Afrikan-centered Rites of Passage: Feat. Wade Nobles, Paul Hill, Jr. and Lathardus Goggins


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Afrikan-centered Rites of Passage: Feat. Wade Nobles, Paul Hill, Jr. and Lathardus Goggins

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Afrikan-centered Rites of Passage: Feat. Wade Nobles, Paul Hill, Jr. and Lathardus Goggins

  1. 1. RBG Blakademics April, 2010 Afrikan-centered Rites of Passage: Video Lecture, Reader and Upcoming Textbook Tutorial designed and edited by RBG Street Scholar Image from Cover of Upcoming Book by Lathardus Goggins II, Ed.D. Link below The Necessity for Rites Of Passage- Dr. Wade Nobles Open the Lecture 1
  2. 2. RBG Blakademics April, 2010 Harvesting New Generations: Afrocentric Rites of Passage By Paul Hill, Jr.The National Rites of Passage Institute much quoted and overused African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child" is predicatedon the premise that healthy villages and communities exist. Contrary to this assumption, healthy villages and communities are the exception and not the rule. Thus, in America we do not suffer from a youth problem, we suffer from an adult problem. Youth do not develop in a vacuum, they develop in unhealthy villages and communities that we as adults are responsible for allowing to exist (Some, 1993). This dilemma is not limited to the poor in the inner city, but is found among all classes, wherever they live. Youth internalize the values and emulate the behavior of adults. The unraveling of wholeness of the individual and the degeneration of family and community life is a widespread problem. No where is this phenomenon more widespread and disproportionate than among African Americans. The phenomenon that reflects the unraveling ofwholeness of the individual and the degeneration of family and community life is recent. Asoppressive as enslavement was, the African-America population was able to develop andsustain domestic and kin arrangements and create healthy communities. Prior to 1917, overninety percent (90%) of all black children were born in wed lock. It has only been in the past fourdecades that one begins to see significant changes take place in the African-American family.Up until 1960, eighty percent (80%) of all black children lived with both parents. However, by1990, less than fifty percent of African-American children lived with both parents (Gutman, 1976,Staples, 1984).Contrary to our current dilemma, black people were stolen from Africa as whole people with astrong concept, cultural competence, high self-esteem, positive behavior, and group loyalty(Perkins, 1986). However, through historical enslavement, and the current chains and images ofpsychological enslavement, many black people are now fragmented and fractured. They arecharacterized by a confused self-concept, cultural incompetence, ambivalent behavior,depreciated character, adaptive behavior, confused group loyalty, and reactionary behavior. Theinherited historical images and the market-inspired way of life have sabotaged many of ourefforts for true manhood and womanhood (Akbar, 1987, West, 1992).Definitely, not all African-Americans have been cruelly affected by such forces, but few canclaim complete immunity. In response to the dilemma, various strategies and programs havebeen prescribed for the development of young African-American youth. The themes reflected incurrent strategies and programming are mainstreaming and skill-building (Watt, 1997). Suchthemes are predicated on a myth created by American society. The myth reflects what it means 2
  3. 3. RBG Blakademics April, 2010to be successful; that success determines individual worth; and that the individual is solelyresponsible for achieving success at any cost; that success and becoming number one ismeasured in terms of accumulated wealth and power; and that through hand work andingenuity, anyone can become successful.Mainstreaming and skill-building themes are predicated on the American dream of success.Mainstreaming efforts have paired youth with "successful" (based on education, status, andincome) individual who act as role models and demonstrate in a very tangible way what can beachieved. The mentors support, advocate and teach youth, males in particular, what they needto succeed and become part of the countrys mainstream.Skill-building through behavior modification has its root in social science theory and the helpingprofessions. Specific behaviors are targeted, and interventions are designed to modify thesebehaviors and prevent adverse outcomes.Another popular recurring theme is cultural socialization as a strategy for development ofAfrican American youth. Cultural socialization stresses African-centered education andprogramming that is intended to instill ethnic pride, self worth, focus of control and mastery inyouth and protect them from societal assaults to their self-esteem and cultural identity. Theproblem associated with harvesting a generation of centered and whole youth throughmainstreaming, skill-building and cultural socialization programming has been a lack of caringadults. Adults, particular males who have functioned as teachers, mentors and youth serviceproviders have generally experienced difficulty in nurturing and engaging in generative behavior.Their mid-life development has given way to unsuccessful mid-life crisis (Freedman, 1992).They, themselves, are makeshift adults who have never been initiated by a "community ofadults" into adulthood.The problem of harvesting a generation of African-American youth is qualitative not quantitativein nature. A "community of adults" who have the nurturance and generative capacity is lacking.A "Community of adults" who function as "transitional figures" to invite, prepare, and welcomeyouth into the adult world is lacking. How do we become adults?Adults are not born but made. The shaping of the adult we become, begins early in life. Thedesires of our nurturer are subtly communicated to us in the ways we are held, what we are fed,how and when we are consoled, why we are sung to or smiled at. That molding continues overthe years as we are told what stories are worth our attention and what adventures are worth ourenergies. We are taught what to value and what to ignore. Eventually, we are ready to beadmitted to the rights and responsibilities of full cultural membership (Hill, 1992). Only then dowe become adults.In some cultures, the final entrance into adulthood is marked, as has been from timeimmemorial, by the coming-of-age ceremony. Like other major life change ceremonies whichaccompany birth, marriage, and death, the coming-of-age ceremony locates the individual at anew point within the surrounding community and indeed, within the universe as a whole. It is acritical moment of expansion, the entrance into a world of larger responsibilities, largerprivileges, larger secrets, larger institutions, larger understanding. It amounts to a second birth;entry not into physical life, but into the higher life of culture and spirit. Accordingly, it encouragesthe society to display itself fully, giving immediacy to its myths and traditions and physicalexpression to its animating beliefs (Cohen, 1991). 3
  4. 4. RBG Blakademics April, 2010The post-industrial world, by contrast, holds ceremony suspect, viewing it as a kind of primitivewitchery that deludes us into accepting beliefs that would not otherwise be found in the world ofthe intellect. Further discrediting the validity of ceremony and ritual are the repeated explosionsthat have fragmented nearly all of the comfortable assumptions which are, of necessity, part ofany act of ritual acknowledgment. Ceremony lives by continuity, not change; and so, thecoming-of-age (rites of passage) in its pure form, has disappeared from all but the mosttraditional and isolated societies. This is, indeed, lamentable. Especially if one believes that thefoundering of contemporary youth - their identity crises and frantic searching for personalidentity in the fires of intense experience - is a symptom of the loss of a discernible thresholdover which one passes into accepted adulthood. The gateway is gone, leaving the youngergeneration to thrash through the underbrush on their own in the hope of finding reasonablepassage (Jones, 1984).The African ancestors of African-Americans who were brought to the colonies and America asunwilling immigrants had a tradition and history for adulthood development and regeneration ofthe community; however, one of the devastating effects of the European slave system was thatit caused much cultural confusion for the displaced African. New systems of thinking, acting andworking were foisted upon the African as he entered the Caribbean and the Americas.Consequently, ritualistic and ceremonial practices which previously had great meaning for theAfrican were suppressed or became so diffused by alien practices that their effectiveness on thelives of African people was diminished. Our African forbears, through ritual and ceremony,always knew who they were, where they were from, the place that they had in society, and asense of their own destiny. Life was laid out in stages. Each of those stages carried with it aspecial meaning for the community. Life was like a mountain with a number of plateaus whichgave the person a view of the community and a new meaning and responsibility for his or herlife (Kenyatta, 1955, Turner, 1969). On the other hand, the life of the displaced African within thenorthern hemisphere has been almost devoid of the necessary kind of staging. Consequently,most of our youth, by the time they reach early adulthood, feel that much of the meaning hasgone out of their lives. In view of the fact that most black people grow up with a feeling of limitedoptions in life, very early they begin to lose their youth enthusiasm and optimism (Sims, 1976).An increasing number of African Americans strongly feel that the reinstitution of staging (rites ofpassage) within the growth process will give our children the springboard they sorely need asthey prepare to take their rightful places within the community and world.One of the fundamental ways human groups ensure continuity and continuation of their cultureover time, is to socialize the young in matters of feeling, thinking, believing, and behaving sothat they become proficient bearers of the groups culture. The socialization process becomes aprescription for group survival. It incorporates all that has been, all that currently is, and mirrorsthe hope for the future.When comparing African American to African culture, one finds in some African cultures definiterituals which youth must experience in order to be recognized as men and women or adults.These activities prepare young people in matters of sexual life, marriage, procreation, andfamily/community responsibilities, while fulfilling a great educational purpose (Zahan, 1960,Read, 1968, Ray, 1973). The occasion often marks the beginning of acquiring knowledge whichis not otherwise accessible to those who have not been initiated. It is an awakening, a new dayfor the young. They learn to live with one another. They learn to obey. They learn the secretsand mysteries of male-female relationships. That part of the rich African inheritancecharacterized by traditions of personal mastery and locus of control through ritualization of 4
  5. 5. RBG Blakademics April, 2010social relationships has been lost. But, in assessing the present predicament of AfricanAmericans, it is only natural that there take place an examination of African origins to determinewhat should have been saved. Obviously, many elements of African and early African Americanheritage have been lost, stripped away, or simply allowed to wither.The nearest modern equivalent to ancient initiation rites is formal and institutionalizededucation. Both processes are compulsory. Both try to bend the unruly energies of youth toconstructive social purposes. Both attempt to teach obedience, discipline, and the basics ofproper behavior. Both express and communicate the central value of the sponsoring culture.The differences between the old and new are as follows:-The old rites were religious; the new rites are usually secular.-The old rites ran by sun and seasonal time; the new rites operate by clock and calendar(usually sedentary and behind closed doors).-The old rites centered on concrete experiences; the new rites rely heavily on words, number,and abstractions.-The old rites were dramatic, intense, forceful and fast; the new rites are slow, extended, andoften vague about ultimate destination.-The old rites engendered awe; the new rites commonly produced detachment and boredom.-The old rites typically inspired participation in the ongoing history of the culture; the new ritesare often holding areas created where youth are isolated from the larger cultural reality ratherthan allowed to experience it.-The old rites resulted in an immediate and unmistakable status change; the new rites providedno such direct deliverance into adult roles and status.-The old rites were over at a determined place and at a determined time, witnessed by thecommunity as a whole; the new rites can go on indefinitely and be severed perhaps neverresulting in general community recognition.-The old rites were in the hands of caring adults who had their interest at heart; the new rites arefrequently monitored by uncaring employees whose purpose for being is related to his or herown financial condition and interests (a shift in control from the family/community to the publicand private sector who share no common purpose).Given that schools do not satisfactorily fulfill the cognitive, physical, psychological/emotional,effective and cultural requirements of a coming-of-age ceremony or a true rites of passage it isnecessary for families and communities to provide a process for transition from childhood toadulthood. 5
  6. 6. RBG Blakademics April, 2010What is rites of passage?Historically, rites of passage did not exist by any such name or label. This is because theAfrican beliefs and behavioral practices were interwoven into the very fabric of life in thecommunity. It was not until Arnold Van Genneps 1906 publication of Les Rites De Passage didthe phrase have its birth. Gennep, unlike his contemporaries, felt that anthropologicalinvestigations would do well to examine the rituals and ceremonies of various African peoplesand cultures, not for the purpose of identifying, cultures, but rather to determine whether theypossessed any inherent value for their practitioners. During his years of study, Van Gennep wasable to ascertain the existence of numerous principles, beliefs and practices which constitutedthe African paradigm for living. These were delineated in his 1906 publication and should serveas the basis for any serious discussion of rites of passage. Genneps studies revealed theAfrican conceptualization of life as a journey through a series of identifiable phases withpredictable challenges or crises along the way. Each crisis was necessarily accompanied byspecified rituals and ceremonies which facilitated the individuals movement (passage) alonglifes path. As defined by Gennep rites of passage became those rituals and ceremonies whichaccompany a life crisis (Gennep, 1960).The African paradigm for living incorporates those fundamental beliefs/principles that guided theindividual, communal, and spiritual behaviors of the African people. These, based uponGenneps research may be summarized in part as follows:African Life ParadigmBeliefs/Principles1. Humanity and nature are one.2. Both humanity and nature experience cyclical, periodic and inevitable change.3. In nature these changes are celestial. In humanity they are called "life crisis."4. Both humanity and nature functions by the law of "regeneration" which state the energy in allsystems is eventually spent and must be renewed at intervals.5. In nature this process symbolized as a Death and Rebirth sequence, is monitored by rites ofpassage.6. "Life Crisis," by definition, are disruptive to both the individual and to the community.7. The rites of passage, which assist and cushion the individuals passage, consisted of threeessential phrases: separation (pre-liminal), transition (liminal), and incorporation (post liminal).The Africa life paradigm reflects a recognition and appreciation of the principles which governthe interdependence of humanity with all other life. Les Rites De Passage was the frameworkwithin which the individual was guided through the psycho-social transformations necessary tothe successful navigation of lifes cyclical periodic and inevitable changes. Moreover, it assuredthe community of a continuous flow of mature confident and socially conscious adults. 6
  7. 7. RBG Blakademics April, 2010Aside from an understanding of the foundations of the rites of passage it is also important toreview the African educational and socialization systems. The ten basic principles of Africaneducation found continent-wide for education and socializing children are as follows:-Separating a child from the community and routines of daily life. Separation has deep spiritualmeaning; it prevents distraction.-Observing nature. African schools were built on observing nature. Cycles of growth anddevelopment are based on universal principles of life, so nature can become the teacher.-A social process based on age, education in Africa is a social process as opposed to thewestern educational emphasis on individualism. African education is a social process conductedin groups. All children are expected to master all requirements from beginning to end as agroup; this is the African way. There is not gifted, average, and impaired groupings.-Rejection of childhood the apostle said, "When I became a man, I put away childish things." Apoint of departure should be based on a ceremonial shift, so everybody knows its time to quitplaying and be serious.-Listening to the elders. In African education, the most significant part is conducted by theelders. Wisdom is more than knowledge. Young children need to be exposed to wisdom andthat doesnt always mean degrees. Elders play a major role in the education and socialization ofchildren in traditional African society.-Purifications rituals. African education is full of rituals and symbolic purifications for rebirth orchange, such as baptism. Events that are symbolized are internalized and made meaningful.-Tests of character. Via demonstrations of courage, loyalty, commitment, and persistence.-Use of special language. New vocabulary, sounds, and symbols are created.-Use of a special name. Special names are used which are symbolic of certain characteristics.Symbols or names that have special meanings are also chosen. Symbolic resurrection. Uponcompletion of the process, one demonstrates what has happened to him by a ceremony thatsays, "I am now reborn into the community." The community stops its business and welcomeshim/her back as part of the community.Use and adaptation of the principles identified does not exclude children from mastery ofmodern technology or keep them from learning about other people in the world. However, usingthese principles will place African childrens education in a more nurturing and generative light.If we are to develop adults and promote the development of African American youth, we mustuse Afrocentric rites of passage as a model. Afrocentric rites of passage is a humandevelopment process that functions as a prelude to a metamorphosis, to manhood orwomanhood, to adulthood, to wholeness. Wholeness reflects, self knowledge, personalmastery, and an Africentric locus of control. The Africentric locus of control places descendantsof Africans in the center. 7
  8. 8. RBG Blakademics April, 2010The Africentric perspective, often referred to as the black perspective, is first and foremost atheoretical frame of reference or world view centered in Africa as the historical point ofgeneration; unity that contains and transcends all opposites.As theoretical framework, it is both conceptual and pragmatic, concrete and functional. Itenables one to approach feelings, knowledge, and actions as a comprehensive whole ratherthan as disparate segments. It enables one to move from a position characterized by a neo-colonial mentality to one of relative autonomy. Relative autonomy refers to the functional needto acknowledge ones fundamental accountability to ones community as well as oneself,thereby avoiding the inapplicable perspective of western individualism (Asante, 1988, Meyers,1988).Two important elements makeup the Africentric perspective: (1) its assessment explanatorypower and (2) its functional power. Assessment-explanatory power means screen out aspectsof African American life and experience in terms of healthy or unhealthy implications. In usingthe Africentric perspective to screen reality; one is able to predict the behavior andconsequences of the elements which make up reality. Assessment-explanatory power alsoreveals historical and contemporary feeling tone in past and present experiences of AfricanAmerican people. The functional power of the Africentric perspective is directive in that it givesguidance and power to the thoughts and actions of African American people. It is not anti-whiteor reactionary; nor is it a defensive strategy; it is an offensive (unifying) strategy that is pro-black.The Africentric perspective, grounded in the socio-historical struggles of African Americanpeople, forces one always to ask the alternative question. It forces one to think within dialecticalframework. For example, if African American men are disproportionately represented in theprison population, one does not assume that they commit more crimes than others. Using theAfricentric perspective, the question has to be why? To question the analysis beyond theconsideration of individual and/or personal pathology. Paramount in the Africentric perspectiveis that the struggles of African American have historically had the central goal of gaining somemeasure of human dignity in a society which too often disregards the culture of non-westernpeople. Africantricity promotes an appreciation for, and utilization of the collective experiencesof black people in every dimension of existence.The foundations of rites of passage beyond the African life paradigm and Africentricity arepredicated on a minimum moral values system-Nguzo name (or eight principles) and ritualsthrough ceremony. Minimum moral values are important because without them, practice wouldbe incorrect and possibilities would be limited. Principles are categories of commitment andpriorities which define human possibilities and a value system. Such a value system is theNguzo name or eight principles. The minimum moral value system is based on MaulanaKarengas Kawaiada theory which maintains, "That if the key crisis in black life is cultural crisis,i.e., a crisis in views and values, then social organization or rather reorganization must start witha new value system" (Karenga, 1980). The Nguzo name is the minimum value system AfricanAmericans need in order to develop and regenerate community. The eight principles are: unity,self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose,creativity, faith, and respect. What is the role of rituals in the rites of passage process?Rituals through ceremony are important to internalize experiences. To become a rite or ritual, anactivity need only be serious, established or prescribed by a legitimate authority, and formally 8
  9. 9. RBG Blakademics April, 2010performed at a designated time with symbolism. It is a ceremony and often a celebration ofsome kind (Hare, 1985). The following points are essential in implementing a ritualizing process:-Give definite initial directions.-Allow emotional expression and promote satisfaction at each step-Allow for consideration of other family members.-Keep permanent records-snapshots, journal, etc.-Provide appropriate recognition for initialing or culminating age period, age, year or skill levels.-Recognize an extension from the past.-Establish future behavior expectations.-Make appropriate and accurate African custom references through research.A ritual is the enactment of a myth. By participating in a ritual, you are participating in a myth.Myths are stories of our search through the ages for truth, for meaning, for significance. We allneed to tell our story and understand our story. What happens when a society no longerembraces a powerful mythology? To find out what it means to have a society without any rituals,read your local and national newspapers. The news is full of destructive and violent acts byyoung people. We, as adults, have provided them no rituals by which they become members ofthe community (Campbell, 1988). Where do the youth growing in community get their myths?They create their own. This is why we have graffiti. This is one of the significant reasons whygangs exists. Why do gangs have their own initiations and their own morality? (Perkins, 1987).They have not been initiated into the community!Rites of passage represents a process for developing adults and regenerating community. TheNovember-December, 1995, edition of the Futurist forecasted "The use of Africentric rites ofpassage initiations as solution for at-risk young black males." (Cornish, 1995).In 1990, the Governor for the State of Ohio, through Executive Order 89-0 established TheCommission on Black Males. The commission was created as a response to a very real andgrowing crisis facing African American males in Ohio. Historical disenfranchisement,discrimination, inadequate education and thwarted aspirations have often undermined thechanges of African-Americans to compete successfully and function productively in Americansociety. The commission through state-wide hearings in the areas of health, education,employment, and criminal justice, presented 112 recommendations for action in its final report.Recommendation number three stated the following "Create, maintain and sponsor rites ofpassage type programs throughout Ohio for African American men." (State of Ohio, 1990).Rites of passage as a movement is growing within the United States. However, for rites ofpassage to be successful as a human development process, a critical mass and community ofcaring adults must be created to represent the village for raising children and receiving them asinitiated members and adults. Rites of passage program development is limited only by the 9
  10. 10. RBG Blakademics April, 2010creativity of those wishing to established a new, exciting and culturally relevant program. Thereare groups, well entrenched inAfrican American communities which have comprehensive life cycle rites of passage. The groupforms a foundation for the regulation and oversight of the members within their purview. Oftenthese groups establish a structure that will address holistic developmental needs of thecommunity. There may be a school, youth programs, ongoing cultural events, celebration ofAfrican American holidays and ancestors, naming ceremonies, weddings, etc. Some of thesegroups have established regular acknowledgments of the rites by age groups. Someestablished guidelines for approximated changes in life cycle development, and others suggestthat every 7 years there should be an acknowledgment of celebration. At birth the namingceremony is performed, at approximately age 14, the puberty rite is performed, age 28 maymake the entry to adulthood and so with eldership status and honor recognized at around age63 years (Coppeck, 1990).Adult or mid-life is an important period. This is an important period for acknowledging throughrites those approaching or reaching mature adulthood. This is a period of giving to thecommunity because very often skills and education have been attained and child bearing andrearing are out of the way or completed. Preparing adults to use rites of passage for youthdevelopment requires adult rites and mentor training.Adult rites in addition to initiated and trained adults, grandparents to elders are important toinitiation or rites of passage. Numerous writers (Mbiti, 1970;Some1993, 1994) have shared theconcept of the spiritual closeness between children and grandparents or elders. This isexplained because one (the child) has just come from the other side-spiritual world. The adultwill not intercede in the relationship between the wise ones - the child and the elder. When theboundaries between this world and the spirit world begin to blur it is time for a transformation. Atadolescence the child has moved significantly away from their spirit nature and be preparedthrough initiation to take key on the adult roles of the community. It is at this time that thelearning exchange for the childs next step - adulthood as men and women: mate, parenthood,economic providers and protector.What are the components of the rites of passage/initiation process? Passages are thesignificant transition points in our lives. Passages of a life time fall into four types: birth, initiation,marriage, and death. By birth, we refer to new beginning; initiation is about learning and testing;marriage passages take place when things come together; death is a time of finishing or lettinggo.Rites of passage are what we do to mark our passages. They can include public and privaterituals, activities and events.Initiation into the various stages of life, especially adulthood is essential for communityregeneration. The four elements of the rites of initiation are: time of learning; time of testing;enacted ritual; community learning. The individual elements are not necessary sequential, buttheir presence takes into account the important steps of an initiation program for individualswithin a community (no matter what age).Initiation is a time of learning. The elements of learning are developing physical skills, grasp ofknowledge base, journey of spiritual development, and an encounter with social realities. Types 10
  11. 11. RBG Blakademics April, 2010of learning for young people might include self-reliance skills, personal and communityresponsibility, teamwork, and specific skill like camping and canoeing.Learning the history and values is related to grasping of a knowledge base. The existence of acommunity is crucial to the whole process and program; if no community exists, a temporarycommunity must be created in the process of the program.The way these new skills and information are related to ones spiritual journey or larger worldview are pivotal to this life event- they are not separated. For youth, this can include times ofgroup debriefing around a fire after a challenge or team building initiative, journalizing, writingpersonal purpose statement, and developing a group purpose statement. Relating ones own lifeto the world is also important to a youths journey. Other activities might include communityservice projects such as preparing and serving a meal to the homeless, helping with the buildingof a community play area, and registering people to vote.The elements of the testing are knowledge and skill proficiency, reflective encounter, personaland team perseverance, and pushed beyond comfort.In traditional cultures, testing was done by the community, not the parents. Usually its done byrepresentatives, but sometimes the whole community was present for the testing.Today, it is still important that parent or parents not do the actual testing of the initiate. Certainlyit is possible for the parent to do a good job of it, but when there are others from the communitywho perform the task, it emphasizes that this is a worldly passage, not just a family one. Inmany traditional cultures, the young person leaves the family at this point, at least for theduration of the initiation and testing.Testing should never be comfortable. When the test is too easy, it becomes meaningless. Itshould be structured so that the youth are motivated and challenged. Rope courses offermotivation and challenge. They are designed to take participants into new challengesindividually and as a group. Other activities such as repelling and rock climbing can be equallyeffective. In all activities, trained guides are crucial.Finally, the importance of reflection by both individuals and the group make the difference in thelong term effect of the program.The elements of ritual are traditional and modern, full of drama, multigenerational community,and full of mystery.Ritual is the drama which brings meaning to the initiation. Rituals should be used to begin aprograms (unity circle, invocation and libation) to mark transition in the program, at the actualinitiative ceremony, and finally, a ritual of closure, to let go of the temporary community.When rituals are created for the event, maintaining elements of tradition as well as the creationof new ones should be used. For instance, an initiation program would reflect the followinggeneral format:Processional 11
  12. 12. RBG Blakademics April, 2010Invocation and libationStating the intention of the ritualThe opening councilChanting and songDrumming and danceQuestions and chargesThe give away ceremonyGrounding the participantsThe feastClosure-releasing the communityTraditionally, the ritual was done by the elders of the community, but the presence of the wholeinitiated community or at least its representative is important to the notion that the wholecommunity is participating.Elements of celebration are honors personal and group victories, bestows responsible mantle,intergeneration participation, and joyous and fun.In the celebration of the new initiates, the whole community acknowledges the newly admittedmembers of the community and honors them for their achievements. The whole community ispresent. The community presents gifts to the initiates. The initiates are acknowledged andrecognized as full and responsible members of the community.In conclusion, rites of passage for the African American community must be Africentric andground in a minimum moral value system or the Nguzo name. A thorough understanding andoperation of such a process and its values are crucial. Rites of passage as a process of lifecycles development and community regeneration is part of an African tradition that must beresurrected. The rites of passage concept provides an opportunity to develop youth andregenerate the community. (Refer to Chart I for the Africentric Rites of Passage: A ChangeModel For Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors Among African American Youth.)Harvesting a new generation through rites of passage is limited only by the creativity of thosewishing to re-establish the way. What has been presented is something old that has beenrediscovered, something that has been returned to through our (1)Akan ancestors with thefollowing words of inspiration: RETURN AND FETCH IT"________________________ 12
  13. 13. RBG Blakademics April, 2010 13
  14. 14. RBG Blakademics April, 2010(1) Akan represents a major Western African culture of enslaved Africans dispersed to theAmericas.REFERENCESAkbar, N. (1987). Chains and Images of Psychological Slavery, Jersey City, NJ: New MindProductions.Campbell, J. (1988). The Power of Myth, New York: Doubleday.Cohen, D. (1991). The Circle of Life, San Francisco: Harper.Coppock, N. (1990), Afrocentric Theory and Applications, Volume 1: Adolescent Rites ofPassage, Washington: Baobab.Cornish, E. (1995, November-December). Futurist, Outlook "96", Bethesda, Maryland: WorldFuture Society.Freedman, M. (1992). The Kindness of Strangers: Reflection on the Mentoring Movement,Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures.Gennep, A. (1960). The Rites of Passage, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Gutman, H. (1976), The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom 1750-1925, New York:Pantheon.Hare, N&J. Hare (1985). Bringing the Black Boy to Manhood: The Passage, San Francisco: TheBlack Think Tank.Hill, P. (1992). Coming of Age, Chicago: African American ImagesJones, T. (1984, Summer). Growing Up Modern. Creative Living: The Magazine of Life.Psychics, NJ: Santo Saliture.Karenga, M. (1980). Kawaida Theory, Inglewood, California: Kawaida Publications.Kenyatta, J. (1955). Facing Mount Kenya, New York: VintageMeyer, L. (1988). Understanding an Afrocentric World View: Introduction to an OptimalPsychology, Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt.Molefi, A. (1988). Afrocentricity, New Jersey: Africa World Press.Perkins, U. (1986). Harvesting New Generation, Chicago: Third World Press.Perkins, U. (1987). Explosion of Chicagos Black Gangs, Chicago: Third World Press. 14
  15. 15. RBG Blakademics April, 2010Ray, B.C. (19973). African Religions: Symbols, Ritual and Community. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:Prentice-Hall.Read, M. (1968). Children of Their Fathers: Growing Up Among the Ngoni of Malawi. New York:Holt, Rhinehart & Winston.Sims, E. Jr. (1976). Rites of Passage Program for Black Youth. Self Published ThroughAssistance of the United Church Board of Homeland Ministries, New York, Black EcumenicalCommission, Boston.Some, M. (1993). Ritual. Portland, Oregon: Swan Raven & Co.Stamples, R. (1984). Black Masculinity, San Francisco: Black Scholar Press.State of Ohio. (1990). Ohios African-American Males: A Call to Action (Report of the GovernorsCommission on Socially Disadvantaged Black Males) Columbus, Ohio: The Ohio Office of BlackAffairs.Turner, V. (1969). The Ritual Process, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.Watt, R. (1997). Manhood Development in Urban Africa-American Communities, New York:Haworth Press.West, C. (1993). Race Matters, Boston: BeaconZahn, D. (1960). Societe D Initiation. Paris: MoutonALSO SEE: 15