The 5th Annual African Spirituality Conference held recently was attended by participants across the world especially the spiritual-minded people who value culture and tradition.
The convener, Dr. Akil Kokayi Khalfani while answering a few questions about the traditional African religions (or traditional beliefs and practices of African people) which are a set of highly diverse beliefs that includes various ethnic religions, and would he describe African spirituality?
“African spirituality globally is very diverse, however, there are various threads that run through most of the spiritual systems, practiced by African people on the continent, and in the diaspora. For instance, we can see that the elements are key globally: Air, fire, water, earth, and the notion of energy. We also see a common thread of reverence for ancestors. The other common thing is the idea of divination, where individuals or priests communicate, directly with the creator or spiritual guides or forces, like Orishas”. He said
Another question was asked that the 5th African Spirituality conference shows that a lot of people are acquiring knowledge across the world, and how would he advocate more on this?
“As African people become more in touch with our traditional African spiritual systems, we become more in touch with ourselves. These conferences are designed to allow African people to express and share with students and the community-at-large, the diversity and benefits of knowing the historical and contemporary presence of African history and culture as expressed through spirituality. In this regard, we have brought together, experts and practitioners of several different African spiritual systems” Khalfani said
“At the conference, we heard from, a Sangoma from South Africa, a Cadomblé priest from Brazil, a Voodoo priest from Benin, a Yoruba priest from America, and Africana studies professors from around the United States. The participants expressed high energy and a desire to have even greater connections.”
During the conference at the closing, a strived to connect, the threads that were weaved throughout the various presentations. Some of those presentations talked about the necessity of finding balance and the reflective nature of the lives we live. One presenter spoke about looking at a mirror, and how it is designed for you to see a reflection, but it is also for you to be able to see how you correct the things that either you don’t like or that you didn’t know how your self-presentation was being presented to others.
This is sometimes true from a spiritual level as well. That is a reading that may help. You learn that your self-presentation is a little off-base and it gives you the tools to find balance. I also talked about how we need to be an example for those who come after us, that is we need to be cognizant of what we do and how we do it because others are always watching, and we may not know that they are watching, but we are representatives of the larger community and the spiritual forces that we carry with us.
Also spoke about how we have to define, what spirituality is for us as African people and not allow others to define it for us, as we must also define the other key concepts that define and guide our lives. To allow others to define how we operate spiritually is to give them power over our being in existence, which we can no longer do. African people around the globe must unify, politically, spiritually, financially, educationally, and socially. At the core of this is our spiritual unification. That does not mean, that we must all have the same spiritual practices. This means that we must use our spiritual practices towards a common goal of uplifting the African global family, and not against each other.