Acknowledging grief creates a portal for healing, resolve and reconciliation. Modern society encourages us to by-pass these painful emotions. However, lamentations offers us an opportunity to acknowledge our past, our pain, connect with our angry and grief, to heal, to reclaim and embody our goodness our humanity, as we claim justice for the contribution of our ancestors to the success of our society, reclaim redemption and reparation and the level of spirit and bring that awareness and consciousness into our everyday reality. At a time like this through this honouring, this ritual, this worship, the spirit of justice, of Africa can be resurrected, remembered and reactivated.
“Senzeni na? – What have we done?” is a South African protest song made popular during the Apartheid period. Its English translation from the Xhosa and Zulu languages of its black people, is as follows:
“What have we done? Our sin is that we are black?
(Therefore,) our sin is the truth.
They are killing us.
Let Africa return.”
Such lamentations resonate with many that are found in the bible: e.g. Psalms 88, where people find themselves the targets of ethnic and racial inequality, injustice and oppression.
Part of the demystification of commemorations like this comes through the cathartic cleansing of our emotions, honouring those who had gone before, acknowledging the ways our ancestors chose to survive, their messages and meanings found in the subtle and not so subtle things that we feel, think, say, see and do. Once we notice how much these practices have persisted, then their suffering was not in vain. We did not die in vain if in lament we acknowledge the sacrifices that each ancestor made connects to the stand we make here today and every day.
In the Spiritual Baptist faith mourning is a daily ritual and constant meditation. We sing that “WEEPING MAY ENDURE FOR MANY A NIGHT” but “JOY COMETH IN THE MORNING”.
Consider that this moment acknowledges a portal, born in pain and nurtured in suffering in this dimension in a time not that long ago, (less than 1000 ages), a portal that allows the spirits of our ancestors to journey beyond these given circumstances, to repatriate, para venture that in this spiritual return honour is restored to their memory and that this honouring opens our rehabilitation to connect and respect the memory of our ancestors.
Therefore, by honouring this moment we not only lament and share in the excess of pain but, in releasing this emotion, we get to experience the ecstasy, the freedom that these souls experience, to live a life in spiritual reparation, to build a society where restoration becomes manifest in our collective thoughts, words and actions. We are no longer enslaved or victims, we did not have “nothing”. Instead, through the purging of our grief, we claim our freedom, take our place and assert our justice, our Africa.
ALL THE WAY FROM AFRICA LAND…
Culture Clinic is a weekly column crafted by Dr. John Hunte. Photo by Adrian Richards.