Five Pillars of Afrikan Spiritualiy
Afrikan Divinity (Mungu wa Afrika) Give homage and veneration to the Afrikan Creator, Afrikan Spirits, Afrikan Ancestors, and the spiritual sacredness of Nature.
2. Afrikan Shrines and Altars (Malili na Mandabahu ya Afrika) Give daily libations and offerings of praise and tribute to Afrikan divinity and Ancestors at the Afrikan shrines and altars to seek guidance and well-being.
3. Afrikan Traditions (Asili ya Ki-Afrika) Give honor and praise to the sacredness of Afrikan traditions and cultures.
4. Afrikan Family (Jamaa ya Ki-Afrika) Be committed to empower and uplift the excellence of our people, our nations, our families, and ourselves.
5. Afrikan Sacred Lands (Ardhi Yenyi Kutakaswa ya Afrika) Be committed to repatriate or pilgrimage, if possible in one’s lifetime, to Afrikan Sacred Lands.
Introduction The formal name of “The Five Pillars” is Miamba Tano from the Afrikan language of Ki-Swahili. I am aware that Islam has Five Pillars to guide Muslims. The Miamba Tano is in no remote way a copy of Islam’s Five Pillars. The Miamba Tano is not a copy from any other religion. The Miamba are a formulation and compilation of Afrikan Spirituality which predates and is the origin of the world’s religions. I claim no originality with the Miambo Tano; they are a creation of the ancestors.
In the Afrikan language of Ki-Swahili, a mwamba is a rock, foundation, or pillar which supports a structure or house. Miamba is plural for mwamba. Mwamba and Miamba are used in literal and figurative expressions. Thus, we get The Miamba Tano za Maisha ya Kiroho ya wa Afrika (The Five Pillars of Afrikan Spirituality). The Five Pillars (Miamba Tano) are indispensable and essential to the foundation, worldview, and structure of Afrikan Spirituality in the lives of individuals, the family, Afrikan-Centered schools, sacred Afrikan institutions, and the Afrikan-Centered community as a whole.
These Pillars have been the five foundational supports of Afrikan Spirituality for countless tens of thousands of years back to our original Afrikan ancestor. These foundational supports were the basis of all truly Afrikan civilizations. These Pillars represent the very best of every Afrikan community throughout the world. When Afrikan people are liberated, when our Spirituality is redeemed, it will be a result of embracing Afrikan Spirituality, in some form, handed down by our ancestors.
1. Afrikan Divinity (Mungu wa Afrika) Give homage and veneration to the Afrikan Creator, Afrikan spirits, Afrikan ancestors, and the spiritual sacredness of Nature. Afrikan divinity is the world’s first “religious” or spiritual system, and it is the origin of all the world’s religions and spiritual systems. In spite of all spiritual systems or “religions” originating in Afrika, they are all culturally bound to particular races. Afrikans must pay homage to Afrikan divinity within the context of Afrikan culture. On the Afrikan shrine and altar we must give homage to Afrikan divinity for direction and prosperity.
We must give praise to the Afrikan Creator and to creation (or Nature). We must seek to always keep our body and spirit in harmony with nature. We must pay homage to our ancestors in the spirit-world. We must stay in tune with the guiding and protecting energy of the ancestors and the spirits. Liberated people give reverence to their righteous ancestors and ask for guidance; religious slaves give reverence to their conquerors and their conqueror’s ancestors. A people who observes divinity through another people’s culture will never be free. When we no longer worship under foreign religions, we will cease to be the cultural slaves of foreign people.
2. Afrikan Shrines and Altars (Malilina na Mandabahu ya Afrika) Give daily libations and offerings of praise and tribute to Afrikan divinity at the Afrikan shrines and altars to seek guidance and well-being. I have to refer the reader to African Spirituality, edited by Jacob Olupona. In it is an excellent article by Benjamin Ray entitled “African Shrines as Channels of Communication.” The shrine is a channel of communication with the spirit and human world which brings “moral and spiritual life” to Afrikans, says Ray.
At the sacred Afrikan spaces in the world, pay homage and give thanks to Afrikan divinity. The shrine is a channel or a vessel of communication with the spirit world and the ancestors. A shrine can be a sacred Afrikan city, a temple, or where your personal or family altar is located. The altar is where libations and offerings are given. It is a window to divinity, a crossroads of the natural and spirit-world. It is where you go to speak to the ancestors to renew Afrikan Spirituality and living excellence.
Pour libations from a sacred bowel or cup into a plant, bowel, or sprinkle the entire altar with your fingers. Do not be religious at the Afrikan altar, be Afrikan Spiritual. Call out the Afrikan names of the Creator and deities. Honor the Ancestors. You may use The Miamba Tano as a guide. You may sing or read or recite Afrikan prayers, proverbs, and chants in the Kemetic, Yoruba, Akan, Swahili, or other Afrikan languages.
Your personal, family, or community altar should have any number of sacred items such as plants, Afrikan carvings, shells, candles, incense, pictures of ancestors (family or historical ancestors), beads, Afrikan soil, plates, oils, etc. In many cultures, food is offered to the spirit world. I promote non-animal food offerings such as fruits, grains, and vegetables. You may stand, or a pillow is appropriate for sitting or knelling.
You may desire to remove your shoes to be closer to the Earth. The shrine and altar must be kept clean, and you should be clean in heart and body when you approach it. The ablution, or sacred washing of hands and/or feet originated in the Nile Valley, and it is appropriate for us to use this practice before libations, if we choose. Ablution did not originate in Islam or any other religion.
Give praises and ask for guidance at the altar in the morning when you rise, before you lay down to rest at night, or some other time in the day. When you stand with only a plant and water to give libations, you will have created an altar. Even you alone giving praise is an altar. The Afrikan objects are a Spiritual medium, but you and your spiritual connection is what is most important at the altar to help center you in your Spirituality.
We are constantly taught that the Afrikans worship carvings, and the Afrikan altar is paganistic or heathenistic, but all of the religions and belief systems on the planet have altars and shrines. The churches, mosques, and synagogues with various religious symbols and art are shrines.
In Mecca, the Kaba stone is an altar as much as the statues of Jesus and Mary or St. Peter’s Square, and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The altar is not the worship of objects, they can be replaced. The altar is the worship of Afrikan divinity, the giving of praises to Afrikan ancestors for direction and improvement in one’s life. The altar is a way to bring Spiritual sacredness into your life.
3. Afrikan Traditions (Asili ya Ki-Afrika) Give honor and praise to the sacredness of Afrikan traditions and cultures. Afrikan languages, names, rituals, holy days, ceremonies, customs, history, narratives, fashions, music, art, dance, etc. Are the sacred expressions of our people. Afrikan culture is fundamentally spiritual. We must keep our traditions alive day-by-day, one year after the other, and one generation to the next. An oppressed population will lose their identity when the traditions of other people are forced on them. No people who are aware of their true identity will remain enslaved and oppressed.
4. Afrikan Family (Jamaa ya Ki-Afrika) Be committed to empower and uplift the excellence of our people, our nations, our families, and ourselves. The Afrikan family is the preserver of Afrikan culture, and without the family none of the Pillars would exist. The Afrikan family is the smallest unit that makes up the Afrikan world community. Therefore, if we are to have unified nations, we must have unified families.
Every endeavor in our lives must be to bring out the excellence in ourselves as a contribution to our family and our people. We must abstain from vices and wrongdoings to gain the rewards of righteous living. We must live right, eat right, and do right towards each other to benefit not only ourselves and our family, but also our community and nation. We must provide models of Afrikan excellence for our children. We must have loyalty to the empowerment of our people.
We must honor and respect our elders because they are the core and root of the family and the nation. We must build and control the schools, businesses, and other institutions in our communities and nations. The Afrikan family has always been the backbone of the nation. It is no wonder today that we have broken families and a broken nation. The only way to empower our nations is to uplift our families, and to uplift ourselves.
5. Afrikan Sacred Lands (Ardhi Yenyi Kutakaswa ya Afrika) Be committed to repatriate or pilgrimage, if possible in one’s lifetime, to Afrikan Sacred Lands. In the broadest sense, Afrikan sacred land is a shrine. Sacred lands are the burial places of our ancestors. All Afrikan people must have a spiritual connection to Afrikan sacred lands. Afrika is sacred to Afrikan people. Some countries, cities, regions, forests, rivers and certain bodies of water, etc. Are more sacred than others to specific ethnic groups because of their particular histories.
Also, there is sacred Afrikan land outside of Afrika. For Afrikans in India, the Indus Valley is sacred; for Afrikans in Brazil, the area where Palmares stood is sacred; for Afrikans in the Americas the grounds where plantations were are sacred. But, Afrika is most sacred for Afrikan people. All people throughout the world honor the lands of their ancestors and give thanks for their origins; only slaves honor the lands of their masters. We dishonor our ancestors and ourselves when we pilgrimage to the holy lands of non-Afrikan people.
Just as we should commit ourselves to try and come before the altar at least once a day, we should commit ourselves to go to the great altar of Afrikan land at least once in our lifetime to pay due homage to our spiritual lineage.
Conclusion Libations are poured to The Miamba Tano. Afrikan people who are striving to embrace the Spirituality of our ancestors may embrace The Miamba Tano. They are an Afrikan code of righteous living bestowed on us by our ancestors and Creator. They are also desperately needed in the times that we live in today. Afrikans (Blacks) who embrace foreign religions cannot fully embrace The Miamba Tano. But, hopefully, through the voices of our ancestors and our Creator, those sisters and brothers will come home through one of the flowers (traditions) of Afrikan Spirituality.
The Five Pillars of Afrikan Spirituality is a way of life and a cultural center. Liberated Afrikans live and work towards The Miamba Tano not just a day, a week, or a month, but everyday of the year throughout life. Most importantly, The Five Pillars (Miamba Tano) are passed from one generation to the next. Afrikan Spirituality has been passed from our ancestors to us, and it is our responsibility to pass our faith to future generations.