People of African descent who want to learn how to acknowledge their ancestors have the opportunity to do so at a free workshop funded by the Leeway Foundation, being held from 1pm to 2pm, Saturday, February 27 at historic Berean Institute, 1901 W. Girard Avenue.
Iya Kai Jewett will discuss the importance of acknowledging, honoring and communicating with your ancestors, how to set up ancestral shrines/altars and the proper way of pouring libation.
“The goal of this workshop is to raise the consciousness of people of African descent and help them reclaim their African traditions,” said Jewett. “We are the only people in the U.S. who have been totally cut-off from our cultural heritage as the result of the African Holocaust. In short, we have lost our cultural identity.”
“Many of the problems African Americans face in our communities today are the direct result of losing touch with our ancestral traditions,” she explained. “In Africa and indigenous cultures throughout the world, honoring one’s ancestors are a major part of their traditions. They are a part of the family that must not be forgotten. We are here because they lived. Our ancestors are part of our genetic makeup. Our ancestors protect, guide and work to uplift us. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. We too, will be ancestors one day.”
Jewett said understanding the importance of acknowledging your ancestors is vital to the future of people of African descent in the U.S. “Reclaiming one’s ancestral heritage is a vital tool to acquiring and maintaining high self-esteem and cultural consciousness – something that is sorely lacking in African American society. Regardless of what religion you practice, African Americans and others of African descent must to begin to properly acknowledge and honor the ancestors of their families and the community in general and teach these traditions to their children.”
Other cultures acknowledge their ancestors on a regular basis said Jewett. “Look around you. Others have tapped into that source. They have ancestor altars in their stores and homes. That’s part of the reason they are so successful. Even in parts of Europe people do special rituals to acknowledge their ancestors. In the Old Testament the African Hebrews acknowledged their ancestors and consulted them in times of need. This is very important to our survival as a people. Reclaiming our ancestral traditions will help us clean up some of the mess we have created in our communities. Our ancestors are working hard to help us, but we have turned our backs on them!”
Part of the workshop will teach people the correct way to pour libation. “People are beginning to become familiar with the ritual of libation,” Jewett said. “However, there is a lot of misinformation in the African American community about libation as the result of the uninitiated speaking of verbal libation or calling a few ancestors’ names. There is no such thing as verbal libation. Libation is a traditional African style of prayer. People need to be taught correctly.”
Why a workshop on remembering your ancestors?
“This entire project was born out of a directive from my ancestors and Olodumare (Almighty God),” she explained. “I must obey them. I was given a gift and must share my knowledge with the people. It’s part of my destiny to help enlighten and empower people of African descent with knowledge of their ancestral traditions. As a priest in the Lucumi/Ifa tradition it’s my responsibility to help instruct my people in matters pertaining to the culture. Further, I have been instructed by my ancestors and the Angelic Forces assist people in doing so through my writing and my activities in the community. Now is the time for this knowledge to be imparted to our people.”
The workshop will culminate with a drum jam session and tribute to Dr. Matthew Anderson and his wife Dr. Caroline Still Anderson, the founders of historic Berean Institute from 2pm to 4pm. FREE. Registration is required for the workshop.
Register by sending an email with your name and “Ancestor Workshop” in the subject to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information download the Remembering Your Ancestors Flyer