Who We Are

Who We Are: "We are a collaboration of families of African Traditional practitioners coming together to venerate our Ancestors for the perpetual healing of our communities."About our favicon: Fawohodie, an adinkra symbol meaning the "symbol of independence, freedom, emancipation". From the expression: Fawodhodie ene obre na enam. Literal translation: "Independence comes with its responsibilities."

Monday, December 31, 2012

WANARAGUA - A Mask Dance of the Garinagu

Drums, feathers, shells, singing, crowds of people, masks, dancing - these are the things one will see each year in December when the Garinagu dance the Wanaragua in Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. Dancers young and old prepare throughout the year to dance the dance of their fathers, uncles, grandfathers, great-grandfathers on December 25th, and January 1st and 6th. The drums call from afar. You would hear a constant beat like a racing heart from a distance and then the task would be to find where the drumming is coming from. You would know you are closer because the beating would be louder but you would know you are there when you see the crowd of people gathered in the middle of a street and rising above the crowd would be many colourful feathers.
Wanaragua dancers in the ring 
video
 To be Wanaragua is a calling that many respond to from toddler age. Whenever the question is asked of a dancer, "How did you become a Wanaragua?" the common response would be that his father, grandfather, great-grandfather was a Wanaragua. Children would be with their parents or family members watching the dance from house to house and some even as babies would seem to want to jump out of their mothers' arms to dance. As they start walking, children who show interest in Wanaragua would often be dressed and taken along with their fathers, brothers, uncles or any other relative who is a dancer to dance in the ring. Year after year, they make the same preparations, join in the dance and sharpen their skills in the ring.
Younger Wanaragua dancers displaying their skills
 People in the community gather around to watch the dancers display their expertise in jumping on their toes, shaking their knees, moving their bodies and combining various foot movements to the rhythm of the drums. For elders in the community who have seen the dance growing up, they are sometimes able to recognize the movements and style of a Wanaragua they knew being displayed by a descendant. They may even call the dancer by their Ancestor's name in acknowledgement of his skill as a dancer.

Wanaragua dancers awaiting their turn from young to old
Wanaragua has been danced among the Garinagu for many generations and its maintenance for many more to come can be seen in the numbers of young dancers that form the line each year to dance in the circle of dancers. The young are given the opportunity on every stop to showcase their talent and this helps them to improve as they watch their peers as well as older dancers take their turn to dance. While they compete with each other to exhibit prowess in the dance, they also function as support to each other in the dance by giving  encouragement and assistance to each other when necessary.
Teenage Wanaragua dancer showing his skills in the ring
As the years go by, the rhythms, the songs, the foot movements of the Ancestors live on in the Wanaragua dancers who relive and recreate the dance of their fathers, uncles, grandfathers and great-grandfathers before them.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

THEM AND THEREFORE US IS WHAT WE MUST CELEBRATE

Olmec Stone Head in Mexico: Evidence of African
presence in the Americas long before 1492
As too many people in the world celebrate Christopher Columbus getting lost in the Caribbean, we must remember that our Ancestors had long discovered the circumference of the Earth, the wonders of science, writing, architecture, mathematics, philosophy, spirituality, agriculture, medicine, aeronautics, astronomy, oceanic navigation, astrology, metalworking, economics, jewelry-making, cosmetology, civilization and the list goes on and on and on.

As we remain conscious of the need to write and re-write, learn and re-learn our own story rather than HIStory, we must remember our Ancestors who began civilization and set the trend globally for other civilizations to be built. We must remember that they traveled across seas and continents thousands of years before the lost ones and they left their mark, not with violence or duplicity but with ingenuity. Let the wool be removed from our eyes that we may see what they left so profound to remind us of their greatness, our greatness.

Her-Em-Akhet (The Great Sphinx) of Anciet Kemet (Egypt)
As we hear the lies repeated of this bogus discovery of a world that was too old to ever be new except to a people in the heights of ignorance, we must remember our Ancestors' resilience. They survived and they overcame. They endured the "Afrikan Holocaust" and because of their resilience we are here. We are the evidence of our Ancestors' perseverance. We are the evidence of our Ancestors' vitality. We are the evidence of our Ancestors' brilliance. We are the evidence of our Ancestors' greatness.


The Great Pyramid of Gizeh in Kemet (Egypt)
So, if we are going to remember, we must remember them, our Ancestors. If we are going to celebrate, we must celebrate them, our Ancestors. If we are going to sing praises, we must sing praises to them, our Ancestors. And when we remember, celebrate and honour them; we must know that in so doing, we also remember, celebrate and honour ourselves. Our Ancestors are us and we are our Ancestors. We must always remember that.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

THE SONGS ARE GIVEN

Elders singing in the Dabuyaba/temple
Ever woke up in the morning with something on the mind that just wouldn't go away? So it happens with writers - poets, storytellers, composers. The inspiration often comes unanticipated and for some when that content is in the fore of their consciousness, it is so compelling that they must do nothing else but put it down on paper. It has been this way for many generations and so much of what we now have is owed to the oral traditions that have been retained across African and other cultures. Such is the case with many traditional songs of the Garifuna people. They come to their composers oftentimes in dreams of some Ancestor or the other.

If we accept that no original thought exists but that new thoughts are only old ones renewed, then we can appreciate that the inspiration writers speak of is actually from a source that is not their consciousness but something much deeper. Sometimes a writer might be able to say that the words were spoken to them by a particular person they saw in their sleep. Sometimes all they have is a voice or a vision of the words. Whichever way the inspiration comes, it is still not of the writer but of another source for which the writer becomes a transporter.

Younger Garifuna gayusa (traditional singer)
When speaking of the origin of certain songs they have composed or have sung, Garifuna elders often speak of being "given" a song. When they sing the songs they were inspired to sing, they would say, "I am singing it the way it was given to me." Such a statement acknowledges the source of inspiration and accepts such inspiration as a gift. The normal practice thereafter is for that gift to be shared with others. The given songs are sung at gatherings and are taught to others. In this way, such a precious gift is not selfishly hoarded but instead is gladly given to others for longevity. In the sharing, the gift, the song is given eternal life.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

CALLING THE ANCESTORS TO ENTER: Introducing the Garifuna Dugu

Procession to the seaside to greet the fisherfolk for the Dugu
Copyright Tony Rath/tonyrath.com
When in the summer months of July and August, people  from young to old are seen walking the streets of Dangriga or Punta Gorda or Hopkins or any Garifuna community for that matter in Garifuna attire oftentimes in identical outfits, they are likely going to participate in a great celebration in honor of Ancestors. This celebration is called adugurahani or dugu (doo-goo) for short and it is a very elaborate and sacred event. To the one who loves and appreciates this very powerful and meaningful component of Garifuna culture, this time and this event is eagerly anticipated. It is exhilarating to hear throughout the day and night the drums beating from afar in that steady, sacred rhythm like the beating of a heart.

Taking seafood back to the temple for offering.
Copyright Tony Rath/tonyrath.com
 Over a year of preparation has taken place when a dugu finally occurs. Animals have to be raised - roosters and pigs - which will be offered as well as consumed during the event. Sometimes a temple has to be built. Family members have to be informed and invited to the event. Specific attire for the different families involved have to be sewn. Drummers and singers must be hired. Regular meetings between family members and the spiritual healer officiating the event - the buyae (boo-yey) - have to be held.


Greeting the sunrise and welcoming the fisherfolk back
 for the Dugu. Copyright Tony Rath/tonyrath.com
 A family usually finds out that there needs to be a dugu when a member becomes suddenly ill. In the past, people would immediately consult with a spiritual healer to determine if this illness involves Ancestors. In the present, people seek the guidance of modern medicine first which of course fails and the person does not recover from illness. When that happens, families then go to the spiritual healer for guidance. It may also happen that members dream an ancestor or another and get messages in those dreams. It may happen too that members may see ancestral spirits or get possessed by an ancestral spirit. It has been known to happen that a person may have grown up without speaking the Garifuna language or following the Garifuna traditions yet one day that person suddenly starts speaking Garifuna in a voice that is not her or his own. Many amazing things have happened in regards to honoring Ancestors in Garifuna tradition.

The Dabuyaba (da-boo-ya-ba) or Garifuna temple.
The dugu can be likened to a family reunion. It indeed brings together extended branches of families. These days, it is at a dugu that people will learn of their blood relation to someone they may have gone to school with or seen around but never knew as their relative. The event congregates several generations in the Garifuna temple and it involves different activities there throughout the day for an entire week. Most Garifuna communities have this venue available for community use but at times, Ancestors request that their families build one for their specific dugu.

Entering the Dabuyaba to officially begin the Dugu.
The Dabuyaba is considered a sacred space and there are rules of conduct that participants are expected to abide by during a dugu. For example, the colour black should not be worn at all in the Dabuyaba. Females on their menstrual cycle should not enter the Dabuyaba nor be in the vicinity where a dugu is taking place. Women must wear long skirts and the head must be wrapped with cloth. The rules are explained to family members during preparation for the dugu. People who have challenged these rules have faced severe consequences and such stories are many since too many have moved away from tradition.

Even though the maintenance of tradition is threatened by modernization and other factors globally, the Garifuna dugu fortunately continues to survive the challenges. Each year, therefore, in various Garifuna communities the drums can be heard from afar beating in the dabuyaba as the Garinagu call their Ancestors to enter.


Monday, July 30, 2012

CELEBRATING LIFE'S TRANSITION: THE GARIFUNA BELURIA



Garifuna drummer playing at a beluria
The drums could be heard from far away filling the night with pulsating rhythms. One might think that it is some festive occasion that you just cannot miss. It's as if the drums actually pull you. And when you arrive, it is indeed festive, a party of sorts except when you ask what's going on, someone has died.

The beluria (be-loo-reeya) is among several traditional practices in honour of the dead that are still done in Garifuna communities of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and even in the United States where thousands of Garinagu (Garifuna people) also live.

Garifuna woman dancing punta at a beluria
The significant number is nine. The custom is that after someone has made transition and has been buried, the family engages in nine days of prayers.  An altar is prepared in the home of the deceased and a group of elder women visit each day to lead in the prayers. On the ninth night, the final prayers are done. Drums play all night accompanied by the singing of women and much dancing. Traditionally, stories would be told usually by an elder about many lessons in life. Sometimes there would be stories about the deceased. Large pots of soup would be on the fire throughout the night to give to those in attendance. Then, just before the sun rises, the altar is dismantled. The final mourning of the deceased is done and all items are taken to the burial site of the deceased.
   
Garifuna women singing at a beluria

The beluria in Garifuna tradition is considered the last ritual of mourning for a loved one. It essentially prepares the deceased for the spirit world. It is a send off to the place where Ancestors dwell, Seiri (say-ree). It gives the community and family a chance to celebrate the life of the deceased on Earth knowing that they will be going to a different place and life. All other rituals in the years that follow are done in honour, reverence and appeasement of those who dwell in the realm of the Ancestors. The Garifuna beluria, though threatened by modern day influences, remains alive among Garinagu as a celebration of life's transition.

Monday, June 18, 2012

THE VOICE OF EEGUN



When Ancestors speak we should listen. But how often are we quiet enough to hear their whisper or their call or their shout? It comes sometimes in the simplest ways – a comment from a child or elder, a statement on a wall or shirt, a dream. Sometimes it comes so blatant it can scare you immensely.  They are everywhere and some people have the gift to see them. It is a gift, yes, that some unfortunately see as a curse.


Singing in honor of Ancestors

What makes a gift a curse? Perhaps one’s lack of preparation for a gift might make it a curse. If no one told you or taught you how to use something of value or even informed you of the value of that thing, how would you know to use it properly or appreciate it? Ignorance, then, would make a gift a curse. Not knowing the existence of Ancestors and not being taught to embrace their visions and messages would surely make the ability to see and hear Ancestors become a curse rather than a gift.

Some people have been told that they are crazy and need psychiatric help. Some have been told that they need to be “saved” and demons need to be exorcised from them. They have been overwhelmed with prayers, verses, medication and therapy in an attempt to “heal” this alleged curse that they have. All these things come to no good and a gift indeed becomes a curse when the receiver does not know or does not appreciate the gift which s/he has been given.

We may not all have this particular gift of seeing or hearing Ancestors but we all do have Ancestors. We could not exist without them and that already is a blessing. They are indeed present around us, whether we recognize them or not, and they do impact our lives one way or another. They do speak to us, bring us messages, warnings, guidance. They mean us well. It is for us to sit still more often and listen to the voice of our Ancestors.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Don't Tell Me You Missed It!


May 20th has come and gone and the most wondrous Ancestor Celebration was hosted by Keepers of the Way at the Spirit filled Omenala Griot African Teaching Museum. Don't tell me you missed it!!!

Well if you missed it, your chance will come again next year but let's talk about some of the things that did happen. The day began with a libation with the priests and volunteers as we set up and prepared for the celebration. As we organized the venue a rising spirit of anticipation took over. It was the hard work of Oyanike that pulled together the volunteers




It always brings joy to the heart to see Afrikan people working together in positive unity and harmony. To add to that feeling, the thought of honoring, elevating, singing, praising and experiencing our Ancestors was simply wonderful.






 
As the event began, we gathered in our workshops. Song, dance and music were combined together. The Spirit Workshop talked about the basics of Ancestor Reverence at home. And I cannot forget the children's workshop because the children made ancestral masks from various Afrikan ethnic groups. The children even came before the group and showed their masks. Props should be given to 'Fafunmilayo for working with the children and giving them an opportunity to participate.

 
The workshops were followed by a round table where we Senegalese,  Pape Niang and Haitian Vodoun practitioner,Nana De, talked to us about how their traditions honor ancestors. There was time for questions before we moved into the celebration.

Iya Alajoye Sangofemi performed the libation and the "party" started. We began with two Akan songs led by Nana Kofi Ampon.  From there we continued with Yoruba (diaspora version) songs. Spirit was called and Spirit came and from the experience, participants accessed their own blood line, their own DNA and traveled with the Ancestors of all who were present.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is There a Lover of Ancestors Out There?


The Keepers of the Way committee consists of Iya Alajoye Sangofemi, Iya Omitade Ifatoosin Adediran, Iya Omilade Woodard, Iya Sangoyemi Troupe, Aiyetoro Kamau, Motunrayo Hubbard, Iya Omitola McIntosh. Without the persistent effort of these people, this event would not happen.

         


But we are always looking for good people who want to help us to bringing healing to our communities. So if you have a love of ancestors, you honor and keep your word without excuses, will DO instead of talk about what you are going to do and want to participate in an activity that brings our people together. Get in contact with one of the people above and let us put you to work.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Auction Item of the Day--April 26


Circular Earrings




Take a look at these beauties.These cultural handmade earrings are crafted from an array of creative materials, which are inspired by all things Tribal, Bohemian and Cultural.  Don't you just HAVE to have them? These are on the auction as are many, many more items. All you have to do is click and you are there.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Another Item Sold

Well you missed out on this beautiful pair of earrings. But there is more jewelry available at the auction. Just click here and you are on your way. Don't miss out on your chance to have something beautiful AND support our effort to bring the best Ancestor Celebration possible. Now how can you resist that?

Auction Item of the Day--April 24



This stunning looking two ensemble is striking! The red and black is on fire! As you can see, the top and the bottom have sheer designs pieces within them. This outfit would be absolutely stunning on anyone who wears it! Size: M/L

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Auction Item of the Day--April 19



This Verizon pre-paid phone is available for bidding. There is an additional $50 per month with unlimited talk, text and web. This would be a great gift for a teenager! This LG phone is perfect!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Auction Item of the Day--April 17


Barefoot Sandals

One pair of barefoot sandals with matching bracelet. This lovely set is perfect for an outing at the beach.

Made of brown tiger eye glass beads, these sandals will complement and accessorize your bare feet for a lovely day at the beach or related activities. It is designed to fit size 8 or 9 feet and is made with elastic cord for easy wearing.

Take a look at these beauties and place your bid.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Auction Item of the Day--April 15


 Ancestor Tree Painting




Show the world that you honor your connection to ancestors with this painting of an Ancestor Tree.

"A people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots."This proverb serves as the inspiration for this acrylic on canvas painting. It features nine colors which is the sacred number of ancestors. It is also adorned with nine mini mirrors symbolizing that our ancestors are never gone but live within us. 

Bid on this one-of-a-kind piece and it can be yours today!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Auction Item of the Day--April 14


Beautiful Handmade card honoring Family

This handmade greeting card was crafted with quality card stock paper of various designs.

"Family" - every letter was machine cut and carefully glued in place to create the front face of the card. The inside is blank; perfect for your personalized greeting.

To see more, go to the auction and make your bid.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Auction Item of the Day--April 11


If you or someone you know loves coffee, then this coffee gift basket is just what you need. This gift basket is available for bidding. Included in the basket is coffee mugs and coffee from Starbucks. Take advantage of this great opportunity!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Auction Item of the Day--April 10

It's time to see something new so let's take a look at this beautiful item of clothing. Designed perfectly for your next event.

This beautiful black ensemble with white embroidery is stunning. This two piece has a button down top complimented by a skirt. The design on the top is absolutely stunning with flowers and ovals that resemble African shields. This outfit is sized for a person that is a S or M.


So if this item strikes your fancy for to the auction and make your bid. It could be yours in a matter of days.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Auction Item of the Day Times Two



I arrived home to find that my Internet connection via satellite was down and out. It has taken a week or so to get it running again (and don't ask how much $$$$). Anyway, this calls for more than one item to be posted today because I know that you have been anxiously awaiting the new items. Just remember that if you want to see more or bid on this item you can go the the auction here.

So, item one is a wooden candle-holder that is is the depiction of Afrikan Power. A beautiful woman.This sleek and sumptuous woman is standing tall with waist beads drawing emphasis to the true power of women. It's beauty is very powerful.







                                                             

The next item is a pair of candle-holders that are colorful and easy on the eye. They can be used for an intimate bath, a peaceful ambiance at home, relaxing outside, or any other occasion. The design on the candle-holders is bold and you would just love them!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Oh-Oh, You Missed Out!

You thought too long about Mardi Gras, the shekere and now it is SOLD. Don't let another great item pass you by. Go to the auction page and get your item NOW!!

Auction Item of the Day--1st April, No Joke!!

Today's item come to luxuriate your body
3 Bars Hand-made Soap

Artist: Omitade, Ase Eloquent Arts, Belize
Two of the bars are made from goat milk and oatmeal for a silky smooth feel and luscious skin. One bar is glycerin soap made in layers. Retail price: 3 bars for $12

If you are waiting to be beautiful in your skin, go to our auction page and place your bid.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Auction Item of the Day--29 March

Yes, it has been a few days since Auction Item of the Day has been posted. We had some lag time transferring photos from one person to another. But we are back in business, at least for the next few days to here is the next item that is up for bids in our auction.


This is a sculpture hand- made of hardened fabric that can be kept inside or outdoors. It stands 17 inches tall on a metal base that is 4 X 4 inches. Although the sculpture looks metallic, it is actually fabric. This item goes with any d├ęcor and would be particularly stunning on an end table or book shelf.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Auction Item of the Day--Monday, 26 March

Here is yet another magnificent item that appears in our auction.  Enjoy the Elements!!! This Earth, Wind and Fire three CD collection with box and book of memories, will take you back to when you first heard the wonderful sound of this group. Each CD includes the best of from 1971-75, 1975-77, and 1978-89. Don't miss out on this great collection.


If you would like this collection, go to the auction and make your bid.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Auction Item of the Day--Sunday, 25 March

Day Two of Auction Item and we present a shekere, named Mardi Gras. The beautiful musical instrument will brighten any invocation you want to make to Spirit.

If you want, Mardi Gras, let your voice be heard. Go to the auction and place your bid. Mardi Gras could be yours.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Auction Item of the Day

Our on-line Auction on behalf of Keepers of the Way has so many wonderful items that we decided to feature and item each day so that you can see what's line. When you see the gift or personal item that you really want, click here and go make a bid.


This handmade greeting card is crafted with quality card stock paper of various designs.

"Black is Beautiful" - each intricate piece is hand cut and placed with delicate care to create the finished product. A blank side panel is available to write your personalized greeting.

Volunteers Needed

As we near the upcoming ancestor celebration, we need a few volunteers to help us complete a specific task. Can you register people on the day of the event? Can you act as security for the event? Can you help us secure vendors?

These and many other tasks are what we need help with and you may be just the person to do it. In service to your ancestors, how can you go wrong?

If you have the desire to help and want to volunteer, please go to our volunteer page.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Change of Venue

Just so we are all clear, the venue for the Ancestor Celebration has changed!! It is now being held at Omenala Griot African Teaching Museum, 337 Dargan Place SW, Atlanta, 30310.

The call is increasing so make sure you mark your calendar for May 20th and come around to be a part of this event.

Monday, March 19, 2012

It's Coming!

The time is drawing near. Two more months to go and preparations continue for our 2nd Annual Ancestor Celebration. Its success is in our hands. Remembering their resilience, their perseverance, their commitment, let this celebration of Ancestors truly reflect the satisfying outcome of collective and diligent work.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ancestors Move and Shake in East Africa

I can't help but have all of you on my mind as I tour this vast continent. It has never been more clear that the ancestors need us to restore our greatness on Earth and be a part of the solution of revitalizing our people's strength and faith in the power and consciousness of Africa. So if you are feeling weary, if you have lost your resolve, if you are discouraged, they say, LIFT UP YOUR HEAD because you have been given the gift of seeing and seeking their power through the terrible tear of the Maafa. Those who are here have long forgotten them and have turned their backs to become more acceptable in the sight of Europeans. Do you not see the significant role that you are playing in our history? If you don't then you are missing it. So, I call on each of you to utter out loud your African names and recall once again what you have been told is your purpose. Do not underestimate WHO YOU ARE!


Sunday, January 22, 2012


Keepers of the Way T-shirt Contest is in full swing and the announcement will soon be in about the winning design! Much thanks to all who submitted designs.

This contest is geared toward obtaining an image that depicts the honoring and elevation of Afrikan Ancestors. The image will be printed on t-shirts and sold as a fundraiser for Keepers of the Way Ancestor Celebration.

The winner of the contest will receive:
A free t-shirt
Recognition on Facebook
Recognition in the program

Blind judging of the designs will be done and the winner will be announced on January 29, 2012. 

So, keep visiting us to see the winning design and also check out the auction page. You still have time to submit items for this very worthy cause in celebration of our Ancestors.