Sacred African Symbols — From Kemet to Kwanzaa and Beyond!!!

Posted on December 22, 2013 by


Sacred African Symbols — From Kemet to Kwanzaa and Beyond!!!

by Bro. Mxolisi T. / Ozo-Sowande, Senior Minister Emeritus, Wo’se Community House of Amen Ra: The Sacred African Way; Oakland, CA

Our worthy Ancestors of Ancient Kemet, recognized as being the most profound and prolific spiritual giants of the ancient world, were the preeminent pioneers in discovering and revering various aspects or attributes of NTR (The Infinite Creative Force, The All of All, “GOD”). These aspects or attributes, known as Ntru (Asar, Aset, Heru, Maat, Djhewty, and numerous others), were symbolically represented in statue form and displayed in their sacred places often resting upon woven straw mats!

For many of us, this reality is profoundly important when it comes to the Mkeka (Straw Mat), the foundational symbol of our Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba tradition, and all the Symbols that are to be placed upon it.

Some of us are inspired and empowered to see the straw mat as a symbol of Maat (Truth, Justice, Righteousness, Harmony, Balance, Right Order, Propriety, Reciprocity) — the energy-spirit-power that flows from the “heart” of NTR to bring (weave) all existence into being and to nurture its evolution.

In the freedom and power of this consciousness, we hear and feel the Mkeka and Nguzo Saba Symbols echoing the ancient-eternal reality communicated in Maat and the Ntru. The Mat (Mkeka) is a symbol of Maat — our foundation; our faith in the reality of The Infinite Creative Force and the sacredness of all life! The Mkeka calls us to always be conscious of and connected to this foundation and the potential of its unlimited power within us.

All of our Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba Symbols (Kinara, Kikombe Cha Umoja, Mishumaa Saba, Muhindi/Vibunzi, Mazao, Zawadi, Bendera ya Taifa) communicate to us vitally important avenues by which the potential of that unlimited power has been most-profoundly fulfilled across the broad spectrum of African traditions, heritage and culture over the ages:

  • Deeply abiding respect for worthy, inspirational ancestors (Kinara/Candle Holder);
  • Effective ritual ceremonies for invoking the presence of those ancestors in our celebrations and daily lives, and for extending the utmost of honor and respect to one another as we diligently pursue our greatest good (Kikombe Cha Umoja/Unity Cup);
  • Honoring and pursuing the most creative application of life principles that prove effective for the production and perpetuation of our greatest good (Mishumaa Saba/Seven Candles/Seven Principles);
  • Understanding that our children are not complete beings until they have been thoroughly taught the principles, precepts and practices of our way of life, and given meaningful opportunities to demonstrate and celebrate their comprehension of and commitment to our way (Muhindi/Vibunzi);
  • Honoring and celebrating achievements resulting from our ethic of collective work and responsibility for the greatest good of our people (Mazao/Fruits of the Earth & Our Ujima Labors);
  • Recognizing, honoring and rewarding individuals — especially the children — for their growth in honoring our way, for commitments made and kept; doing so with gifts that are consistent with the cultural and economic values of our way, that encourage and/or enable continued personal growth and diligence on that path (Zawadi/Culturally-Spiritually Meaningful Gifts)
  • A symbol of our quest for international restoration of our peoplehood; the Red, Black and Green flag — colors that have had great significance for African people throughout the ages. The red represents the blood that our people have shed over the ages in pursuit of our right to live as equals in the human community. Even more, it represents our commitment to continue that quest with all our hearts and souls, not for the shedding of blood but for the life of peace, harmony, prosperity and love that is the birth-right of all the human family. The black represents we, the African people — past, present and future. It also represents the rich black land from which we have sprung — Mother Africa. The green represents our youth and our deep and abiding commitment to the future of peace, harmony, prosperity and love that we, with them, are building (Bendera ya Taifa/Our Liberation Flag).

As we gather for Kwanzaa celebrations, and as we live 24/7/365 into our future, let’s allow these Symbols to remind us of the great foundation from which our Ancestors came forth as the greatest innovators and creators in the history of civilization. Let’s hear, feel and respect them, and allow them to stir within us the eternal desire, determination and confidence by which to emulate (surpass even) the Ancestors’ examples of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. Let’s always extend to one another the respect and reverence that each is due as temples of the spirit, image and essence of our Creator — regardless of gender, age, finances or denominational differences. We must be living models of this sacred reality! We must teach our children!

Kwanzaa Yenu Iwe Na Heri!!!

(May your days of Kwanzaa, and all the days of your lives, be abundantly filled with good fortune and blessings divine!!!)