Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nakumbuka Day

There's another memorial/holiday that thousands will recognize today, but millions ought to. Nakumbuka Day.

Nakumbuka Day is a day to acknowledge those lost during the Mafaa, or Middle Passage, which is commonly known as the Global African Holocaust, where at least 100 million lives were lost over a period of 400 years. Nakumbuka is a Swahili word for "I Remember."

It is November 11 every year.

If you're planning a remembrance, you wear all white. There are a number of symbolic rituals done during a remembrance, using materials that reflect different parts of African life. Then people reflect and share on our collective global loss, and give thanks that we are the descendants of survivors of the Global African Holocaust.

Many people say that black people in the United States don't have their own rituals, traditions, or ceremonies. We do. I think Nakumbuka Day is a start, so that we remember from which/whom we came. As well, it's important to remember that before slavery, the slaves as we call them were human beings -- Africans -- with daily lives, hopes, lives, dreams, jobs, chores, and fears -- all disrupted by the arrival of kidnappers and free labor talent scouts.

Often, we just look at and call them "slaves" without looking at the humanity and human-ness of our people. As well, we rarely look at the psychological makeup of a people who would perpetuate an institution such as slavery on another group of people.

Dr. Joy DeGruy starts with her Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome work. If you ever get a chance to read her book Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome or to see her speak live, you should do so. So worth it.

Today, if it's your off day, maybe you can start with some reflection too on the Global African Holocaust.

We remember.

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