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, June 10, 2013

DANCING FOR ANCESTORS

It usually involves singing, dancing, drumming and a circular formation. All four are very important to any celebration of Ancestors on the continent or in the diaspora. The 'ring shout', for example, is one of several dances done in the diaspora to honor Ancestors. Enslaved Africans in the Caribbean and the United States would gather at night after their work day at a location usually in the forest to do this dance of shuffling feet, clapping hands, and singing voices moving in a circle going in a counterclockwise direction. This was one of the ways Africans who were brought to the Americas  figured out how to preserve certain aspects of the traditions they were forced to leave behind.

The McIntosh County Shouters doing the Ring Shout. Image posted by Steve Kiviat.

Kumina dancing in Jamaica. Photo from www.embracingspirituality.com
The Kumina dance in Jamaica has drums and other instruments but it is also done in honour of Ancestors and in circular formation. Many communities around Jamaica retain this traditional practice and sometimes the African language Kikongo can still be heard in the songs that are sung for Kumina. Because it is so powerful in its veneration of Ancestors, spirit possession is typical during the Kumina which makes it clearly an ancestral dance. Offerings to Ancestors are also done during this dance.
Dancing in the Dabuyaba. Photo by Judy Lumb

The Garinagu of Central America also have a dance that is done during the Feasting of the Dead (Dugu) which is the largest ancestral celebration in Garifuna tradition. The dance Hugulendu is done in circular formation with specific songs that are sung during the Dugu. The three large Segundo drums are played while the leading singers (gayusa) call songs that participants in the dance respond to. The dancing would go in a clockwise direction and then when a different song is called, the dancers would turn and dance in a counterclockwise direction. It is normal for spirit possession to happen during this dance as well but unlike the Kumina or Ring Shout, the Hugulendu is only done inside the Garifuna spiritual temple the dabuyaba.

The examples provided here clearly illustrate the importance of dancing, singing, drumming and circular formation in the celebration and honor of Ancestors. Our Annual Ancestor Celebration that is fast approaching will be no different in giving honor to Ancestors through song and dance. A workshop is planned for participants who are interested in learning a dance in honour of Ancestors. It is among several activities that will be taking place on Sunday, June 16, 2013 (Juneteenth) in Atlanta for our 3rd Annual Ancestor Celebration. May there be an overflow of positive energy that could be felt in the singing, drumming and dancing that is a must in honoring Ancestors.

1 comment:

  1. Free your mind. Keep tradition alive. Move to the rhythm. Dance for them. Just dance, dance, dance........


    Ife.

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