Tag Archives: Empowerment

Orisha On The Horizon

The year is 1619. On a voyage across the Atlantic ocean towards Jamestown, Virginia, captured African slaves carried with them a disabling sense of loss and a nagging uncertainty about their forthcoming destinies on their journey to the new world. Among the pain these resilient people also held onto various spiritual traditions and ways of relating themselves to the world from their perspective homelands which helped them sustain some sense of sanity within the hellish conditions they were forced to endure.

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Amidst European Christian and Spanish Catholic indoctrination, enslaved West Africans who were transported to various parts of the Americas had enough dignity and audacity to secretly practice various indigenous African spiritual belief systems against the will of their captors. Most prominent of these indigenous beliefs was the worship of Orishas, a Yoruba practice known as Ifa, with origin in present-day Nigeria and surrounding areas. Ifa is a potent method for displaced Africans to rediscover their true identities, claim access to birth-right cultural memories, and empower the world with a religion rooted in humanism, ancestor reverence, and the preservation of Earth. Ifa evolved over time into several distinct spiritual systems known today as Regla De Ocha (also known as “Santeria”) in Cuba, Candomble in Brazil, and Haitian Vodou.

Ifa stands out from the reigning religions of the day, some of which encourage separatism, because of its humanistic aspect. Practitioners of Ifa place all power into the people. While the Orishas are worshipped, it is clear that they are not merely outside entities, but symbols of nature and representations of ancestors. Here is where the value lies, because unlike most European religions where energy is invested into mere ideas, Ifa seeks to empower the individual, the community, and the world at large.

The rediscovery of our true spiritual traditions, rooted in West Africa, begins with the resurrection and globalization of the Black gods known as Orishas, who were almost successfully wiped clean from the communal memory banks of enslaved African peoples by colonizers. Profoundly described by Wole Soyinka as “paradigms of existence,” the following mythical symbols are, in my opinion, the most beneficial to know: Osanyin, Oya, Oshun, and Yemaya. Each of these Orishas teaches a valuable lesson through their various stories and what they represent which can prove to be useful in the evolution of oppressed Black peoples across the globe.

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During these times of critical health crisis’s and medical apartheid within the global Black community, a proper knowledge and respect for the healing powers of nature is necessary. Osanyin, known to be the god who has dominion over wild plant life, especially herbs, serves as a bridge into ancestral medicinal wisdom. Consider him Father Nature who rules all flora and fauna. The spirit of Osanyin can be found at the core of Blacks like famous botanist George Washington Carver, urban gardener and food activist Ron Finley, and the many other “healers” around the globe. Osanyin’s ashe, or life force, peaks Black interest in the field of medicine in addition to the cultivation and nurturance of plants and herbs. All of which are needed today with the spread of HIV/AIDS, Ebola, mental health disorders, and preventable diseases like diabetes that plague the Black community.

Yemaya and Oshun are two goddesses embody the power of motherhood, protection, and hold the memories of our fallen ancestors. In the Yoruba tradition where spiritual baths and cleansings are commonplace, water, like herbs, is a constant necessity. Though both embodiments of water, each Orisha has a distinct purpose when called upon. While Yemaya reigns over the oceans, full of purifying salt water, Oshun is the essence of rivers and fresh waters.

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It is widely known that Black women are among the most oppressed and disrespected individuals in the world. “Misogynoir,” a term coined by Myo Bailey, is used to describe how racism coupled with misogyny specifically affects Black women. Faced against powerful forces such as racism and misogynoir, the goddess image can be extremely empowering for Black women of the Diaspora. Yemaya and Oshun are not passive mothers. They can be gentle, but are fierce protectors of women and children. These goddesses, as well as Oya, divinity that guards the cemetery, are warrior spirits who not only give birth to nations, but are just as powerful as their male counterparts. Having female warrior goddesses to turn to in moments of strife and hopelessness, for Black women, can prove to be affirming and earn them proper respect from all others.

Ifa is a beautiful religion rich in ritual and adornment, but what’s most important is the devotee’s connection to spirit, the earth, and a respect for the past. Ifa forces its followers to open up to the worldwide community, being a religion of undoubted acceptance and care of fellow man, regardless of sex, gender, religious affiliation, or race. At the core of worship, Ifa would be most rewarding as a dominant force in the world because of its promotion of healing, loving, and respect, for self and others. As a people so stricken with pain, these Yoruba religious practices maintained and taught by those dragged unwillingly across the Atlantic ocean, provide for Black people a home in foreign lands.

Change is spreading across the Diaspora like germinated seeds blowing in wind produced by Oya, searching for fertile ground in which to settle. My ancestors and I share a common surety about the rising of the Orishas, who, like the Costus Spectabilis, are destined to flower in the minds and spirits of reawakening oppressed peoples.

FW.289 Yellow Trumpet, Costus spectabilis, N Zambia

Sustaining the Black Community with Holistic Health

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“Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process, heal our own.” -Wangari Maathai

The Black body has endured more than the growth-halting grip of former enslavement. We have suffered trauma to the African trinity of health (mental, physical, and spiritual), which greatly affects how we interact in the world, “post enslavement.” With media messages telling us to eat this sugary saturated fat to feel good, and drink that 80-proof poison to be as cool as our favorite rappers, the abuse to our bodies and overall well beings live on. Faced with limited access to life-sustaining foods due to socioeconomic status, the burden of low self-esteem from living in a racist society, and a general lack of knowledge about “living well,” a comprehensive timeline comes to mind about exactly how we have landed in the reality we are in today. Best believe this exclusion is systematic and purposely enacted. Though unfair, it is no one’s responsibility but ours to undo the mass confusion around health in the Black community and begin the journey towards healing from post-traumatic slave syndrome.

pirkle_jones_black_panther_free_breakfast At the best moments of the Black freedom struggle we recognized that we did not just need to change laws, we also needed to change our living patterns. Organizations like the Black Panthers not only told us to change our diets, they also imposed breakfast programs and other sort of community-oriented food programs so that people would have healthy living options and they understood the relationship between healthy living and a community, they understood the relation to building a Black nation and having healthy diets. – Marc Lamont Hill

Taking control of our lifestyles is not a new concept in the Black community. As Marc Lamont Hill suggested in the above quote from 2012 documentary “Soul Food Junkies,” we have always stressed the importance of proper nutrition and lifestyle in our movements in the past and can do so once again. The same fervor Black Panthers displayed in picking up guns to protect themselves from the quick bullet of the racist can also be used to pick up plant foods, herbs, and spices to aid in the body’s defense against diseases.

black-man-and-child-hospital-bed1With the rise of genetically modified foods, mineral-depleted soils, and processed foods being more affordable and available, many of the traditional foods we are eating today in our soul food dishes look like what our ancestors ate growing up, but chemically are not the same. Altered genetic makeup of foods and the addition of sugars, salts, and harmful preservatives aid in the development of chronic diseases Blacks are dying from in droves today. Food-related diseases which plague the community like heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes hold us back from being the fully functional beings were born to be. These many health issues act as blockades to our struggles towards freedom. Instead of actively working to defeat white supremacist oppression and earn back our rights as human beings, we’re fighting against our sickly bodies, and worrying heavily for our lives. This will change. It has to.

By embracing an attitude of  “self-care as healthcare” (Queen Afua), we can operate on an optimal level. Centering the importance of clean eating with whole foods, healing herbs, and antioxidant-rich spices, we can refocus our energies to where they need to be. By feeding ourselves well, we can expect a boost in self-esteem and a fulfilling sense of purpose, two things we, as a whole, lack for various reasons. Hope is not yet lost when we trust in our own capabilities and utilize the resources here on this planet to fuel us on our unique journey.

slide-03I propose purifying oneself through proper nutrition and a lifestyle that caters specifically to the Black body, promoting sound mental health, and welcoming a more freeing approach to spiritualism that pays homage to ancestors. As acts of self care as means of liberation and fortification to be pushed to the forefront of the many movements towards Black freedom.

Juneteenth: Channeling Our Energies in Our Own Purposes.

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I think my fascination of Juneteenth has always been the fact that we are alive and well to celebrate this infamous holiday. We made it. Our ancestors lived through slavery. And if it wasn’t for their persistence and high spirits, we wouldn’t be able to see this day and build each year… 

So there’s something to think about in this small victory for ex-slaves. How did they manage to live through this experience? And furthermore, what can we do today to exemplify the strength and vigor that they had? Of course there are many answers to these questions, but I want to look at something very specific: purpose. 

During slavery, it was clear that slaves served a higher master than White folk. This is not even to get too much into religion or anything, but they knew what there purpose was and for most of them, it was being able to get through, get out, and tell their stories. Because of these purposes, Black people today are still story-telling, maintaining culture, and living life. But we are lacking in something, and its definitely purpose. 

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Do you honestly think your daily life coincides with your intended purpose? Are your talents and qualities, as a human, as descendants of this great ancestors, are actively living in your everyday lives?

Every day we do things that benefit our current state but doesn’t not replenish our souls nor purpose. We work full time jobs to make a decent living and go to school to get degrees, but do we push ourselves to ultimately make us happy? Are our natural talents and “feel goods” being worked just as hard? ABSOLUTELY NOT. 

It’s cool to be great workers for the jobs that you are currently working, and of course it’s great to be awesome scholars, but imagine if you invested that same energy in fulfilling your own purpose. Think about how free and happy your life would be. If anything, we owe it to our ancestors who built this country, and were still devoted some of their time to ensure that their energy was not fully into doing the works of their masters. Live your OWN life and serve your own purpose. Now THAT’S freedom. 

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Use this day to reflect on your energies and how you can properly distribute them. What is you purpose? What are you going to do to make sure that you live through it everyday? 

Kwanzaa: Imani, Believing in Yourself and Others.

“To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.”

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To wrap up our glorious Kwanzaa celebration and the start of the New Year, Imani reinforces the six other principles that were previously discussed. All of these principles are helpful and go to know, but without the value of Faith, the foundation of change and growth is non-existent. 

Having faith is usually connected with religious purposes but in this case the idea of understanding who you are, along with the people in your community, helps the consistent sense of confidence needed in order to rise up oppression. Not just believing is crucial, but instilling and reinforcing the faith and hope that you have for the community can set the bar higher for better expectations. Having and keeping faith within yourselves and your neighbors will only bring great things for your plans and ideas to uplift Black people and all humankind. 

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AfroMadu challenges you to keep faith alive. No after how rough the situation is, or how tough the road to an idea or plan that will be beneficial to the community, keep your heads up and continue fighting!!! 

Imani: Faith. 

Do Not Mistake the Television for a Looking Glass.

I went to an event tonight that was focused on the empowerment of the Black Woman, and I must admit as much as I thought I knew about Women in general, I had no idea how much baggage they carried in the curve of  their smiles, with the excess spilling out of their pockets books. For that, I apologize. I have often mistaken the sass of Women, for outright disdain when it simply, could have been fatigue from walking around carrying the weight of not only her thoughts but the constant judgement the Black Woman bares the instant she exits her threshold. I will no longer fall victim to the insensitivity many of my Brothers have falling victim to, trying to tailor the Woman that wears her heart on her sleeve. 

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I have written in previous post about my love for the Black Woman, I see them all as personified art, with each curve and each follicle being a stroke of the creators paint brush, each somewhat similar but unapologetically unique at the same time. So this hits very close to home. Raised in a house with two older sisters, my Mother and Grandmother, I would never think that the pain they self imposed, whether it be a perm, or eyebrow waxing or what have you, would be so that they could go outside and be seen as an actual member of society. The mind set is so absurd, that one must  jump through hoops to look “desirable” on the outside for people to want to know the beauty that resides within. This world is tainted and I want to take the time out and use my medium to let every Woman that is reading this that if no one ever told you, you were beautiful, I am saying it right now! You Are Gorgeous! I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Do not hang your head for any reason because you were made in God’s image, so walk as if you are trying to talk to him face to face and thank him for your many blessing. DO NOT EVER apologize, for your complexion, your curves or the coarseness of your hair because you are so much more than any of those things. 

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The media has started this facade that all Women must be a default, no one varying from the next. Ladies this is a lie and you should not stand for it. If The Almighty wanted every Woman to look the same then he would have made you that way. Embrace your insecurities, sharpen them until they transform from a shield you hide behind to a sword that you fight with. The media is not real, what you see every morning is. Focus on the “Im every Woman”s and not the “Girl You Look Good Wont You Back That Thang Up”, even though I know that one genre heavily out weighs the other. The power of Man, in a general since of all human beings, comes from inside of you so for every compliment you do not get, you give yourself one and then give one to the girl who also may not have gotten one. Kindness has always been contagious, be the stone that causes miles of ripples in the Sea.

I hate when Men say that they apologize on behalf of all Men, that is asinine. I do apologize however for the times, however few, that I made any Woman feel as if you was not the Queen that she is. I make a promise to all Women that when my kingdom begins and my Queen and I welcome our Prince into the world, from day one he will be taught respect, humility and admiration for the beauty that lies within and outside of a women. My Princess will no that Daddy thinks she is gorgeous, and the television is a make believe place and the magazines tend to pretend that, the Women that call their pages home are perfect, and at this point I will point her to a mirror so she can see first hand want perfection really is.

As Always, I Love You, God Loves You, Love Yourself,

Man of Madu

Ball, You Aint Never Lied!!

AfroMadu is using our voice to attempt to put an end to obesity in the youth as well as the African-American community. So I am going to try to preach on some Basketball Court Etiquette. With these steps you will not only be ballin but also make some good friends. Now I LOVE Basketball it is like poetry in motion to me, and I take it very seriously, as do those you will be playing with. A lot of these rules apply to any interactions with large groups so pay attention.

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1. Bring Your Own Ball: If you go to a court there is a high possibility that there will already be a game in progress. Now is the time to silently plead your case for “Next”. While on the sidelines, dribble constantly, if you know some fancy stuff, show off! Now this is not a try out for an And 1 mixtape so leave all the ‘under the shirt wrap around’ nonsense at home. You look like a clown, this is serious. Personally I, just do some simple stationary crossover moves maybe a behind the back and leave it at that. Nothing is worse than trying to show off and having the ball roll into the middle of their game, you will be the wrong kind of attention.

In a business setting, you do not want to show up to a board meeting without your own pen and pad, but at the same time you do not want to show up with ALL of your gadgets because it makes you look like a douche.

2. Be Patient: The average game is played to the low teens, 11, 13, 15, but on occasion there is a game to 21 so be patient. My biggest pet peeve is someone asking me every basket what score is, while I’m trying to play D or set screens…etc. Also the rule of the ghetto is you have to win by 2, so keep that in mind while you are waiting. Make use of this time introduce yourself to everyone else waiting to hit the court because they are most likely apart of your community and who knows they might be your teammate in 10 minutes. If they are playing half court use the other half to warm up, jumpers, layups all that fun stuff.

In the real world you NEVER know who you are talking to so it is always imperative to show yourself in a positive light. At that internship anyone could be anyone. In an elevator you could be next to the window washer or the head of HR so you can not be shy.

3.Be Confident: Make it known that you got NEXT! Do not be overlooked as a spectator. You have to be sure of yourself! If they ask if you nice, you immediately answer in the affirmative. No one wants to play with someone who does not know whether or not they have talent.

If you were the Head of a company would you hire someone who was unsure of themselves, I wouldn’t.

4.No Your Limits: You have to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. I am 5’11, so I am not going to ask for no alley oops! Also Im a somewhat big guy, so if I get the ball in the open floor, Im not going to try and cross nobody, I will pass or pull up! Also I know I’m a defender so that what I try to display the most. You have to know where you shine, so that next time you hit the court, they tell you that you have next, you don’t have to ask!

Every interviewer will ask you your strengths and weaknesses, you have NO weaknesses! You rephrase your strengths to answer the question. If you are ambitious, then your weakness is you often push yourself to your limits in order to complete multiple assignments to a level that is above average.

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Use these tips to get healthy and hired!!

As Always: I Love You, God Loves You, LOVE Yourself,

Man of Madu

Peak of Reflection; Time of Execution.

As summer rolls down and the cool wind begins, fall will be here in no time. School will begin, work will get serious, and the ridiculous amount of time that was used to go to the beach and have fun in the sun will be gone. Then it hits, what can i do with that time during the new season?

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Summer is always the beneficial point of reflection. Marking summer as the deadline to the completion of your goals, to then create new ones when next summer rolls around is always a great idea especially with so much free time on your hands.

Now that summer is ending and Fall is coming, what have planned to do with your time during the upcoming season? If you haven’t thought about this, now is the perfect time to. Want to start saving money? want to be fit? read/ write more? take a few classes? find a new job? All of these things are possible with the right game plan and effort. If you haven’t proclaimed your goals to execute them, who will?

It is important to understand that at any giving time, change is possible. So why not start today if you want to start changing? Here are a few tips to execute your goals:

1. WRITE THEM DOWN: the idea of writing your goals down can mentally assemble the energy and motivation to get them done. Start by getting a goal journal and write down everything that you want to accomplish. When you are finished with  the goal, cross it off. Challenge yourself to get all the goals done.

2. THE MORE THE MERRIER: Having a support system can always be a good way to stay on track. When you are feeling like there is no hope, your support system is there to motivate you. Want to get fit? Find a group of people that have the plans and workout together? Nothing is better than doing things in a group to get the job done.

3. REWARD YOURSELF: Making sure that you receive the proper praise for completing a task or getting something done is vital in goal planning. Looking forward to that special treat can be another motivator in the execution plan. After finishing up a resume, reward yourself by hanging out with friends to celebrate that accomplishment. Just stay away from rewarding yourself too much!

All these plans can be great to get started in this new season of execution. LET’S BEGIN!