conflict some of us black people in these organizations experience because of the underlying colonial agenda that persists unquestioned in Barbados. Such recolonizing perspectives embrace a conditioning that tells us to ignore the tools the Creator gave all of us to heal ourselves. Such proselytizing promotes misinformed notions that the preferred relationship to the Creator and spirituality as that of perpetual inexperience, devices developed during enslavement and that is still unwarily employed to suppress and separate us from our innate gifts and narratives.

To be clear, this letter decries various ancestral readings and other activities that all have holistic biblical references.  Instructions to reject our own ancestral and spiritual heritage are imparted without reason with bible verses being interjected without context. Words like “abomination”, “demonic”, “obeah”, “sorcery”, “witchcraft” are being used to injure, to stir up division and hostility. Such language continues to reinforce and reflect rhetoric that separates us from our African heritage, identity, memories, and practices, that we cannot be black and Christian (or spiritual for that matter), that we must accept these post-emancipation trans-Anglo-Saxon options handed down to us as our reparation. Perhaps, these intentions reveal the confusions, delusions, the internal conflicts that many of us wrestle with that are caused by post-traumatic enslaved syndrome among other dynamics. 

Maybe, we are witness to the destabilizing of systems that used to suppress of our holistic heritages, identities, memories, and practices. Maybe, cracks in the rigid religious conditioning that has disconnected us from reclaiming our innate tools of healing continue to widen. Maybe the actions of the Christians Thursday night and the letter are evidence of a shift, an unravelling that can no longer be controlled. Still, to be clear, such letters and actions go against the evolution of our society as one that accepting of difference without prejudice. We ought to be respectful of the right of freedom of religion. In 2022, this kind of attack needs to stop. 

Culture Clinic is a weekly column crafted by Dr. John Hunte, Rev. King Shepherd of Israel. It identifies the impact of Culture and Creativity in the Caribbean. Photography by Adrian Richards.

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