If you know anything about Afrikan culture, you would know that one of the greatest ills, is a person having an exaggerated sense of self. In Western terms, that amounts to ego or egotism. What would have happened in traditional culture, is the ego or false sense of self that naturally develops from childhood, is sacrificed in the “puberty” initiation. This is the purpose of this particular initiation.
In Distorted Truths, I examined the nkang’a, an almost universal rite of many Bantu cultures. We witnessed the symbolic correspondences and unifying principles essential in Afrikan thought. That by sacrificing the self-centered “individual” (the child), the rite gives birth to the communal person. Afrikan initiation systems in general produce a communal-minded person, one who identified with an ancestral tradition, and ultimately with the Supreme Being. Discarded is the self- centered person associated with the world of animality and childhood. Therefore the “individualism,” which Western culture so highly regards, can be equated to undisciplined adolescence in Afrikan culture.
This was skillfully done by the treatment of the initiate. The novice is treated like an object, (actually a symbol) acted upon by others who manipulate her body; everything being done to and for her. By altering her body image and her feeling of self control, the ritual alters her self image and world image. The elders displace her psychic center and it no longer resides within her. As the rite progresses, she becomes ever more active. The unity of the spirit/mind-body relationship means that to devalue the body also alters the mind. Her treatment is deliberately designed to destroy the self-centered world she lived in during childhood.
The society of women will teach the novice various sexual techniques and dances as well. They will alter her body and her sexual organs. Her labia are massaged and lengthened, and they blacken her vulva with mudyi bark. They make abdominal incisions and rub ash into them to create raised cicatrices, which men hold during intercourse in Ndembu culture. All this is done to heighten her sexual attractiveness. Her vagina is opened with a phallus-shaped instrument in anticipation of her first sexual contact. The effect of these operations is they deny the novice’s sense of self-control, even over her own body. Her identity is socially defined by the society of initiated women, not voluntarily defined by her. Males go through a similar process.
Now fast forward to today, “Where is the rite that put our egos in check?” There isn't one. And like Garvey asked in the last century, “Where is the black man's government?”, "Where is his King and his kingdom?” “Where is his President, his ambassador, his country, his men of big affairs?” And like he answered, “I could not find them," . . .and then 'I will help to make them.' We likewise have to help create the institutions that will create the rites and rituals that will create authentic people. In other words, human beings.
So what ends up happening to us, at home and abroad, is our ego which should have been "killed," replaced with and character and humility, the essence of the communal person, instead has been allowed to grow unchecked, in fact, exacerbated by Western individualism. We are overgrown children. Once this unchecked ego is combined with materialism and classism, we get what we got. A stumbling, bumbling people who are good talker but poor actors. WE CANNOT DO! And the most obvious thing we must do is free ourselves from our worldwide condition, which is shameful and unacceptable for a great and mighty people of our pedigree and genius.
We must see the world through Afrikan eyes.
P.S. Every Thing is One Thing—and that One Thing is God (The Supreme Being is a better term).