Singing has long been our people’s way of expression. In traditional Afrikan culture, songs are sung for the mother who has just given birth to a new baby, a newly reborn ancestor returning. Songs are sung announcing the death of a village member. In fact songs are
sung throughout the life of a traditional Afrikan person. This has been passed on to us in the Diaspora. However, we have are not aware of the cultural reasons we sing.
Today, I was singing a verse of the song by James Weldon Johnson, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. On stanza in particular invoked intense emotions within me. I was so moved that I could do nothing but cry, and I immediately began to praise our Afrikan ancestors. I began to chant “Iba” to them, which is our way of giving honor and praise. I could do no less as the full impact of what they endured hit me square in the face.
“Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our path thro the blood of the slaughtered,
Out of from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.”
My dear brothers and sisters, as we go forward into the only time anything or anyone black is celebrated, Black History Month, the ancestors speak loudly to me. Because of them, we have survived and have been able to get to this place in our history, a place that the oppressors did ever think we would see, for we were not meant to survive at all. This is a time when we, the descendants of the enslaved and colonized, can actually hope and look to a better tomorrow. As I sang that particular stanza, I realized all that our ancestors and Afrikan gods had done for us, how they guided our footsteps in order that we could have better days than they. The ancestors also remind me that all is not lost. Liberation of our people worldwide is indeed possible. We have undoubtedly “come over a way with tears has been watered. We have come, treading our path thro’ the blood of the slaughtered.”
What we cannot continue to do is to stand divided as a nation of people who descend from royalty and were never meant for servitude. In losing our culture, we also lost the ability for us to be “clannish” and to band together, at all costs, to fight a common foe. For Afrikans are very clannish people. We should never forget that Afrikan blood has been shed, both here in the Diaspora and in the Motherland. The Oyinbo has built this nation on the blood of
these ancestors and others have exploited, raped, and pillaged the land from whence they came.
As we stand in the footsteps of our honorable ancestors, we should lift our voices and sing songs celebrating whom we are! Every black man, woman and child should look to the heavens, as they behold the only thing greater than they, and lift those voices to sing songs of a renewed hope in our liberation!
The ancestors saw ahead to each and every one of you, for you are the ancestors reborn. They struggled to survive in horrific conditions, such as we, their descendants will never know because of their sacrifices. They died knowing they would return to settle the score,
and they have been, in each and every black face.
We have now “Come to the place for which our fathers sighed”, away from the “bitter” chast’ning rod. Our existence on this planet, despite the efforts of those who seek to oppress and destroy should give us all pause for thought, and praise to those ancestors who wove
the very fabric of our existence and on whose shoulders we stand today? Why should we not lift our voices and sing, “till earth and heaven ring”?
This country has been built upon the backs of the Afrikan slave, our own ancestors. It is those ancestors’s blood, which not only courses through our veins, but flows on the ground on which we stand today.
“The blond-haired, blue-eyed white man has taught you and me to worship a white Jesus, and to shout and sing and pray to this God, that’s his God, the white man’s God. The white man has taught us to shout and sing and pray until we die, to wait until death, for some dreamy heaven-in-the hereafter, when we’re dead, while this white man has his milk and honey in the streets paved with golden dollars here on this earth!” Malcolm X. I would like to add and paved with the blood of the Afrikan.
What I am asking is that if you do not think of these honorable ancestors at any other time, honor them at least during Black History Month. Lift every voice and sing! Black man, black woman, black children, shout and sing to the Ancients, those who will come to our aid and provide protection, wisdom and guidance in our struggle for self determination. Pour libations to them as you recite Iba, Respect to them.
Our liberation will not come praying to this oyinbo God. It will come if we pull together as a nation and remember whence we came. We come from a might, proud people, whose indomitable spirit lives on in us and who prayed to Afrikan gods!
As you do this, make a vow to be true to yourself and who you are. Make a vow to your brothers and sisters to be true to them and make a vow to be true to our native land.
“Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Right with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise,
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea…
…True to our God,
True to our Native Land.”
May the ancestors kiss your eyelids.
Iya l’Orisha Sangofunmilayo
Proud Supporter of Oyotunji Village!
I found this article both powerful and inspiring.
Because I am mulit-ethnic, I feel the call of all my ancestors, Carib/Garifuna, Afrikan and European. I choose to reject European superiority, but I can no less honour them and thank them for their DNA, and genes. I stand on the shoulders of all my ancestors.
Source: Ifa Orisa Wisdom