The Cultural-Religious Community
The Yoruba, the Akan, and the Vodun (Haitian) communities are the three primary groups, with a more recent infusion of Kemetic centered worship such as the Ausar-Auset Society, that comprise the cultural-religious community. All of these groups suffer from a lack of formal institutions and bodies empowered to develop and implement a social agenda or a tangible economic base for empowering their individual communities locally or internationally. With few community owned facilities, formal places of worship, or sustainable programs to enable them to meet their economic, social and cultural development goals, this community is unable to provide leadership and direction within its own community let alone help provide leadership for Afrikan people as a whole. All this has to change and this community must become more organized than other religious communities. (The Ausar-Auset at one point appeared to be establishing many of the above elements, but efforts have seemed to have stalled.)
Since the early sixties, even earlier, there has been a growing community of Afrikan people in the US that have embraced traditional spiritual ideas, often referring to these practices as traditional religion. In other areas of the Afrikan Diaspora, like Cuba and Brazil, these spiritual traditions have a longer history. When my former wife was initiated in the Akan tradition, I became part of this community. Initially I served as my wife's okyeame or spokesperson (for the obosom or deity).
I made many observations and learned quite a bit during this new period in my life. I came to realize that the obosom were not to be fear but welcomed and loved. Many of our people fear the obosom because of their passionate and something exuberant, even seemingly capricious expression. But we mostly fear them because we fear our own emotions and passions. (Our Westernization had made us an emotionally uptight, sexually-frustrated people—Afrikan versions of the white man, LOL!) I also learned that the two primary gifts the obosom/deities bring are prophecy and healing. These were two of the primary gifts they always bring whether they are being venerated by the San or the Kemeyu (ancient Egyptians). After becoming a member of this community (we called ourselves, Afrikan traditionalists or just traditionalists), I thought the circle was completed.
I quickly came to realize that personal and even spiritual chaos often accompanied the persons engaged in these spiritual traditions. I once spoke with Baba Ishangi about the confusion in our communities. I said it was spiritual chaos—he corrected me and said it was spiritual madness. Why such confusion? This is perhaps for a couple of reasons. First, there is a the lack of a unified hierarchy or revealed cosmology that guides the leadership; and second, a lack of personal development in the leadership and community in general. In traditional society a number of specifically designed initiations, not simply being initiated into the shrine house, would have occurred. Initiation is a life long process—life itself is an initiation. The type of person that Master Butler said was missing from our communities is also missing in the cultural-religious community. This naturally affected the leadership because if the general pool that we drew from was lacking, then where were the people with discipline and character that we needed to raise to the level of leadership suppose to come from?
In Afrikan societies, the various shrines house are unified within the houses but not between them. Though there is no single structure that unites them, they are all given place and order in the cosmology (in some cases via the preeminent divination system). The mythology of the divination system establishes order and relation among the deities that then extend into society. An examination of the Dogon and Bambara cosmologies would reveal these systems mirrored their divination systems. The divination systems (and deities are actually part of divination systems, particularly in terms of the prophecy they provide), were localized in the various villages but unified through the divination system that the kingdom or society as a whole sanctioned. This is usually the divination system ruled by the deity who is considered the messenger of the Supreme Being. It was a male-female complimentary system based on 16 core symbols, which proliferated into 256 symbols. In West Afrika, Ifa is perhaps the oldest, and it gave birth of Fa, Efa, and other cognate divination systems among various kingdoms. In East Afrika, there is the Hakata dice, and Basket divination that act as universal divination systems.