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I remember first hearing about Adinkra symbols from a friend. I’m certain who introduced me to the ancient West African symbolism, but I do remember that it came a t time when I was obsessively going through as many books authored by Africans as possible. (I still hope to build a respectable collection of books by Africans, so my daughter can have tangible references, other than her existence, into the meaning of life in Africa.)
Honestly though, I have an invested interest in the writings of Africans because I find myself an African, in Africa, who is submerged in so much Western tradition and culture that the truest sense of what being an African is, is lost to me.
The simplest task of tracing my lineage 100 years prior to my existence is as impossible as trying to find out who my great grand father was. Seeing as I am a product of a broken home, which broke long before I was even born, having a full understanding of my blood line has lead me to an understanding of I am, regardless of who was before I came along.
However, knowing who was, how they were, why they were would surely give clarity as to who I am and where I stand in the grand scheme of things… (And here I have the image of a giant tree with roots and branches that fan out into all sorts of directions. Each with its purpose and closely linked to the rest the tree from the point to which it stems from.)
And so in the many avenues I’ve been, where people who claim to have bits and pieces of information about my tree, I found sense in their ramblings. I don’t imagine that the world of oral history that once existed about my people (the Xhosa; ooRadebe, ooDlamini, ooTyani) has all made it into the stories that are now told about them during my time.
More than that, knowing where they stem from interests me more. In my mind, having that knowledge would be the best way top just cut passed the middle man…. Knowing that I should, and can, acknowledge the the first tribes people by name.
And according to some of the people I’ve spoken to, the first tribes people of all Xhosa people are West African. I’m inclined to believe this. From the many books I’ve read, pictures I’ve seen and stories I’ve been told, the cultural dress, rituals and traditions enjoyed by my people are fairly similar to those enjoyed by certain West African tribes.
This is why, more than the fact that it is African spiritual symbolism, the Adinkra symbols of West Africa have become a part of my spiritual identity. This one in particular communicates my sentiments on there being a God; a Soul of the Universe where all things living, all things emitting a vibration or frequency of life come from. In isiXhosa I would say ‘Ubungangasha beNkosi,’ The supremacy of God.
Indeed ‘they’ are supreme (the Most high is female and male, so ‘they’), and they forever will be to me. Much like the Asante people who decorated their homes and draped themselves in cloth with symbols such as this one, I will do the same (when I finally get my own house, God willing.)
But more than that, to permanently mark the importance of the Most High in my life, I will tattoo this symbol onto my body…. Still mulling it over though 🙂